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The Sassy Sandpiper: Where Were You?

Wilson | Sassy Sandpiper | Columnist

On this day of remembrance, the Sassy Sandpiper’s thoughts turn to the events of 9/11/2001.

By M.R. Wilson, TB Reporter

Today, Sept.11, is the 15th anniversary of the Twin Tower attacks.

Country music singer/songwriter Alan Jackson asked, “Where were you when the world stopped turning, that September day?” (

I heard the news on the radio, driving home from an early visit to the Poynter Library.

Ground Zero | World Trade Center | Terrorist Attack

Following are excerpts from my journal entries:

Sept. 11, 2001

Tuesday, 12:05 p.m.

“The meek shall inherit the Earth…”

Perhaps the fluttering swallowtail butterfly, who visits the milkweed before the migrating monarchs. It’s a big one, yellow and black, and dips delicately into several flaming orange flowers.   I’ve made pinto beans for tonight’s taco supper. I’m writing while standing at the kitchen window, gazing out through a tiny portal of peace.

Word came earlier this morning of a world gone mad—terrorism in New York City and at the Pentagon. We are sick with grief and disbelief. I cannot bear to look at the television coverage.

8:52 p.m.

I have quit watching the news reports now, Dan Rather and others so stricken, yet somehow so professional. I have to sleep but know many will not on this night, calculating retribution.

I know tomorrow the horror will be fresh once more. Some things, my own inner struggles, seem so meaningless now. How to recover? In my darkest moments I wonder if there anything to recover for, unless it is that small, meek, emerging new world…always at such a great price, but priceless. And always hope, and always love…

Sept. 12, 2001

Wednesday, 9:40 p.m.

Parts of today were harder than yesterday; shock wore off and Fear introduced itself, especially fear for campus security at USF. (Computer engineering professor Sami Al-Arian was linked to the Palestine Islamic Jihad.)

We have thousands of new national heroes. The thugs who did this leave only a legacy of cowardice and shame.

A few days later my brother and I had this exchange over the phone:

Me: “I feel like my heart and will have been torn out of me.”

Dan: “Ah, don’t let ’em have your will, ’cause that’s what brings the heart back.”

Alan Jackson firsts asks where we were, then what we did that September day. He sings of scenarios from the fabric of life—simple, routine, often taken for granted things. HIs lyrics go on to touch more sophisticated themes: survivor guilt, loneliness amidst a crowd, reaching out to someone previously relegated to the dusty corners of a too-busy life. Jackson’s refrain reminds us that faith, hope and love “are some good things…” and the greatest is love.

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

Ground Zero | World Trade Center | Never Forget

Never Forget | World Trade Center | Ground Zero | Pentagon | Sassy Sandpiper | TB Reporter

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The Sassy Sandpiper:  Where Were You?
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The Sassy Sandpiper: Where Were You?
On this day of remembrance, the Sassy Sandpiper's thoughts turn to the events of 9/11/2001.
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TB Reporter
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