I remember vividly where I was the moment the World Trade Center towers in New York were hit by terrorist-piloted planes 10 years ago today.
I was lying in bed trying to shake the sleep from my brain and get up and get ready for work. I was watching The Today Show. When their cameras suddenly showed an airplane hit the tower, I bolted upright and stared at the television in complete disbelief. I said out loud to no one in particular, “Oh, my God, oh my God.”
One year later, on Sept. 11, 2002, I had been at a week-long conference in San Diego, and was scheduled to fly home that morning. Now, I’ve never been a comfortable flyer. Ever. I know some people who get on a plane and relax so much so that they fall asleep before the flight attendant has had a chance to hand them a bag of peanuts. I’ve seen them do it. Astounding. Good for them; I’m jealous.
I don’t like heights, and I don’t like it when I’m not in control — two issues I can’t ignore when flying a commercial airline. That said, I will add that I don’t let my fears keep me from traveling, and a jumbo pre-flight cocktail helps — no matter what time of day it is. Still, I know I’d be more comfortable if the crew would just let me hang out in the cockpit to make sure they’re doing it right. No, I have no formal training whatsoever in flying, yet I can’t help but think I’d feel better if I could just watch from the front row. Since that isn’t likely to happen, I usually head for the bar.
Which is what I did on Sept. 11, 2002, before my flight out of San Diego. You see, I was just sure that the West Coast was the next target for the hateful monsters who killed more than 3,000 people in one horrific day exactly a year earlier. And in my fearful mind, I thought these evil doers would be just nasty enough to do it on the same September day. Many people disagreed with me. That day, Sept. 11, 2002, they assured me, was probably the safest day of the year for air travel. Still, I found myself in the airport bar with a jumbo fruity cocktail, silently reciting prayers to get me home safely to my little house and my dogs.
I can’t begin to comprehend the hatred that flows through a body and mind so violently that it makes human beings want to kill so badly that they use themselves and loved ones as weapons. I will never understand it. What I do know is that whether I’m flying or safely on the ground, I am thankful to be an American and to be among so many people who accept and welcome the differences around us and live their lives as such. Let the haters be damned.
The late American anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Thank God for the many heroes of our nation, heroes of 9/11, the ordinary people who acted in extraordinary ways to save total strangers from certain tragedy. Indeed, our world has changed.
With gratitude and compassion, I raise my glass toward Heaven’s blue skies in their honor and in memory of all the victims of that dark day in American history. On this day, I am easily humbled away from a self-pity party over my current anxious state. Today, my worries are few.
This cocktail reminds me of one I had at the airport, as I nervously waited to board a plane for home on 9/11/02. When we landed, the pilot, after welcoming us to our destination, paused before saying proudly, “God bless America.” I will never forget that moment.
- One healthy shot of premium vodka
- One shot Blue Curacao (an orange-flavored, blue-hued syrup)
- 1/2 shot Grand Marnier liqueur
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- One orange slice
Place first four ingredients into a chilled cocktail shaker with a couple of ice cubes and shake gently to blend; pour into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a quartered orange slice. Don’t forget to toast those you love.