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Terrorists strike U.S. - - Unlike so many we were survivors

September 9, 2011

By Deborah McCaslin, Chief Publisher

On Sept. 11, 2001, a terrorist attack was made on the United States and the impact of the act is still reeling its toll.
Has it honestly been 10 Years? Was it really 10 years ago when on that Tuesday morning we threw out what we had planned for that week’s paper and set out to talk to our readers. We knew our readers were consumed by it, because we too were consumed.
The flags flew at half mast and the line to the pumps extended for blocks. The National Guard detachment stationed out of Broken Bow was placed on alert.
The doors of our chuches opened and people came. They needed each other. This New York event was felt in the heartland. We grieved for our fellow citizens. For our senior citizens, World War II, and Pearl Harbor returned.
I had my own memories to deal with. A bomb in Germany, 15 years before 9/11 destroyed our car, but unlike so many, we were survivors.
In the face of world events, your own, much smaller world comes back to surround you, nourish you, haunt you. The acts of terrorism that fateful Tuesday did just that.
When we were living in Frankfurt, Germany, we lost our car to a car bomb. It was terrifying that day. Our three children were with me. The youngest son told his dad he wasn’t hurt because he was holding his mom’s hand, my hand, while he was crossing the street. He was 3 at the time.
The blast went off while we were walking toward the car, a little over one block away. When the explosion occured, it took a moment to comprehend what had happened. Parenting books don’t come with chapters on terrorism.
The bomb wasn’t in our car, but in a vehicle parked behind the headquarters building on the Air Base. The front part of that car flew over a three-story buildng, over a street, over a group of trees and landed on our car. We were parked by the base chapel. The children and I were crossing the street on our way to pick up the car.
Three individuals were killed in the blast, including the young wife of an active duty soldier. The experience over the years came back to haunt our children from time-to-time, but eventually faded into the woodwork.
What was forever altered was how we as a family did business on base. We never really felt secure, nor completely safe again. This was an act of terrorism, seemingly insignificant in light of the events of 9/11, but still, to our tiny family, so very real. It makes you feel utterly, completely, vulnerable.
The terrorists in Germany struck two other places within a two-day period, both in close proximity to the base. Both were places our family frequented in the normal course of our day-to-day activities.
The day the bomb went off at Rhein Main AFB, there was a train on the tracks in the village where we lived. There was never a train on that set of tracks, and it sat, and it sat, and it sat. Even the Autobahn was congested with traffic. And then there was a delay at the gate. I was suppose to drop off the car I normally drove to be serviced, and then walk to the chapel parking lot and pick up the car Norm usually drove to return home. We were late, and I was frustrated.
We were scurrying between the two vehicles when the explosion went off. We could just as easily have been in the way, or in the parking lot, or at the car, but we weren’t.
Call it what you may, divine intervention if you like, but I believe a greater being was looking out for our behalf that day and I give thanks for our safekeeping, and especially for the children.
The events of 9/11 have been called senseless. It’s hard to make sense out of senseless actions. On that day, 15 year old numbness returned as current events and memories collided. I find that today, as I think about 9/11, the bomb at Rhein Main still invades the memory process.
In honor of those who lost their lives, and of their families, we remember 9/11. At the Chief we asked folks to share their thoughts and emotions of the day.
We asked folks over and over - Do you know where you were on 9/11 and do you remember what you were doing? They did.
We asked - Do you believe the events of that day have impacted the United States today? They did.
And then we asked - Do you believe the events of the day have had an impact on your own personal life? They had, if to etch a moment of numbness we will never forget.

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