Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Do you believe in luck?

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on September 11, 2008

I don’t.

A friend of mine was in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. His wife had a business trip there, and he accompanied her. That morning, she went to a meeting, and he was going to go site-seeing. To the World Trade Center. To see the view from the top. The alarm was set for him to wake up in time to get there early.

His wife was at her meeting, when life as we know it was interrupted by the news reports of the orchestrated terrorist attack against our country. Knowing her husband’s plans, she “knew” he was in one of the burning buildings, at the top. Frantic, she called her husband’s cell phone… and woke him out of a sound sleep in their hotel room. The alarm did not go off. Some call it luck. I don’t.

We will not forget.

That morning, I was sick and stayed home from work, so saw everything that was broadcast on TV. I remember how that people lined up to give blood, for all the survivors of the attack; and how people with “minor” injuries were transported to further-away hospitals, so that close hospitals could deal with the people who survived with major injuries; and that all non-emergency operations were canceled and rescheduled, so that ORs and ERs could provide necessary care (and have plenty of blood) for all the wounded people who made it out alive. Only… there weren’t that many survivors with major injuries. The ORs were empty, because the buildings fell, and anyone who was too injured in the initial attack did not make it out alive. I know there were many people who sustained severe injuries, from fire, falling debris, etc., but the thousands upon thousands of severely injured people that were expected to need medical care at the nearest hospitals didn’t make it out. It seemed almost as if there were only the “walking wounded” who were able to be quickly and safely transported to further-away hospitals, so that the more serious emergencies could be given first priority — only, everybody else perished when the buildings crashed. I remember seeing some reporters at hospitals that were close to Ground Zero, waiting, alongside the hospital staff, for the scores of victims… who never came.

That afternoon or the next day, I remember looking up into the sky and noticing for the first time a distinct lack of white contrails against the blue backdrop. In a few days when air travel resumed, every time I saw or heard an airplane, I grew nervous — knowing that security was super-tight, and there would not be a repeat… yet wondering if there would be.

It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years! In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday, as I sit here and think on the things I saw and heard that awful day, and in the succeeding week of non-stop news coverage —  the agonizingly slow and ultimately fruitless search for any living thing that might have survived; the pause in the search when a body was discovered and carefully transported down the pile of rubble; and then the inevitable news that they had given up hope, and were switching to cadaver dogs, to find any human remains.

And yet, for me and for most people, life has gone on, and those horrible attacks are something we remember only rarely, except around this time of year. For those who were personally affected, I know it is much different.

I would like to say “Thank you” to all of those who have contributed through these past seven years, to keep our country safe from her enemies, and to those who have worked tirelessly to prevent another such attack. While I know little of the clandestine world of spies and secret ops (most of my knowledge is what you see in movies or read in popular books), I know that most of the people in the world, myself included, have no clue what measures have been taken at trying to stop the bad guys from hurting the innocent. While it is not enough, it is all I can offer. Thank you.

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