9/11 Was 17 Years Ago Today. What Do You Remember? (Video…worth watching)

By kncipat on September 10, 2018
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

17 years ago today, Sept 11th, 2001, was a Tuesday (just like today).  Tom and I were on the air.  There’s no way we could have prepared a show for what was about to happen.

Before 6am we had word that a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers.  Then another. Then a plane into the Pentagon. And a plane rammed into the ground in a place called Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Planes were falling out of the sky everywhere.  One thing was clear.  Our country was under attack.

Different pieces of information were pouring in and we were doing our best to explain it.   Were there more planes?  Were there more hijackers?

The tv in out studio was on and glued to CNN.  During commercial breaks we were making phone calls back to New York.  And I was nervously trying to find my mom and dad.  They had left that morning, on a plane from the east coast headed to Sacramento.  I had no idea if they were okay, still in the air, in trouble, or safely on the ground.

We reached a news reporter named Sandy Kenyon in New York City.  While he was on the air with us he described what we saw happen on live tv:  the north tower of the World Trade Center collapsing.  We gasped.  Tom yelled, “Oh No!”  And then we were silent.  Sandy praised the brave first responders and Pat offered a quick prayer.

It was all unfathomable.  How could this happen?  Why did this happen?

I remember that one of our sales people at the time had a daughter who worked at the World Trade Center.  Fortunately she got out and was safe.  I remember going home and hugging my sons for hours.  I don’t remember eating.

All air travel was grounded for 3 days.  Rental cars were impossible to get and good luck finding a hotel room.  But all of that paled in comparison to the 2,997 people who lost their lives.

I kept thinking about the families who lost a loved one.  The firefighters, police and first responders who died run into disaster instead of away from it.

The next morning was tough.  A little after 7am we asked those who were driving to please turn on their headlights in remembrance.  A man called in and was sobbing.  He said  he was driving on highway 50 and all he could see was headlights.

In the days that followed candlelight vigils were held in every city across America.  People magazine came out and it was all pictures.  Photos of people in New York City covered in debris.  The thousands of signs of people looking for loved ones.  It was just heartbreaking.  I tried to read it, got about half way through and put it down.  I couldn’t see it anyway because I was crying so hard.

So many emotions.  Frustration, grief, sadness, anger.

Many of us were left to try to explain this to our kids.  My son Lucas was 5 at the time and looking forward to having grandma and grandpa visit.  I told him that they wouldn’t be coming out right now.  He wanted to know why.  I told him some bad people flew airplanes into buildings and grandma and grandpa decided to stay home.  But they would be coming out to see him at Christmas.  For the next few weeks he had nightmares.  They were always the same.  He’d tell me that bad guys flew airplanes into  buildings but grandma and grandpa were safe.

I felt horrible for weeks.  And I think many of us were still trying to make sense of it.  We were looking for a direction.  How can we get back to normal?  And then came the voice of Alan Jackson.

The Country Music Awards aired that year on November 7th.  We had gotten word that Alan Jackson would be debuting a brand new song.  No other details.  He sang it in rehearsals and when he was done, despite being in a theater filled with his peers, no one spoke.  Vince Gill who hosted the CMA’s that year said you could literally hear a pin drop.

The song is, “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?”  Alan says he’ll never take credit for writing the song because it’s a gift from God.  Alan was jarred out of a sound sleep at 4am a couple of Sundays after 9/11 and he says the song just poured out. The message is simple:  empathy and love.   And I want to thank Alan for giving many of us a direction.  For reminding us of what’s important.

The video is a bit crude but this is how America first heard Alan’s song.  Like all of us watching 90% of the crowd in attendance were hearing it for the first time.  Their reaction was a standing ovation.  So was mine.

Around the site