By Voda Beth Gradine
It’s been twenty years since the world changed for all Americans on Sept. 11, 2001. Well, I guess I should say the world changed for all of us born after Pearl Harbor in 1941. It was the only time we had ever lived through an attack on our soil. We all remember where we were and what was going on when we heard the announcement about the first tower being hit. Let me tell you my story of that time and how I realized my daughters were grown and not under my arm being taken of.
I was in Midland working and staying at Cherryl Blair’s house. The BJB office staff where I worked had the front part of Cherryl’s house. I was at my desk when I heard noise in the back of the house. It was the radio announcer talking about the World Tower being hit by a plane. I went back to turn the television on in the living room just as the second tower was hit. The phone rang about that time from Cherryl at the oilfield yard saying stay in the house and not get on the street because America was being attacked and Midland (President Bush’s hometown) might also be hit. The other girls that worked with me arrived shortly. Just as the first one walked in the door the first tower started falling. Needless to say there was not much work done that day because we were all glued to the television.
The first thing I thought of was my family. Ronnie was in Post working at the prison, alone. Arimy was in college in Abilene at McMurry, alone or without her family, and Vondi was in Levelland at South Plains, alone. How could I get all these different places at one time? I needed my family if the world was coming to an end.
I couldn’t call Ronnie, but I started trying to reach the girls. The phone lines were not working very well. I finally got Vondi who was in her dorm with her best friend, Camille Blevins. Being the drama queen Vondi is, she was scared thinking of all the things that was going to happen. They had food in their dorm and would get out later to try to get some gasoline for their cars. Finally Arimy returned my call. She thought I was crazy to be worried about her. She was with her boyfriend (now husband) and there was nothing going to happen to us. All planes were grounded so nothing was happening at Dyess.
By this time we had also talked to all three of Cherryl’s boys. They were all telling us they were fine and not to worry about them.
This was when I realized our kids were grown and could take care of themselves. They didn’t need mama as much as we needed them.
Things changed for the entire United States that day. It will never be the same again. We lost 2,753 in New York City when American Airlines Flight #11 and United Airlines Flight #175 hit both towers of the World Trade Center. Of this 2,753 people, 343 were New York Firefighters, 23 New York Police Officers, and 37 officers at the Port Authority. The ages ranged from 2 years old to 85 years old.
Another 184 lives were lost at the Pentagon in Washington D. C. when American Airlines Flight #77 hit the Pentagon building. The heroes on United Airlines Flight #93 amounted to 40 more lives when the plane crashed in the field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
In an article of the New York Daily News this last week, it reported three fourths of all the workers of New York City’s Fire Department who worked amongst the smoldering, toxic rubble at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan now have some sort of long-term illness linked to their service, according to a new report from the department’s World Trade Center Health Program.
Of more than 15,200 firefighters, paramedics and other FDNY workers, more than 11,300 had an illness certified under the guidelines of the federally backed program, ranging from chronic acid reflux and minor breathing problems on the low end to a broad spectrum of mental health problems to deadly lung ailments and lethal cancers.
Stop and think of your lives before 911 and say a prayer for all we lost that day and since. God Bless America.