Sept. 11, 2001, was a Tuesday.
Just like every Tuesday for the past 10 years (and more than 100 years before that) the staff of The LaRue County Herald News was putting together the Wednesday paper.
The Sept. 12 paper was an informative issue with stories about the murder of a veteran in Upton, a teen injured in a car crash, Upton residents in an uproar when an adult bookstore “The Lion’s Den” opened, the death of legendary sports commentator Cawood Ledford and youth league soccer.
We were very close to completion – that is, when we start the proofreading process – when we received a phone call from a lady who insisted that a plane had just hit the twin towers and “both Pentagons.”
We all looked at each other – and shrugged it off. Just a few weeks prior, someone had crashed a paraglider into the Statue of Liberty. I thought she must have just heard about that episode.
A couple of weeks before that 9/11 phone call, the same lady had called to report a UFO hovering over her home. A few weeks before that, she reported a police chase that culminated in a huge fiery crash in her front yard. No local police agencies could recall being involved in such an incident.
We couldn’t verify the UFO either.
A decade ago, the Internet was not quite what it is today and we did not have a TV in the office. When we finally found a working radio, we learned that the caller, while not entirely accurate, knew more than we did.
It was difficult to complete the regular items of the weekly paper, not knowing the full extent of what had happened in New York or what the next moment or next day would bring. Terrorists? America under attack? Impossible!
Later that evening, my son Daniel stood in our backyard and stared at the sky. He had been listening to the televised reports and heard that all flights were grounded while the government continued to sort out the attacks.
I walked outside to talk to him.
“The FAA canceled all flights,” he said. “I just wanted to see what the sky looked like when there were no planes in it.”
That year, my son was 15 and my daughter Amanda was in her first year of college. I did not know what the future would hold for them or for any of us.
Things would never be the same.
It was not until the following day that the Herald’s coverage turned to prayer circles, patriotic assemblies and the long lines at gas stations in response to a presumed gas shortage.
Seven years later, the war on terrorism was still going strong. Daniel decided to enlist to join in the fight – just as several of his friends had. However, it was a car wreck, not a war zone, that ended his life. On the day he was to be sworn in, we had his funeral.
I relive that day every time I hear of the death of one of our servicemen. I am not alone. Our community has buried two young men who volunteered to serve. And there have been more than 2,600 lost since the war’s beginning.
For every one of those fallen service men and women, there is a family struggling to make sense of the loss and in most cases, failing to find any answers. So many parents, spouses and children walking around with great holes in their chests – where their hearts used to be.
Unless you’ve been living a charmed life – or crawled under a rock – you’ve felt the impact of the last 10 years. There is no comfort zone.
So many paths changed – so many lives ended.