This week’s Wednesday Wanderings took me to Gray’s Lake. Volunteers from The United States Air Force and Clear Channel Media & Entertainment placed 3,213 flags to create the “Tribute Trail” at Gray’s Lake. The flags will remain up until Monday morning.
Although I did venture out to take photos of the flags, this post is more of a mental wandering. It was beautiful to see all of these flags blowing in the wind today, and stirred up mixed emotions. I was feeling patriotic and proud to be an American, but also sad as I remembered the events of that day.
I remember the morning of September 11th so vividly. I was working at Innova Ideas and Services in Ames. All of the designers were in the basement, and I was in the pod closest to the break room. The president of our company came in from outside and told us a plane had hit one of the two towers of the World Trade Center. Our little Innova family went back to watch the news on the tiny tv sitting next to the popcorn machine. We gathered around and watched – having no idea what was going on. I remember being so confused at first, wondering how someone could have accidentally flown into a skyscraper.
Then we saw the second plane hit – still having no real clue as to what was going on. I remember Steve trying to figure things out, and explaining the possibilities to the rest of us. I remember Jenny telling us about another plane crash, but we were just sure this was all unrelated.
As both towers fell, we were all in disbelief. It was hard to process it all, and nobody really knew what to say or do.
Later in the afternoon, I walked across the street to get a coffee. The two older ladies in front of me were talking about the day’s events – still wondering how they would get all of those people out of the burning wreckage. Sadly, they had not yet heard about the twin towers collapsing. They were both in shock when I told them the news, and just started to cry.
I remember how odd everything felt driving home after work. Everyone I saw had blank looks on their faces. I watched the news that evening with feelings of shock and extreme sadness. I wanted to just turn the television off as the news was so hard to watch, but then felt so guilty. I could have easily shut off the television and done my best to ignore the news from over a thousand miles away. What hit me though, was knowing the complete chaos and messiness of the day was reality for so many.
The events of that day changed our lives and the world we live in forever. We are now used to practicing emergency-evacuation drills at school and work. We now have more rules and regulations in place for flying on an airplane. The Department of Homeland Security is an organization we are all familiar with today – a result of 9/11.
But sometimes we (well, I know I do) tend to forget about the 3,213 people who lost their lives that day – not as a whole, but as individuals. Each flag at Gray’s Lake represents someone – a parent, a child, a spouse, a sibling, a grandparent, a cousin, a coworker, a neighbor, a distant relative, a pastor, a supervisor, a friend… and the list goes on. Each of these flags – they all have a name. All 3,213 of them. Every single one.
May we also honor them by continuing to move forward – feeling love, strength and joy. May we call our family and friends to tell them how much we love them. May we smile at a stranger on the street, and lend a helping hand to someone in need. We are blessed to call the United States of America our home – we can all do a small part in making our country’s light shine a little brighter on a day that tends to be darker than the rest.
Happy Wanderings, friends! Let your light shine!