Thoughts and memories of Sept. 11, 2001
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2001: Bill and I went to the airport to pick up his son, Billy, and wife Margie. They had flown in for a visit from Minneapolis. Margie was worried about flying because she was afraid they might get hijacked on the way. We all laughed at the idea of anyone hijacking an airplane in this day and age.
Tuesday morning (Sept. 11): I was drinking my coffee and half-listening to the radio, when the announcer said something about a tower getting hit by an airplane. As the next song started, I thought it was insensitive to plug a movie scene over the air like that. When the song ended and the DJ continued to talk about some kind of disaster, I told Bill to turn on the TV and see what was going on.
It's hard to describe my feelings … fear, disbelief, panic. I woke Billy and told him he needed to come out and see what was happening. I had to get ready for work.
At 8 a.m., I left for work at the school district office. We didn’t get much done because everyone was glued to the TV, waiting for answers. It all seemed so unreal.
The rest of the week is a blur — between calling family, watching the news, and trying to find a way for Billy and Margie to get back to Minneapolis. All flights were canceled, trains weren’t running, even a car could only be rented for local travel.
Sunday morning, Bill packed a suitcase, drove the kids to the airport with a plan to drive them home if necessary. The airport was full of people waiting for a flight. Miraculously, the first plane to take off was the one they had tickets on, so they were able to board without a problem.
Between Mayor Darrell Kerby and the school district superintendent, it was decided to cancel school on Monday and hold a community support and prayer meeting at the old high school gymnasium. Everyone was invited to attend, but no one was required to go.
All of the district office staff walked over and took a seat near the back of the auditorium. I watched as the local firemen, dressed in their firefighter’s gear, entered at the back of the room. Next came the police officers in uniform to join them.
Next to arrive were firemen from Creston, British Columbia.
This was beginning to be very emotional … and then the whole high school football team entered together and sat a couple of rows ahead of me. They were all dressed for football practice, but came to the ceremony instead.
After the mayor gave an inspirational message, he introduced the mayor of Creston, who talked about our two small towns — divided by an international border, but held together by a special bond.
He talked about how the United States is always first to support any country in times of disaster and, now, it’s time for others to return that support. As he presented the mayor with a check, he said he was going to give nationally, but decided to support our town locally.
A mayor from Alberta sent a message that he had planned to join us, but circumstances prevented it. However, he sent money to the National Red Cross in our name.
Next, a pastor from one of the Creston churches addressed the crowd. He said their church was full on Sunday. He had put out a special box for donations to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, and said nearly everyone in attendance made a donation. This box was presented to the mayor.
When I start to feel depressed and worried about our country … I remember that day at the old high school auditorium. I remember the feeling of pride when I looked to the back of the room and saw all of those uniformed men — and representatives from two countries coming together.
And when I hear people wanting to give up on the youth of this country — I remember that row of Bonners Ferry High School football uniforms sitting two rows in front of me.
NONA KAYE CLARK
“Don’t let despair define you. Be alive and useful as a prisoner of hope.” Ralph K. Ginorio