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Remembering that fateful September day

September 9, 2011

By Ellen Mortensen, Chief Editor

I was bowling. That’s where I was Sept. 11, 2001 at 8:46 a.m. A Tuesday morning ladies bowling league at Pleasure Lanes.
The bowling alley was busy - noisy - chaotic. All the girls were getting their bowling shoes on, their bowling balls wiped down, and names up on the scoreboard as we prepared for the week’s competition. And if you have ever been in the same room with 50 women, you know the level of noise I am referring to!
The TVs were all on overhead, but you could not hear them. I’m not sure who was the first to notice something was going on, but almost simultaneously we all stopped and watched. Together we saw the second plane fly into the World Trade Center.
Literally, in a matter of seconds the room went from a deafening noise to a deafening silence. Remembering it even a decade later, as I write this, makes me extremely emotional. It was unlike anything I had ever witnessed - like no fear I had ever known.
I vaguely remember watching some of the news footage of Viet Nam. War and destruction were nearly foreign to me. And never - never - did I ever expect to be attacked on our home land. We are America - that is just not possible! Or so I, we all, thought.
Nearly every woman in the building that morning was moms and/or grandmas. As we all began talking, continuing to watch the TV, it was instinctive to feel the urgency to protect our young.Most of us were on our cell phones, calling loved ones to make sure they were aware of this new threat that had invaded us. Somehow picking up a strike just didn’t seem at all important.
I sat at the table and watched the events unfold before my eyes with my friend and bowling partner, Nancy Sedlacek. We cried.
That night my husband and I and several members of our church got together and prayed.
I was one of the many local citizens who rushed to the grocery store to stock up on essential supplies. I was one of the many local citizens who waited in line at the gas pump to fill my car.
I can vividly recall the sick feeling I had in the pit of my stomach as details of the death and destruction began to emerge. Emotions welled up in me that I had never felt before, and pray I will never feel again.
Anger was one of the primary emotions. We are not supposed to admit that we were angry, but I was. I still to this day find it difficult to believe that we as a people can be hated so much, just for being Americans.
But for as angry as I became those first few days, I was even more proud of the spirit I watched prevail. American flags were proudly raised over homes and businesses like never before, and their was a spirit of unity in our nation like I have never experienced. Churches grew by leaps and bounds.
Unfortunately, that didn’t last. Ten years later we have once again become complacent. Perhaps not as much as we were prior to Sept. 11, 2001, but old habits die hard.
I understand the need to be sensitive to the graphic nature of photographs and images of that day, especially for those who lost loved ones in the attacks. My fear, however, is that our sensitivity has made us forget the horror that actually took place. In my opinion, we do more of an injustice to the memory of those lost on 9-11 by forgetting than by reliving.
I am not suggesting that we replay the images on the nightly news regularly, but we as a people need reminded from time to time of the atrocity of that day. After all, we are still paying a huge sacrifice as a result! We still have thousands of men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of innocent lives being lost, as a result of what happened that day.
According to the Associated Press, 4,474 members of the U.S. military have lost their lives since the war began in 2003, and more than 30,000 have been wounded. We owe it to them, and to the 2,296 innocent Americans who lost their lives Sept. 11, 2001, to never forget.

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