(Americans are often asked, “Where were you on 9/11?” Coming upon the 14th anniversary of the worst terrorist acts on our country brings back vivid memories of what I was doing the morning of those attacks. I vividly recall that Tuesday morning working on the final sections of the Coal Valley News and finishing up my weekly column, “From My Window,” when news of the attack shook everyone to their core. Sometime after hearing the news and seeing pictures of the attack on the World Trade Center, I was able to pull myself together enough to scrap the column I had already written and write down some feelings relating to what had just happened, something so significant that it would prove to change our lives forever. Below is my editorial written the morning of September 11, 200l, appearing in the Coal Valley News the following day.)
“From My Window”
Yesterday morning, as our newspaper staff was preparing our Wednesday edition for publication, our phones began a constant ringing. Bits and pieces of news began coming in about a major terrorist attack on our country. We heard about the first hijacked plane, then the second, crashing into the World Trade Center in New York City, then the Pentagon attack and fire in our nation’s capital. Some people on the scene described the New York attack and its aftermath as similar to what they see in science fiction movies. Others said it was “pure hell” as firefighters and other first responders tried to reach the victims in the Trade Center, and many of them were killed or injured in the line of duty. Upon hearing of the first attack, firefighters had gone to the towers to assist victims only to become victims themselves.
Hearing these report we were horrified and terrified, almost to the point of not being able to finish our work. As Americans, we took this cowardly act personally. And we wondered with all of our sophisticated equipment, intelligence, and our mighty military how this could happen in America.
Trying to comprehend the reports of the devastation, I walked out onto our parking lot for some fresh air, wandering around aimlessly for several minutes. The sun was shining, the puffy white clouds were beautiful against the bright blue sky, and the temperature was warm and comforting. It was a perfect day here in our little corner of the world. We could not even imagine the chaos taking place in New York and Washington. Those innocent people in the airplanes and in the Trade Center and the Pentagon…and the families of the victims, I thought how horrible this must be for them. They need our prayers for strength during the difficult days, weeks, and months ahead, as do our country’s leaders.
I walked back inside the Coal Valley News office and we continued putting our newspaper together. We even managed to get an AP photo of the attack for the front page, but all of us were filled with a mixture of emotions—helplessness, sadness, sympathy, and much anger as we wanted to lash out at whoever was responsible. My initial feeling was to bomb them, kill them—whoever did this terrible thing. Adding to the frustration, we do not yet know who to punish. The president said they will be “hunted down” and identified and made to pay for this murderous act. We hope his words become reality, and that other nations will support our country’s efforts to find those responsible.
This devastating act of terrorism on our country makes me realize our vulnerability. It also reminds us, once again, how precious life is, how so suddenly it can be taken away, and despite all the pressures and stresses, we should strive to live a good and fulfilling life, one day at a time.
Let’s pray for the victims of these attacks, and for the families of the injured and lives lost. For now, that is all we can do.
Janet Yeager is a former publisher and editor of the Coal Valley News.. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org