The Skies Fell Silent

By M. Jane Letty

1000 words/9-11 minute read, plus links/images

8:45am September 11, 2001

That morning, after clearing breakfast dishes of scrambled eggs, bacon, and “happy bear” toast, (toast with butter and honey), tying little shoes and no need for a jacket because it was sunny and warm, down the street we went, walking and talking. I wish I could remember what he was saying, but I don’t. I do, however, remember in vivid detail watching my (then) six year-old son letting go of my hand, skitter off, stopping to wave to me before disappearing behind the big red doors of the elementary school, making me smile and feel warm inside. Life was good, then, but moments like that make it all the better. I was so sure of the world we’d brought him into, and I remember wondering what he was going to be when he grew up. (He became a police officer.)

On the walk home, I took an unusual notice of the early autumn scent of the trees and grasses in the crisp air, the exceptionally bright sunshine and clear blue sky, the last hurrah of summer flowers my husband lovingly nurtured showing off in the hanging box underneath an American flag, flying proud and strong hung above our front porch. Everything was exactly as it should be but seemed suspended in animation. Looking back, the best way I can describe it is high definition. I let our dog out the backdoor, poured myself a cup of coffee, and went upstairs to my home office. Back then, I was an editor for an independent publisher and a “boutique” literary agent. In my office, I had a small television that sat on a tall cabinet and was usually hiding behind a stack of manuscripts obscuring my view. I turned it on to watch/listen to the news, opened the window so the curtains could dance with the breeze, peeled off one of the manuscripts from the stack of submissions and sat down to read it. As routine as it gets.

An unfamiliar chime declaring Breaking News  interrupted my concentration. I stood up to remove the stack so I could see. Then, I sat down, stood up and sat down, again and again, which led to pacing and with my hands trembling and switching from the top of my head to covering my mouth, crying out, “No! No! No! Oh, my God! Oh, God! No! No! Oh, my God…no!” There was never any doubt for me, this was intentional. Did I immediately suspect a Middle Eastern terrorist? You bet I did! It was 1993 all over again, but worse. How much worse would unfold in graphic detail on every channel.

Within minutes the skies fell silent, which only amplified the sound of (almost) every heart around the world…breaking. Evidence of the world as we “knew” it would never be again and the gravity of this was being consumed by television, radio, newspaper and word of mouth. Many prayed for those who were actually there while we watched in horror from our living rooms. Of all the images, the one that brought me to my knees was The Falling Man.

Anyone who could help someone, helped, wherever and however they could. The only objective was to help a fellow American. No one cared what color, creed, religion, etc., another person was—at all. Many who were very young, grew up and were likely compelled to join the military, law enforcement, first responders only to find themselves currently being dehumanized by the ignorant and arrogant at the encouragement by those who’ve been denying and exploiting the tragedy of 9/11 since 2001 for political gain.

And, while we will never forget we must hold steady to those moments prior and not let those who sought to destroy us take those moments away, because it’s those moments that remind us of what they can never have and hated us so much for, that we must #neverforget for those who were taken from us, so their lives were not lost in vain. Especially, the police officers, fire departments, EMTs, doctors/nurses, search and rescue/recovery teams, (NYC and the many who dropped everything to respond from across the country) who ran toward an unimaginable scene, not knowing what they were heading into let alone, if they would make it out alive. Many didn’t. We owe it to them to never forget and never forgive.

America strong means just that–America Strong. We are strong. Just look at what they did and how we got back up–swinging, not swaying. Some would later say we shouldn’t still feel bitter, cling to our guns, our religion or accuse us of xenophobia, that we brought this on ourselves for not embracing a global culture. Screw that! We have every right to stand our ground–our ground zero–and will forever be on high alert, even if we go about our routines. Not only will we never forget…we will never forgive. It is also utterly unforgiveable that some have forgotten.

Today, on this the nineteenth anniversary of our American tragedy, please take a moment of silence to remember those who died because of hatred, envy, and rage at our way of life. Also, recognize only those who are fighting the good fight to keep our American values, exceptionalism, freedoms, and rights under our US Constitution. We’ve come back from insurmountable acts of deception and violence against us before…and we will again in the days, months, and years ahead. We are Americans. We are the greatest society and the most powerful country on the planet. Never forget that many died so that we could and because we live free and remind anyone who dares challenge it:

We stand for our flag and kneel only before God.

(To the domestic terrorist Marxists who are demanding we say names of noncompliant/resistant dead ex-cons, paralyzed sex offenders, or rightfully incarcerated radicals: You want to “say names”? Say these names. And, if you think the worst thing we did was to cling to our religion, our guns, and elect (and reelect) an AMERICAN president, you have no idea what we’ll do to preserve our liberty, our Constitutional Republic.)

Thank you for reading. If you’re so inclined to share your 9/11 story, please do. Those moments, no matter how many or few are important.

September 11, 2001, 10:30 AM