9/11: And a sky full of silence  

IamWetFire 53F
739 posts
9/11/2006 10:09 am

Last Read:
9/20/2006 3:28 pm

9/11: And a sky full of silence

Proud to be American
Music and Lyrics by Lee Greenwood

If tomorrow all the things were gone Iíd worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife.
Iíd thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
ĎCause the flag still stands for freedom and they canít take that away.

And Iím proud to be an American where as least I know Iím free.
And I wonít forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And Iíd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
ĎCause there ainít no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.

From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee,
across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea,

From Detroit down to Houston and New York to LA,
Well, thereís pride in every American heart,
and itís time to stand and say:

Iím proud to be an American where at least I know Iím free.
And I wonít forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And Iíd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
ĎCause there ainít no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A

It was still dark outside when Leon called from the hospital.

"They just crashed a fucking jumbo jet into the fucking world trade center, babe. Get up and turn the fucking TV on. We've canceled all our surgeries. Everybody's in the fucking lounge watching it on the tv. Motherfucker. . ."

I raced to the living room of our base house and turned on the tv. The first plane had just struck and flames and black smoke were racing upward like some new sort of hell even Dante couldn't have foreseen.

We stayed on the phone, Leon and I, until the second place hit. Then, with this chilling terror I'd never heard in his voice before, he ordered me out of the house, down the hill to the base gas station to fill up the tank in my van.

I don't think I even got dressed. Just went with sweats, tshirt, no bra or underwear and my purse slung over my shoulder.

I have never before or since heard such bone crushing silence.

Not a soul stirred in base housing, normally a bustling hive of stay-at-home moms with mobs of small preschool children. No one. Not a single open blind in a single window.

But scariest of all was the silence in the sky. This is the hub of the Navy's electronics warfare division. Even as I type this there is the distant roar of Prowlers coming this way on their path to war-game over the Cascade mountain range. You learn quickly to tune it out, otherwise you'd go crazy.

As I drove the 15 mph speed limit, hard pressed not to floor the gas in my disquiet, I remember there was no security along the harbor and one of the largest fuel farms in the region 3 blocks from our home.

What better way to hamstring the Navy's electronic warfare people than to bomb their families into oblivion.

I got to the bottom of the hill and it was a ghost town. . .but for the Marines and Seabees in full camo with rifles, humvees and a tank near the front gate. Everything and I mean everything was locked down and barricaded. I turned the van around and went back to the house.

I tried to call Leon, but the hospital switchboard had been locked down and the jamming on the base killed his cellphone.

I could only sit, watching in horror as the news of the Pentagon hit came in. We knew people there. We had friends stationed there.

Near nightfall, Leon was finally able to call. He didn't know when they would open the gates to NASWI so that he could come home. And, even if they did, would the Seaplane base gates--where our home was--still be locked down allowing no one on or off the base?

We just talked about nothing and everything, needing the sound of each others voices with those dead silent skies over us. We didn't talk about the rumor that the part of the Pentagon hit was where our Nurse Corps offices were. We did talk about the word that was being handed down from on high that Naval periop nurses were being pulled from across the country to go to the USS HOPE and COMFORT, slated for inport at NY harbor. . .for burn treatment and body processing.

I wanted him to go and I didn't want him to go. The dichotomy of Navy wifedom. He wanted to go and he didn't want to go. The dichotomy of being a patriotic American serving in our armed forces.

When the smoke cleared and casualties were assessed, we knew at least one of the nurses who died in the Pentagon--Leon had served with them at Naval Medical Center San Diego. We knew three of the corpsmen, all young people with families. Leon served with them at National Naval Medical Center Bethesda.

Months later, when my PTSD surfaced, my therapist tied it to 9/11. And the single most haunting image I'd seen. A Time magazine photo. A close-up of one of the Towers' jumpers. . .like some hysterical skydiver, one shoe on, one off. . .with his sock all eschewed. I still cry when I think of that picture, burned onto the back of my eyelids forever.

And just when we thought another Pearl Harbor could not happen. . .we were shown our arrogance and laxity and thousands paid the price of the hatred of strangers.

Some mornings I still wake up suddenly when there is a lack of jet noise overhead. . .and I have to wonder and be afraid of that sky full of silence.

_Safira 54F
11260 posts
9/11/2006 10:29 am

WETFIRE ~ Thank you so very much for sharing this story. And please thank LEON for me. I, too, suffer from PTSD. Here is my brief story and tribute: 911 Who I Am. *massive hugs* / {=}

This is my blog - Comes With Warning Labels. There are many like it, but this one is mine.


rappahannock_man 63M
1102 posts
9/11/2006 11:36 am

I will never forget driving over to the Pentagon a few days after 9-11 and staring at the smoke-blackened walls....

9-11: history turned hard to starboard.

IamWetFire 53F

9/14/2006 10:09 am

Dear Safira Thank you so much for sharing that link. What an amazing post!

RM Thanks for dropping into the Grotto to share your thoughts, too.

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