I remember September 11, 2001, like it was yesterday. There are very few days of my life that I remember with more detail than the day our nation was so brutally violated.
It was early Tuesday morning. My husband was working nights, so I was in the house alone. I always enjoyed my mornings of solitude, when the house was quiet. With no radio or TV blaring, I loved to sit and drink my coffee and read a bit before getting ready to go to work. Sometimes, just before I stepped into the shower, I would hit the button on the stereo so that when I got out, I could listen to my favorite country and western station. This particular morning, I hit that button and then turned on the water.
When I got out of the shower, I did not hear music on the radio. I heard shouting and screaming. The radio hosts were talking like wild people. I wondered what in the world was going on. Nothing they said made sense, so I ran into the living room, dripping wet, not a stitch of clothing, and turned on the television. What I saw was unbelievable. The twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were both burning, and the TV was showing a replay of the plane crashing into the South Tower.
I stood there, both horrified and mesmerized, as I watched people jumping out of windows from about 100 stories high, and billowing smoke flowing from the buildings. Suddenly, I saw one of the buildings just collapse — all the way to the ground. Whoosh! The building was GONE!
Time stood still for me. I could not move. I just watched the television and tried to digest the horrific sight in front of me. THEN, even though I had just seen a tower collapse, what happened less than half hour later, shocked me as much as what I had just seen. The other tower collapsed, too.
I was frozen. I didn’t cry. I didn’t scream. I just could not believe what I saw. It was horrible. Who could do this? Why? If ever I felt there was evil in this world, it was at that moment in time.
I don’t remember how long I stood there watching that screen, but eventually I got dressed and ready for work. I was working in Fresno at the time, and I must have been very late that day. It took over 30 minutes for me to get to work, and I remember all the way I kept saying in my mind, “How dare they do this! How dare they do this to us!”
Afterwards, we learned of the other attacks that were planned, at the Pentagon and another that possibly was headed for the White House, but was foiled by the brave passengers on the flight.
By the time I got to work, my coworkers knew what had happened, and felt the same way I did about the evil deeds done by the terrorists. These were crazy, demonic people who cared nothing for the lives of others.
I had an idea. I wanted to go get flags, American flags. I wanted to give a flag to everyone I saw, and I wanted to show my love for the United States of America.
So, I left the office to go looking to buy flags. There weren’t many stores near where I worked, but I went to a few small markets. No flags. Then, I went to Long’s Drugs. I told them I wanted flags. They could not find a single American flag in their store. Not one single flag. Finally, one of the clerks said she knew there was a basket on the top of one of the shelves that had some little flags. She brought them to me, and asked me how many I wanted. They were 49 cents each. At first, I told her to give me half a dozen. Then, I said, “Give me all of them.” So, I walked out of Long’s Drugs that day with about 50 little flags on sticks. I gave a flag to everyone I saw that day.
On the radio Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” was played over and over again, and we were inspired to show how much we loved America. In the days and weeks and months to come, Americans all over the country were showing their American flags, their support for the country they loved. It was a time of unity for our nation.
I will never forget the day of infamy called 9/11. We must always remember and honor those who perished that day.
May God always bless the U.S.A.
— Nancy Simpson,
The Madera Tribune