Wasn't that how President Roosevelt described the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941? We could say the same of the tragedy that occured in our land on September 11, 2001. It is like other tragedies in that most of us can probably remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when the unbelievable news was broadcast. It's also unique compared to other tragedies - our country, our land of the free, our home of the brave had been attacked and our innocent citizens killed and maimed, all in the name of . . . what?
On that sad day, I was blissfully unaware that anything was amiss. It was early in the morning and I was busy with housework and wondering what I'd fix for dinner that night. My daughter called and asked if I was watching the news on TV. I told her I wasn't, and she insisted I needed to tune in and see what was happening. As long as I live, I will never forget the things I saw and heard that day and in the days that followed, and I will never forget my daughter's anguish.
As we watched in horror as the tragedy unfolded, we were talking, crying, and trying to calm and reassure each other, all at the same time. We thought it was possible World War III had begun and the end of the world as we knew it was imminent. We stayed on the phone for a long time. While we were trying to console each other, the next unthinkable thing happened. We witnessed the collapse of the twin towers and we could barely keep from screaming in agony over those who were lost, and for our own pain at watching as it happened. It was the most horrific thing we'd ever seen.
It was especially difficult for my daughter. She hadn't been married long. She had two young children and was just beginning her life as wife and mother. Things were going well for her, yet there were terrorists from who-knew-where, attacking our country and threatening the very lives and futures of all Americans.
In my daughter's lifetime, she had lived through a few disturbing times - deaths of celebrities, the disbanding of favorite musical groups, the loss of a few extended family members, and then, the Challenger Disaster occured. If I recall correctly, she and her fellow students were watching that unfold on a TV in their classroom. That was indeed very tragic but nothing could have prepared her for what happened on September 11, 2001.
The emotion-filled situation reminded me of another time and another tragedy. I was in junior high school when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I vividly remember how devastatingly sad that time was. It's something I'll never forget. The tragedy of 9/11, as we've come to call it, was something my daughter would remember just as I remember the tragic events of November 22, 1963.
I don't know if our country is safer now than it was in 2001. I don't know if enough has been done or could ever be done to thwart such ruthless, cowardly attacks. I don't know which candidate for president can keep us safer - or if there is ANYone who can keep our nation safe from those who would harm us. There is a lot I don't know.
But there is something I DO know....and that is, we are a nation whose people pull together when tragedy strikes. Yes, we still have many problems to fix, but when push comes to shove, we band together and help each other. We show compassion to those who suffer loss. We do what we can to ease their pain. We join in their sorrow and we pray for peace and comfort for the survivors of tragedy. We are still a strong nation and we will prevail.
I pray that we never have to face such tragedy again, that we eventually find peace in this world, and that we always remember those who were lost - the innocent and those who tried desperately to save them. LET US NEVER FORGET!