EIGHINGER: We all remember where we were and what was going on 10 years ago

Posted: Sep. 10, 2011 5:26 pm Updated: Nov. 29, 2014 6:15 am


Ten years later, the words from the other end of the line remain clear.

When the phone rang, I thought it was rather early in the morning to be getting a call. And without caller ID at that time, I had no idea whose voice I would hear after I answered.

"Do you have the TV on?" asked my wife, Kathy, who rarely called me from her work.

"No," I said. "Why, is something going on?"

At that time, I was still working for the Post-Dispatch out of St. Louis, but did most of my correspondence work from home. In the mornings, I rarely had a TV or radio playing since I spent quite a bit of time on the phone and did not need the background noise.

"It's bad, real bad," Kathy continued. "Something really bad is going on."

By the time she finished that second sentence, I had moved into the living room and switched on the television. No more than 30 seconds later I saw a huge jet fly into the second Twin Tower.

"I'll call you back," I told her.

For the rest of the day and evening, I never left the living room for more than five minutes.

We all have a story similar to this. We all remember where we were and what was going on 10 years ago today. Sept. 11, 2001, is forever a part of us.

What I find equally interesting how much so many remember about the peripheral events connected with Sept. 11. I'm no different.

I remember the phone call I made to my daughter, Kaysi, a few hours after the attacks. She was still in high school back in Ohio, and I remember her voice cracking on the phone. She was concerned this was the beginning of the end of the world.

I understood her concern. This was her generation's first conflict of this or any similar nature. She was too young to have experienced Vietnam. It was only something she had read about in a textbook, much like the JFK or Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations. She was scared. (I think we all were on Sept. 11.)

A few nights after Sept. 11, I found myself covering a high school football game in Roxana, which sits little more than a good field goal away from the Mississippi River, in between Alton and Edwardsville.

There was a nervousness that night before the game. Everyone seemed preoccupied. Honestly, I don't think anyone -- fans, players, coaches -- really wanted to be there. I know I would rather have been home with my family, which was about two hours away, but life had to go on and the recovery needed to begin.

And it was that night, at this otherwise anonymous high school football field that I knew this country would survive the atrocities from a few days earlier.

About 15 minutes before the start of the game, players, cheerleaders, officials and fans from both schools came together as one. There was no special announcement, no special arrangements made beforehand.

Kids, parents, band members and football players all joined in singing "God Bless America" and "The Star-Spangled Banner." To this day, I remember the shivers running up and down my spine and wiping more than one tear away.

I was on the sideline, looking at one face after another. From teenager to senior citizen, they held hands and they sang at the top of their voices. Tears streamed down many of those faces. And everywhere I looked around that little football stadium there were American flags.

The message was loud, and the message was clear.

Ten years later, it still is.




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