Time is a funny thing. It has a way of making an event feel like it just happened yesterday and so very long ago all at the same time. Remembering the events that took place 10 years ago instills both within me.
On September 11, 2001, my family and I were at Disney World. We were on vacation. We had been at EPCOT for a very short time when we heard over the public address system to quickly and calmly make our way to the exit because the park was now closed. It was 10:00 in the morning.
At first we thought we had misunderstood and continued to make our way to the next attraction. My kids were excited. It had something to do with a car and high speed. I opted out of that one and was finding a shady place to sit and wait when I saw my husband bringing our kids back to where I was. The park employees had told him the attraction was closed, as was the park and we needed to make our way to the exit. When my husband asked them what was going on they told him they weren’t at liberty to say. Some of the employees didn’t know themselves.
My husband and I assumed there was a bomb threat or something of that nature, having to do with Disney World alone. Our kids kept asking us why we had to leave and we honestly didn’t know.
We weren’t staying inside the park on this particular trip. We were staying at a hotel in Kissimmee. We had taken the shuttle bus that morning so we headed back to the shuttle station.
We heard bits and pieces along the way but didn’t find out the whole story until we made it back to the hotel. Being the last group of people left waiting in a huge, empty parking lot only added to our feelings of apprehension.
I think the driver of the bus explained the situation to us but it was hard to wrap our minds around the enormity of what had taken place until around 1:00 in the afternoon, when we finally arrived back at the hotel and joined the group of people in the lobby glued to the television, in shock, along with the rest of the nation.
It was eerie to see a bustling city the size of Orlando closed down. We couldn’t decide what we should do. We were on vacation while our nation suffered from shock. Should we stay? Should we go home? It didn’t feel right that we should continue on with our vacation while so many were in anguish over what had happened to loved ones. Would we even be able to enjoy this time away from home?
I remember calling my parents just to touch base. I think they would have preferred we return home although they didn’t say so. It was all so surreal.
We watched the president as he addressed the nation with details. He urged and encouraged people to return to ‘regular’ life because the terrorists wanted this attack to devastate us as a nation, to stop us and it did. We chose to stay.
The next day we spent our time in Magic Kingdom. We did find enjoyment watching our kids have fun, all the while so very aware of what was going on. We went on to Panama City Beach where we had reservations for a few days. I can honestly say it was the most difficult vacation I had ever been on.
What I loved, however, was the comradery that was exhibited among so many fellow travelers. And everywhere we went there were American flags flying and ‘God Bless America’ and ‘Our Prayers Are With You’ on all the marques.
I just wanted to pause today and remember the events that changed so many lives forever. So many lives lost that day, so many left to deal with those losses. Our nation rallied and united during the weeks and months that followed. We have not forgotten.
Today I remember…and I pray.