Reflections of 9-11 in Tribute to Kevin T. Szocik

Kevin T. Szocik Memorial Gate 9-11 Tribute Lunenburg MA

Today, in my hometown a beautiful memorial will be dedicated on behalf of one of our own who lost his life on that fateful day.

Kevin T. Szocik Memorial Gate 9-11 Tribute Lunenburg MA

Image courtesy of Kevin T. Szocik Memorial Gate on Facebook

The Kevin T. Szocik Memorial Gate has been built & erected as the main gate to the Lunenburg High School football field.  Kevin was an amazing athlete.  More than that, he was an amazing man and while I didn’t know him directly (as he was five years younger than I), I did however know his mom, Sheila and his sister Lisa.  My fondest memories are of being the voice of the “morning announcements” at Lunenburg High where Sheila made sure every morning we were prepped and ready to go.  Sheila is one of the kindest people I have ever met and the Szocik family – they are all just really good folks.

I’ve spent the last hour just really reflecting on this day, praying for the Szocik family and the countless volunteers, donors, & supporters of Kevin’s Gate.  This time caused me to go back and look at my own reflections from 9/11 and I realized I had never published them here.  Not sure why.  But, I feel like today is a good day to share them as kind of my tribute to Kevin & the Szocik family since I can’t be there for the dedication and well, I just feel like I need to share.

Outside of lighting a candle in memory of today (which is burning already), here is the last thing I will do today to pay tribute to those whose lives were lost, the families who miss them, to those who continue to fight for our freedoms, and to the families that support them.  May God to continue to Bless us all.


My Reflections of 9/11

I stare at a blank piece of paper not knowing exactly what it is that I want to say.  It’s day two of the “attack on America”, as it is being called by the media.  Yesterday I was in shock and utter sadness.  Today I’m still in shock or is numb the better word?  I made an effort at going to work today.  I do work for a wonderful nonprofit organization, one that has the unique opportunity of making itself available for counseling and other services anyone might need relating to a horrific event.  Even still, I could not concentrate, again, and this time all I could do was cry as I made my way to the office this morning.

Yesterday, September 11th, 2001 four commercial airlines were hijacked in the United States – two deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center in New York’s financial district ultimately toppling the twin towers to the ground – one made a suicide dive directly into America’s greatest source of safety and defense, the Pentagon, taking out an entire section of what was once thought of as a secure building that could withstand terrorist activity.  And, still another plane meant for a suicide mission over another American landmark in the nation’s capitol, crashed miles away from it’s intended target.  It’s the anniversary of the Mid-East Peace Accords.

My boss asked me what it was that I wanted to do and I couldn’t give her a definitive answer.  I wanted to give blood.  I wanted to go home and watch the coverage on TV constantly so that I wouldn’t miss any new developments.  I wanted to go to church to pray and/or worship with others.  I wanted to volunteer or help in any other way that I could besides giving blood.  I wanted to spend the day with my husband just holding onto him so that I physically knew he was there.  I wanted to do something positive for me that I would like, something that didn’t involve any thought or concentration but that I would enjoy.  I wanted to make arrangements to go see my family, especially my sister and my new nephew when he’s born in a week or so, but being afraid to fly now, I’m not sure I’m ready to move forward with those plans.

There’s so much that I wanted to do but nothing that I could pinpoint would make me feel at ease.  I can’t get used to the fact that something as horrendous as what happened yesterday actually happened.  I can’t believe that in my lifetime, I would have to endure such tragedy even though it hasn’t touched me as personally as it has touched others.  I can’t make sense of it.  I tried to pray yesterday but I couldn’t figure out what to say.  I mean, how could I thank God for my blessings?  I felt that was too selfish of me given the circumstances.  Then, I didn’t know what to ask of God.  Because there are so many things to ask, how do you put them in an order of importance?

I grieve for those that were trapped in the World Trade Center towers.  I grieve for those that were instantly killed by the suicide plane divers.  I mourn for those that have loved ones who were in those buildings when they collapsed and for those that heard from them during the commotion, especially those that called to say they were ok only to find out moments later their lives would end.

I grieve for the rescue workers who had absolutely no idea of the magnitude of each hit to the point that the buildings would eventually collapse.  How could they know that?  How could they know they were about to take their last steps of heroism only to perish at the same time?

So, I sit here collecting all these thoughts, processing them in such a way to make some sort of sense but it doesn’t.  It probably never will.  This disaster is undoubtedly THE most horrific event I have ever had to witness or live through in my short lifetime.  I remember the TWA hijacking in the late 70’s.  I remember the Iran hostage crisis and when, not long after that, an attempt was made on the life of our then President, Ronald Reagan.

I remember where I was when Space Shuttle Challenger exploded just minutes after lift off on January 28, 1986.  It was my junior year of high school and I was sitting in computer class learning the BASIC computer language when an announcement came over the intercom informing everyone that disaster had taken place.  I remember feeling shocked and sad and sharing that with my classmates.

I remember the bombing of Pan Am flight 101 over Lockerbie, Scotland and the impact it had on Syracuse University and the nation.  I visited the memorial that was erected on the campus of Syracuse University.  I saw those names etched in granite and I grieved then, too.

I remember the Gulf War, the war that most American’s thought we should have had nothing to do with only to realize in years to come how much of an impact our involvement would be.  Granted we were not in it alone; we had allies.  Still, who knew that 10 years later we would still be dealing with the after effects of being involved in that conflict?

I remember being glued to the television watching OJ Simpson speed down the Los Angeles freeway trying to elude police and maybe even contemplating suicide in the process.  Who can forget where they were the day the verdict was read on national television from the subsequent trial, the “Trial Of The Century” as it was so called?

I remember hearing the news of events unraveling at David Koresh’s compound in Waco, Texas where the US Division of Tobacco and Firearms did everything they could to “rescue” those thought to have been brainwashed by Koresh before the compound was ultimately destroyed by fire.

I remember where I was when the worst terrorist attack in US history (until now) took place when a bomb tore through the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the anniversary of the Waco incident only one year before.  It was a strategically thought out plan laid out by a vicious militant (American, no less) simply because he didn’t like how the country was governed.  I remember being glued again to the TV as I watched the aftermath and rescue efforts then.

I remember where I was when the news came over the wire detailing that Princess Diana of Wales (UK), was in a terrible car accident and would never again grace the cover of a magazine with her smile.  Ironically, it was because of that very smile that she died after being chased by paparazzi at amazing speeds through the streets of Paris, France.

More recently, I remember where I was when news came about two gunmen inside Columbine High School just outside Denver, Colorado who were randomly murdering fellow students and a teacher.  Their influence – video games and Hollywood movies glamorizing violence.  At the time I was a teacher in a public school in Florida.  Needless to say, I left the teaching profession only two years later.

Even more recently, I remember where I was when JFK, Jr., his wife, and sister-in-law perished when the plane he was piloting crashed just off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts in the summer of 1999.  My husband, Mike, and I were celebrating our first wedding anniversary and it felt weird to be celebrating ours when John Jr. and his wife hadn’t made it to theirs.

I have lived through the worst Tornadoes to hit central Florida in February of 1998 and the summer of the great fires that same year.  I donated clothes and canned goods to help victims of both tragedies.  Today I registered to donate blood, even waiting five hours before finally going home because they hadn’t called my number yet.  I will get to donate, though.  I can go back tomorrow or the next day or even next week.  I will do my part to help the victims of yesterday’s events.  I will even go to church this evening to worship and pray.  Hopefully, I will be able to get some sort of peace and comfort through my efforts even though I know that this may just be the beginning of something more dreadful to come.

I am scared. I am scared that war will be declared among many nations.  Some will help defend us while others will be on the offensive.  I worry that our military isn’t as up to par as the government claims.  I worry what war could do to the economy.  Most of all, I worry what my reaction will be as each day passes.  I have a strong faith.  I know that there is a higher power out there, that God has a plan for each of us.  I have to believe in that.  I have to believe that because there is a plan for me, I will be taken care of.  I am ready to die if it’s my time, although I do not want to.  I hope that I don’t.  I hope that those I love are safe, too.

What do I do now?  All I can do is continue to pray, to live my life to it’s fullest, and to keep myself informed so that I am not taken off guard if something were to happen in retaliation of this event.  I know that I have a wonderful support system of family and friends to help me.  I just have to remember that and keep thinking positive.  I don’t know what my future will hold but I do know I am looking forward to it.  The devil won’t beat me down because I know that I am stronger than that and it is that strength that will keep me going.

On September 11, 2009, I also wrote a post reflecting on the anniversary of this day in case you’re interested in reading that as well.

No, we…I…will NEVER forget.

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