A Father Remembering Tragedy
I know what I was doing 11 years ago on September 11th, 2001. I know where I was and even as I write these words for the very first time I have a feeling of great sorrow for all that we lost as a world. I am part of a generation that will always remember tragedy and misfortune in ways that my grandparents remember Pearl Harbor. It reminds me that sometimes as a parent we have to remember the world isn’t always a safe place and as a father it can bring a tear to my eye for my son.
I write this today, as a record, that all tragedy must end. I write this in hopes that our children will inherit a better world than the one I grew I up in. I am old enough to remember watching multiple tragedies unfold live on television. I am unsure if this make me lucky or cursed. My hope is that you will read this to remember the lives lost for the sake of our children and their futures.
back row, left to right: Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, Judy Resnik. front row, left to right: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair.
It was a typical January day in Southwest, Oklahoma (warm with no snow.) I was in Ms. Powell’s, high school, English class. We were going to have a rare treat that day and our class was combining with the science class to watch the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. I remember sitting at my desk and talking with friends while Ms. Powell told us to please be quiet (of course none of us listened) as they readied the television. It was a big school event because a teacher,Christa McAuliffe, was going into space.
When they finally got the television ready we actually paid attention as a class. As a nation, we all watched as the Space Shuttle broke apart a few minutes into the launch. I remember Ms. Powell walking over and quickly turning off the television and crying. The classroom was overall silent except for a few tears. The silence broke by an announcement over the intercom from our principal telling us what we already knew the Space Shuttle had crashed.
Time moved forward but I didn’t leave Southwest, Oklahoma. In April of 1995 I was working at Sears as a manager in the hardware department. As a manager, one of my duties was to open up the store and today was my turn. I remember unlocking the doors of the various entrances but I stopped at electronics because something had caught my eye. Other employees were all gathering in front of the televisions and they were whispering, it was 9:15 in the morning. I fell to the floor as I discovered a bomb had gone off in downtown Oklahoma City where my father was working.
We watched the first live pictures before any of the nation or the world saw the Murrah building tragedy. I knew my father was in downtown Oklahoma City and I didn’t know if he was alive (we didn’t have cell phone back then.) I tried to call my mother but the phone lines were busy and I waited patiently all day until my dad walked into Sears late that afternoon. I kissed, hugged and told my father I loved him. I wish I could say that everything turned out well from that event but it didn’t. We had a friend that lost his wife and their unborn child on that day.
A World Remembers
My wife and I left Oklahoma a few years after that (we recently moved back) and lived in Kansas City. We would often travel back to visit family and friends and see life in a small military town. The world for everyone changed on 9-11-01. On the day the world changed we were home again visiting friends. My wife and I were watching Good Morning America getting ready for the day when a Special Report came in from New York. As I look back now it all seems surreal. I remember talking to Melissa as it was happening.
“Is that real?”
“Did a second plane just fly into the other tower?”
“OH MY GOD!”
and I am man enough to admit to you that I cried.
Tragedy needs to end for our kids
I don’t want to see any more tragedy in my life and sadly I didn’t even list all of them I have seen on television live. As a father, I don’t want to give my son any more tragedy. I know that we will never all get along because it’s not in our nature but I truly believe we owe it to ourselves and our children to at least try.
January 28th, 1986 – Space Shuttle Challenger – 7 Crew Members Lost
April 19th, 1995 – Alfred P. Murrah Bombing – 168 Lost
September 11th, 2001 - September 11 Attacks – Nearly 3000 Lost
All of these tragedies are terrible things. Do you remember exactly what you were doing on 9-11? Please share your memories in the comments!!
, pearl harbor
, science class
, southwest oklahoma
, space shuttle challenger
, teacher christa mcauliffe