The past few weeks have had everyone reflecting on the 10th anniversary of September 11. It is so hard to believe so much time has passed. Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing the moment the horrifying news came across the airwaves that our nation was under attack.—it seemed like time stood still for what seemed like forever.
It’s funny what we remember about life-changing events and the people who touched our lives as a result. I was in the seventh grade in Minneapolis and was sitting in history class when our teacher, Mrs. Woodward, was suddenly called out of class. When she returned, tears were streaming down her face as she tried to explain that President Kennedy had been shot and for that reason, school was dismissed until further notice. She was so caring and calm for each student, as all of us were so scared and wondered what could possibly be happening to our country. She hugged every single student and assured us that we would get through this tragedy. I will never forget Mrs. Woodward and her strength that day.
Fast forward to September 11, 2001, Naples, Florida. Bob and I were living in Boston, but had just arrived in paradise two days earlier to enjoy a few glorious days at our brand new Bay Colony condo before heading to a business convention in Orlando. Bob had already left for an early golf match that day. I was busy making the bed while watching Mark Haines on CNBC’s Squawk Box, something I did every morning before heading outside for a walk. .I never missed watching Mark Haines.. He was smart, funny and never pulled any punches. As the horrible events of the terrorist attacks were played out for the next several hours, Mark Haines is the one I will always remember taking me through every agonizing moment with stern resolve, never a note of panic in his voice. Sadly, Mark Haines passed away this summer, but as they memorialized him on CNBC, they constantly referenced his broadcasting savvy on September 11, 2001. I will never forget Mark Haines and the strength and calm he had that day.
Bob and I were on one of the very first flights, if not the first., back to Boston’s Logan Airport after September 11. We needed to get home and the first opportunity was the Saturday after the attacks. Tickets were not easy to come by, the lines at RSW were out the door and the security was massive. Plus, Logan Airport was where two of the hijacked planes had originated. Everyone on our flight was terrified, yet determined to get home. The plane taxied down the runway—only to come to a screeching halt. The pilot calmly said there was an electrical malfunction that he was sure could be fixed. Twenty minutes later, we were on our way again—only to have takeoff aborted once again. And 45 minutes later, a third aborted attempt. The pilot apologized profusely and said there would need to be an equipment change. Our flight to Boston was to have left at 10 a.m. was now rescheduled to depart at 6 that evening.
We finally boarded the new aircraft and until we were finally airborne, it seemed not one passenger took a breath. Every time the plane bumped just a little, there was a collective gasp. It was dark and everyone was tired but frightened, not knowing what to expect with each second in flight or what would be waiting when we arrived in Boston. The pilot told us that Logan Airport was under military guard, as if we were at war.
We finally, and gratefully, landed in Boston. As we taxied to the gate, the entire airport looked like a war zone. Military vehicles were everywhere, yet the terminal itself appeared to be empty. The pilot welcomed us to Boston and thanked everyone for their patience and endurance. The main cabin door was opened, and in walked the biggest, scariest-looking MP (Military Police) I had ever seen., even in the movies. He had a German Shepherd and an AK-47 in tow. I can say for certain my heart jumped into my throat, until he started talking. This soldier had the calmest voice and demeanor as he told us “Welcome Home” and “you are safe here.” He told us Logan Airport was secure, that we all would be escorted to either Baggage Claim or the Taxi Stands, and if there was anything any of us needed, to let him know. I have no idea what that soldier’s name was, but I will never forget him and his strength and calm and words of comfort that day.
Never forget. Ever.