On 9 11 2001




My thoughts ...

Pictures by James Nachtwey / VII for TIME


... written September 12, 2002 ... one year later

When I was small I couldn’t wait for Christmas to come, I couldn’t wait for my birthday to come, I couldn’t wait to date, I couldn’t wait to grow up ... some may think I never did ... but one thing is sure ... time crept by slowly as a child ... but now as an adult, the velocity of time passing is barely countable before it is gone.  This past year sped true to form.  But what a year ... a year unlike any other in my life.  I measure the past year through yesterday, September 11, 2002.

That morning, September 11, 2001, driving to work on I-85N at 8:45 a.m., the announcer stated unemotionally, “...a plane has hit the World Trade Center.”  My first reaction was, “huh?”  Then when the first account described the plane as small, a vision of King Kong on the Empire State Building, batting away at the pesky little plane, flashed into my mind.  The enormity of what had just happened never crossed my mind; in fact I also remember thinking ... “well, it’s still sort of early ... it’s just a small plane that got off course, and hopefully folks are slow getting to work - better now than later when more folks could be involved.”  TIME, from the minute I walked into my office building safe and secure, crept slowly once again ... this time at a “grave tempo” ... at least for a while.

On an office TV, I saw my country attacked, for the first time, here on our land; I saw Americans dying; I saw others suffering untold pain; but I saw resolve as I had never witnessed ... I saw my country, my people come out of those ashes with a strength ... raw, tough and determined, and I will never forget that.  I learned that this country, even with it’s human failings, still is ... at the core of it ... GOOD; without question.  I was proud of that ... it was TIME we connected in unity as a country; it had been far too long.

And I finally understood the “separation of church and state” thing ... oh yes, we remain separate from any controlling religion in our country, as well we should; but we remain a country “under God” ... and faith in God is what the ‘fathers of our country’ stood on firmly, and they further understood it as necessary to give them the fortitude and wisdom in laying the foundation for this, our country ... thank God they did!!!  It was TIME I understood that, and I gave thanks, while in a posture of sorrow, for the sacrifices they made for all of us!

It was also TIME that I understood the impact of the last year on my life.  I do not recall a year that ever affected my life more than the last.  In thinking about it, I thought perhaps the time was right for certain happenings.  Looking more closely, I now understand how the experience of September 11, 2001 changed me ... in the way I saw and understood things NOW, the way I responded, the way I understood that we only have this moment of time ... and we’d better make it count!!!  It was TIME I faced that.

As my journey through the year continued, I stumbled upon a wonderful happening that completely changed my life ... who would have ever thought that old Albany High friends, and new Albany High friends, would stretch my heart in ways not known for a long time.  It has been a blessing and a balm ... at just the right TIME! 

TIME is precious ... so are friends ... so is our country .... just wanted to make sure I passed that on to YOU!

~ Beverly Smith (Zacharias) Herrington  


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