There are points in a person's life that can stick in a person's memory forever. That is the case with the morning of September 11th, 2001. I was in a motel room in Opelika, Alabama. The room had been donated to me through the Lee County Habitat for Humanity affiliate. Before heading out of the area, I was supposed to interviewed by the Opelika-Auburn News.
I remember going out to the motel lobby to get some breakfast and returning back to the room to eat it while I finished loading up the bicycle with my gear. Back in my room, I turned on the television to watch NBC's Today Show.
I remember seeing scenes of the top of one of the World Trade Center buildings being on fire with black fire coming out of it. I was amazed at seeing the events happening. It was almost like watching the movie "The Towering Inferno" but this was really happening. The next thing that I knew was seeing the jet slamming into the second tower. My jaw dropped and I stood frozen not really wanting to take my eyes away from the television screen. What pulled me away from the screen was that I had to check out and head over to the newspaper.
When I got to the newspaper office, I was directed to the news room. In the news room, there was utter chaos because of what was happening on the television screens. The towers that nobody ever thought would be destroyed were falling down. We were all glued to the horror that was being shown on the screens. I don't really remember ever being interviewed for a story. What I do remember is that I went into ministerial mode and tried to comfort as many people that needed comforting and reassurance.
Later on that night, I stopped at a church in the little town of Roanoke, Alabama that was having an ecumenical prayer service to pray for thousands of people that had been killed that morning, for the families of those victims, and for the country. The church was pretty well packed and there were people from the different churches in the area who had come together for this cause.
For the first week after the attack in New York City, I remember many churches being opened during the day for prayer. Many churches had nightly services for the people who had jobs during the day. Churches were coming together to give emotional support to their communities. There were ribbons everywhere and flags being flown.
All kinds of cars and trucks had flags flapping in the breeze. People were going around their towns with flags fastened and standing up in their pick-up truck beds. There was a big business in the sell of miniature flags for cars, flag decals for the windows, and flag bumper stickers. All of the flags in front of businesses or homes were flown at half-staff.
The patriotism lasted for about three solid weeks. After that, people started to go back to their regular lives. Having a flag waving wasn't a big thing any more. I remember seeing a lot of those miniature flags lying on the sides of the roads in the mud, grass, and water because the plastic mounts had broken.
A year later I was in Southeastern section of North Carolina. I was traveling between Wilmington, North Carolina and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Around noon-time, I was coming into the small town of Supply. There was some activity at the fire station. Some chairs were being set up in front of the station and there was a podium also being set up.
Out of curiosity, I stopped to check out what was happening. It turns out that they were getting ready to have ceremony to pay homage to the NY fire fighters who were killed at the World Trade Center the following year. They were dedicating a new flag pole that would have a plaque of remembrance next to it. When they found out that I was a minister, I was asked if I wanted to take part in it since they couldn't get a local minister to come by and take part in the ceremony. I was honored but I commented to them that I was a bit out-dressed since
most of everybody else was in their uniforms and suits and ties. After the ceremony, I got to take part in the meal for all of the guests and the firefighters and their families.
I've noticed that September 11th is just becoming another day of work and play instead of a time of meditation and prayer. I'm getting a little winded with all of this writing but what I want to do with the rest of this page is to share with you some of the great visual tributes that I come across on the internet. Also, I want to bring attention to you some great tribute websites.