9/11 Writing Contest

By Velma Rouse

I was looking forward to a trip to San Diego with great anticipation. I love flying, seeing new cities, and what a wonderful opportunity to visit with my daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Peter.

They were going to visit his parents, and they had graciously invited me to accompany them. They would fly from the D.C. area to Minneapolis. I would drive to another daughter’s, Jane’s, in Minnesota. She would take me to the airport to join Mary and Peter for the second leg of their trip.

On the morning of 9/11, we got a call from a friend. She simply said, “Turn on your TV.” We did. The first thing we heard was that the tallest Tower, the IDS, in Minneapolis had been closed. What is going on? We stayed glued to the TV as the events of the day unfolded. We would not be flying as planned.

An e-mail gave me my changed itinerary. It read, “Saturday (15th) FLt 55-MSP 20:51 (8:51 PM) SAN 22:36 (10:36 AM).” We would be on our way at last.

We got into San Diego, and there was no flurry of taxis as usually greet in-coming planes. There would be a wait. It was explained to us that many taxis are driven by foreigners. They would call up one taxi at a time. When it had departed, they would then call up another one.

Peter’s mother, Dorothy, was a bit surprised that we had still come. (We couldn’t have let the terrorists win so easily).

Dorothy showed us a wonderful time seeing the sights and sounds of San Diego. All was as normal, except for when we went to the Wild Animal Park. A woman and a man had been called from their usual duties. It was their job to manually search every purse, billfold, and anything else that had been carried into the Park.

I returned home before Mary and Peter. Mary took me to the plane two hours early. We didn’t know what the security would be. She couldn’t wait with me and simply let me out at the airline.

The restaurants were all closed as well as the usual attractions and distractions to entertain travelers while they waited. It would be a very boring time. But wait. What is this?

Three men approached. The men on the outer sides were both security guards. The man in the center had a complexion that suggested he could have been from the Middle East. They stood at some length talking to the ticket agent. Then another man came out, and they still talked. I could not hear what they were saying, but had a clear view of what was happening. I was curious of the outcome, but at that moment my plane was called.

Mary’s last words to me had been to ask for my preferred window seat. “Enough people have probably canceled so you can get it now.” When I inquired the airlines simply said, “Sit wherever you please.”

We were flying back to Minneapolis on a 747. I quickly realized I could actually sit where I pleased. There was one woman from Wisconsin who was returning home and myself. That was all! We sat together and conversed about our experiences of the past week.

Shortly after returning home, I got an e-mail from my sister. She wrote with a prophetic tone, “I’m afraid our take-for-granted way of life will never be the same. We have been so complacent about moving around and doing what we wish...”
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