Listening to the remembrances today the sky is often referenced not only because that is where the terror came from, but how beautiful and crisp and clean it was. Sepember 11 blue it is called.
I was the promo director for LCEF in North Dakota and my good friend Bill Sharpe was a Vice President for the LCEF and the District Business Manager. He had asked me to meet in Fargo and discuss various things and I was on my way on the interstate on a beautiful morning. The sky was empty of clouds and gorgeous on a day we like to call “crisp with a hint of fall”. There was something about a “small plane” hitting the World Trade Center and a resulting fire on the radio that I wondered about. Words like “accident” and “fluke” were in the air and I thought of the historical fact that a B-29 bomber had flown into the Empire State Building in 1945. That was on a very foggy day. The skies over New York, according to the radio, was the same vibrant and crisp blue that was enjoyed here in North Dakota. An accident seemed unlikely but that is why they are called accidents.
It wasn’t long before the radio voices changed from the usual good morning smoothness to a more edgy kind of descriptive “man in the street” analysis of the fire until a second plane sliced through the second tower and the world changed. I remember feeing a kind of hollowness and the desire to have someone to talk to in order to make sense of of what was becoming senseless. My wife called on the cell phone and must have felt the same way because she said she “needed to hear my voice”.
At the office there was a sense of unreality as work went and on the television was on as well. Rumors abounded of bombs at various places and word of the realty of terror at the Pentagon came through. Bill had a military background and I remember him saying we were at war and that all around the world folks were at work trying to figure out how to find out who did these things and “screw them into the ground”. I remember the discussion we all had about stories from our parents about Pear Harbor and how they felt at the time. The sense of fear and confusion and of course the age old question of what God was up to were bandied about. The prayers before and after the meeting had an intensity that was unusual but heartfelt.
The trip home was strange. One of the tricks I used to keep at bay the boredom of hours of “windshield time” was tracking the contrails that marked the highways in the sky over what is called “flyover country”. Jets from Minneapolis, Winnipeg, Minot Air Force Base traced their paths in the blue icy air high above and the white markings left behind left in my imagination questions of origins and destinations. Where had that plane come from and based on its path through the sky where was it going? Going to the west coast I could imagine destinations like L.A or Portland. Coming from the west I could imagine sleepy passengers headed for Minneapolis and points further east. This day nothing marked the clear blue of a cloudless sky. There were no jet made clouds for me to meditate on because there were no planes in the sky, and there would not be for a long time.