Was it really eleven years ago?
Everyone has their story and remembrance of that day. I was working in my office at home and heard a radio announcement about the first Tower. No word on the type of plane or the circumstances. Strange, I thought. A tragic accident. But very odd, given the unlimited visibility over the east coast. I went downstairs and flipped on the telly just in time to see – in real time – the second tower hit.
And the chilling realization: we’re under attack. The news of the Pentagon, United 93 and the rest we all know. The feelings of shock, rage and nervous jumpiness that didn’t go away and the images of destruction in a cascade. The sound of jet aircraft that night over Portland, F/A-18s landing and taking off at PWM in the days following, and transportation in chaos with stranded people trying to get home. Wondering when we’d get hit again. Military on high alert.
Condolences from other nations. This from the German destroyer Lütjens to the crew of the USS Winston Churchill shortly after 9/11 (click to enlarge):
And the explanation behind the photo:
The following is an E-mail from a young ensign aboard USS Winston Churchill (DDG-81) to his father. Note that “Manning the Rail” is a shipboard ceremony reserved for only high ranking dignitaries, such as Heads of State. Here’s the letter:
Dear Dad, We are still at sea. The remainder of our port visits have all been canceled. We have spent every day since the attacks going back and forth within imaginary boxes drawn in the ocean, standing high-security watches, and trying to make the best of it. We have seen the articles and the photographs, and they are sickening. Being isolated, I don’t think we appreciate the full scope of what is happening back home, but we are definitely feeling the effects. About two hours ago, we were hailed by a German Navy destroyer, Lütjens, requesting permission to pass close by our port side. Strange, since we’re in the middle of an empty ocean, but the captain acquiesced and we prepared to render them honors from our bridge wing. As they were making their approach, our conning officer used binoculars and announced that Lütjens was flying not the German, but the American flag. As she came alongside us, we saw the American flag flying half-mast and her entire crew topside standing at silent, rigid attention in their dress uniforms. They had made a sign that was displayed on her side that read “We Stand By You.” There was not a dry eye on the bridge as they stayed alongside us for a few minutes and saluted. It was the most powerful thing I have seen in my life. The German Navy did an incredible thing for this crew, and it has truly been the highest point in the days since the attacks. It’s amazing to think that only half-century ago things were quite different. After Lütjens pulled away, the Officer of the Deck, who had been planning to get out later this year, turned to me and said, “I’m staying Navy.” I’ll write you when I know more about when I’ll be home, but this is it for now. Love you guys.
All this eleven years ago.