Just Another 9/11 Memoir

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(Courtesy of Robert Sigrist)

New York - Ground Zero

With the 10th anniversary of the tragic 9/11 attacks, I felt compelled to pen a few lines about my thoughts related to that day. I’ll be honest; I don’t know how much of the news stories, documentaries, and witness accounts I’ll be able to watch. It is interesting to me, but disturbing, and I honestly tend to just get a little overwhelmed with all of the coverage.  It’s like picking at a scab that never quite heals over; it doesn’t consume my thoughts, but it’s still there.

Like most, I remember exactly where I was when I found out. I was on my plan period that morning as a science teacher at Lafayette High School in St. Joseph, MO.  I saw on Yahoo that a plane had hit the World Trade Center and walked across the hall to tell my colleague, Butch James. I figured it was some random accident, and went about my business.

I flipped on the television in my room just to see some of the updates and footage. Not much later, I looked up at the TV to see that a 2nd plane had hit. I walked over to Butch and told him that he may want to turn the TV on in his room, which something must be up with the 2nd plane hitting. I remember the rest of the day pretty much as a blur, trying to have some semblance of class, but with all of us pretty much glued to the television coverage that I left on in my classroom.

I talked to my wife that morning to just make sure things were ok with her. She said that my son (now 15) came walking in to her from watching Good Morning America and said, “Mom, a plane just flew into that building”. I’m not sure how good his memory of the event is now, or if the memory has almost been created because of the number of times we’ve relived that morning. I remember people were slightly panicked, and I know that evening we sat in line at a gas station because everyone wanted to fill their tanks up to make sure they had gas. The unknown was literally staring us in the face. Uncertainty was the overwhelming emotion most of us had.

I don’t have a lot of specific memories of the days that followed, but lots of general ones. I know I had a feeling of wanting to do something, probably wanting in some way to fight back. I had served in the Army National Guard from 1989-98 and it was all I could do to not go to a recruiting office and rejoin. I remember the skies were so quiet. A few days later, I was on a ladder working on a storm window at our house, and I heard a plane flying over.

C-130J-30-Hercules

It literally scared me for a moment. I then saw it was a C-130 from our nearby Air Guard base. To this day, the sound of them flying over is a comfort and a reminder of the men and women who protect us daily. I remember going to a Chiefs football game not long after 9/11, the first one after the attack. The security was so amped up, and the there was a nervous feeling in the air. I remember the flyover and the national anthem and the feelings of patriotism that day. I remember that it was silly, but something as simple as attending a football game in a big crowd was our way of saying “we won’t live in fear”.

I know I was fortunate. I didn’t know anyone who was personally affected by the attack. The closest I can claim is that I know someone who was in the Pentagon when the plane hit and that I played Little League baseball with someone who would have been in the tower, but was late for work that day. I know the world really did change that day. My kids have never known just walking up at the last minute to get on a flight or telling someone goodbye at the gate. My good friends tell the story of driving to the airport late one Friday night with an overnight bag and driving up and saying “where is the next flight going?” Wouldn’t happen after 9/11.Just as I was nearly 10 years ago, I will be at a Chiefs football game this Sunday. I look forward to a patriotic scene once again. My life wasn’t affected as much as it was for others by the events of 9/11, but I know it will never actually be quite the same for any of us. I pray that inspite of the political infighting that goes on in our country; we will never need something like this to draw us together again.

About Dr. Robert Sigrist

I am a high school assistant principal in St. Joseph, MO, the city where the Pony Express started and Jesse James ended. I’m a big sports geek and love Chiefs’ football, KU basketball, and all Missouri Western State University sports. I am married to my high school sweetheart, Kim, and we are the co-creators of Alex and Alison. I am a proud graduate of Highland Community College (KS) and Missouri Western State University. I received my masters degree in administration from Northwest Missouri State University and my Doctorate from the University of Missouri in 2010.