We can all recall where we were that day. You can probably still recall every sight, feeling and thought you experienced. You probably thought of a spouse, mother, father, brother, sister or friend that morning. For me, September 11th still seems like a snapshot ago. I was working for one of the major airlines that went down that day. I stayed in NYC the night prior. It was a gorgeous, sunny morning. We had a spectacular view of the city as we took off and headed west. We didn’t make it to our intended destination. Instead, we were directed to land in Little Rock, Arkansas, along with more than 75 other aircraft ranging from FedEx to Southwest, Delta to Northwest, American to United. There we sat on the tarmac, waiting in apprehensive silence. We were told to observe all passengers and determine if anything seemed “suspicious”. We had no idea what that meant or the magnitude of the horrifying tragedy in progress. Then, slowly, the news filtered in. Like everyone else, we were in shock. The news media arrived at the airport as we were taken into private employee areas and debriefed. We weren’t going home that day. Not a single airplane could be heard around or above us. I couldn’t get a cell call out for what seemed like hours at first. Finally, my phone lit up. The first was a call from my Dad who had awakened early on the west coast to witness the beginnings of 9/11. My parents knew I was in NYC so the time between breaking news and hearing my voice on the phone was terrifying. Every thirty minutes afterwards calls from family and friends filtered in. I felt sick to my stomach. None of us knew how to cope with such devastating news. The same feelings return every year on this date. The sights, sounds, emotions, and the memories of so many empty facial expressions.
Today We Remember. Today We Never Forget. Today we Vow to Never again allow our GREAT country to become complacent. Today, we are thankful for the men and women who perished trying to save others. Today we bow our heads and PRAY that we never experience another 9/11.
On of my favorite topics to write about is people–Ordinary people who accomplish extraordinary things. I’ve had the priviledge of meeting some extraordinary people, but none as impressive as a student I taught two years ago in a health class. His smile lit up my classroom, but when he spoke, he was difficult to understand. When he turned in his health goals for the semester, I had a tough time deciphering the sentences. We’ll call my former student, “Chris” for now. I asked Chris to meet with me after class so I could direct him to the college writing center for some assistance. I learned that day that Chris was one of the “Lost Boys of The Sudan”. Since that day, I have learned more from Chris about human faith and strength than I ever imagined. Chris has become a friend with a family-like connection to us. Chris told me that semester was a turning point in his life. He says that his dream to go into the medical field became a reality for him. I talked about setting goals and accomplishing dreams that semester because that is what makes us feel emotionally healthy. Chris came to the United States alone, not knowing if he would ever see his family again after being on the run for more than 15 years from the age of 9. He found a job in Atlanta, worked hard, saved up some money, moved to Texas and entered college. He completed his associate’s degree and is now working towards his degree in nursing. Chris inspired me to write an article about his life so that maybe he will inspire others who feel hopeless. After learning more about what Chris has survived to pursue a better life, my hope is that kids and adults alike will see a glimmer of hope in their own lives and realize that we have so much in the United States. We have an abundance of opportunity surrounding us. We have gifts that we allow to be buried in all the distractions that life has to offer. Chris’s story might help inspire all of us to stop wasting time and pursue our dreams.
I am working on Chris’s story and I will share it with you once I have completed it. I look forward to your feedback!