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Lloyd Waters: There's a hole in the world tonight

September 08, 2013|By LLOYD WATERS

It was 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, and I was at work at Maryland Correctional Institution south of Hagerstown. Someone said that an airplane had flown into the World Trade Center.

I went to an adjacent office, turned on a TV and watched in horror as the blue skies over New York City turned to black, gray and then white smoke.

A plane had crashed into the 80th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

The site became even more horrific as a second plane flew into the 60th floor of the South Tower. After smoldering for several minutes, both towers came crashing down and the only thing left to be determined was the number of people buried in the debris of those buildings.

There were only six survivors from those two towers that once stood majestically some 110 floors skyward.

Some 3,000 people were buried in that eternal tomb.

As the month of September comes around each year, I pause to reflect on those events of that day, however, rational conclusions are always elusive for me.

How could you explain this incident to a stranger? What words would comfort the relatives and friends of those killed on this particular day? What could one say to the 400 families of the police officers and firefighters who died trying desperately to save those folks in the two towers?

No words would be adequate.

As the day continued, a third plane crashed into the Pentagon, causing major damage and another 125 lost lives.

As the news reporters tried to keep up with all the tragedies making the next day’s headlines, there was yet one more story to be told.

Another plane was 25 minutes late taking off from the Newark airport on its way to California. Forty minutes after Flight 93 was airborne, four hijackers took control of the plane and directed its flight path toward Washington, D.C. The White House was a suspected target.

The passengers, who had made some 37 phone calls from the plane, knew of the other hijacked planes. Although the situation was desperate, a plan was devised by the passengers to charge the cockpit and attack the hijackers.

Todd Beamer, one of the apparent leaders of the passengers, was overheard saying, “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.”

Voice recordings from the recovered black box of the plane suggest the hijackers panicked and crashed the plane at some 563 miles per hour into a field near Shanksville, Pa.

A few weeks ago, I traveled to this location and although the skies were mostly blue, the few gray clouds hovering above the wildflowers that now serenely cover that field seemed to convey the sorrow that remains even today for those families left behind.

Beamer left two sons and a pregnant wife, Lisa, who gave birth to a daughter in the aftermath of the crash.

Those passengers of Flight 93 were real American heroes.

At MCI-H that year, we had a music show in which inmates and staff raised some $5,000. We sent $2,500 to the Police and Firefighters of New York City and another $2,500 to the Todd Beamer Foundation for the education of those passengers’ children left behind.

Every American has a story of their whereabouts on Sept. 11, 2001. We should never forget those moments.

Osama bin Laden is dead, but his dark shadow lives on in the streets of Boston, Fort Hood and other places throughout the world.

Don Henley and Glenn Frey of the famous band the Eagles attempted to capture those events of 9/11 in a song titled “Hole in the World.”

They plead in those lyrics for the world to learn from its mistakes, singing “Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.”

I’m not sure anyone’s been listening.

Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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