“Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?” Alan Jackson, “Where Were You”
Have you heard that tune? While I don’t remember all the words, the internets can help with that, and the words definitely provoke some strong feelings and memories.
Today is Patriot Day. For so many people on Sept. 11, 2001, the change was swift and often tragic. Many people, all over the United States, are still living the ramifications of that day, whether directly or indirectly.
Life changes all the time, in an instant, for a friend, a family, or a community, even New York City. So what (and who) are your priorities?
While at a family gathering recently in small-town Nebraska, I found myself reflecting on priorities and how important it is to appreciate loved ones, both family and friends. It seems like Patriot Day also give a chance for entertaining such thoughts.
We were at a town that seems idyllic, but I’m sure people have their challenges and issues, as happens everywhere. This is also a town that was hit very hard by winds and baseball-sized hail earlier in the summer. No tornadoes, but there was plenty of damage. Many windows are still boarded up, and seeing people on roofs is a regular occurrence as homes are still being repaired.
During our visit, the scaffolding attached (or next to) to the house across the street collapsed. The two people on the roof (one of whom was the homeowner) were there amid the rubble, on the ground. They were at the highest point of the old house, so they both fell a good 20 feet. The volunteer fire department brought both of the town’s ambulances. The first responders, including a town policeman, were efficient and took great care in loading the gentlemen onto backboards and transporting them to the hospital.
Time can do funny things in a situation like that. Although 911 was called quickly and the policeman was there very fast, it seemed like it took forever for ambulances to arrive, although it really wasn’t very long, and it was very interesting to see the volunteer firefighters/EMTs meet the ambulances at the site for efficiency. All these vehicles descended at the house, and each first responder jumped out of his or her vehicle (you know you’re in a small town when …). They seemed to do a well-rehearsed dance, and you could see the hard work, concern and speed needed. We learned later that the two most likely would survive, but the extent of the damage they face is unknown, as each man on the roof broke his back.
Although I don’t know the people hurt, just as I didn’t personally know anyone in the Sept. 11 tragedy, it is still easy to empathize and think about the “what ifs.”
But it’s most important to face the new reality and call, write and hug loved ones. Because events and tragedy, whether personal or even nationwide, often elicit strong emotions in those who experience them. However, it’s the action afterwards that counts.
Please take that “where were you then” moment, think about it in the best way you know how, and then use it to provide a positive memorable moment for someone close to you. Because who are your priorities?
Happy Patriot Day.