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I wrote this a couple days after this year's September 11th Memorial and I was given an assignment to walk in someone's shoes. I decided to go back three years in time and create a family who's husband and father was killed in the most horrific event ever since Pearl Harbor.
I hope by writing this I do not offend anyone, because that is my last intention.
I had a hard time choosing whose shoes I wanted to walk in, because there were a lot of different scenarios going through my mind that I thought may be found inappropriate to some people in the class, however, if this is to be shared, I apologize to anyone in advance if they are offended by my writing. This will be written as I find the assignment, more like an essay and a short story combined. If this is not what the assignment is meant to be, I apologize; I misunderstood the directions. Please consider why I decided to pick what I did. Once again, I apologize for anything that you may find appropriate.
Walk a Mile in My Shoes
I have gotten my inspiration from the weekend’s memorial of those whose lives were taken from them three years ago on the most devastating day in American history, September 11, 2001. As I watched the names of each and every person who had lost their lives and the crying family members, I have chosen to walk a mile in the shoes of a family member who was directly affected by the tragic event. Very different from myself my day at school from when my sixth grade teacher revealed what had happened, I could not imagine the pain that the many families were experiencing then and still do today. Please note that I do not mean to offend anyone, which includes a person, group of people, or anyone’s beliefs or opinions on and about September 11th.
Since I have chosen to relive the day that won’t be forgotten for generations to come, I have decided to create a character, a possible person, and go through the day of September 11th in their shoes. I will begin with an average day as one spouse says goodbye to the other for the day. Then, I create a possible reaction, which is impossible, to the events of the day. It will become as realistic as I can make it out to be, however, this is nothing that I have ever experienced before. I will be using the first person point of view.
September 11, 2001 – The Day That Won’t Be Forgotten
I woke up to the sound of my husband early in the morning as he gathered what he needed for work, as he has always done for the past fifteen years. I was tired and my husband obviously noticed. Rubbing my eyes, I pulled myself together to kiss him goodbye. I stood and wrapped my arms around his neck, clasping my hands together. He bent down and kissed me and said something to the effect that he would be home early tonight. I smiled. “I love you!”
“I love you, too,” he replies.
I walked him to the door and stood there as he made his way over to the blue minivan sitting in the driveway. The sky was still dark and the air crisp, almost chilly. He got into his car and buckled his seat belt. He started the car and then looked blew me a kiss. Watching him drive down the street, I didn’t know that would be the last time I would ever see him again. I shut the door, closing the door to my husband, who is now in Heaven, may his soul rest in piece.
I looked at the old grandfather clock, which read twenty to six. It was time to get my teenagers up for another day of school and get them on their way. I walked quietly passing my toddlers room, not wanting to wake him just yet. It was far too early for him to wake up. Walking through the maze which consisted of my house, often considered a mansion to my friends and family, I climbed the stairs to my son’s room to wake him up. When I wrapped my hand around the door, I was taken aback as my son opened the door on the other side. I stumbled, stupefied on how much force he had used and collected myself.
“Hey,” my son said. He was in his flannel pajamas, a towel and his clothes for the day flung over his left arm. “Morning,” he said.
“Morning,” I replied. “Your father just left for work. He said that he’ll be home early and I was wondering where you would like to out to eat for your father’s birthday.” I was the type of wife who liked to plan surprises on my husband whenever I could. I told him that we would have dinner with the family, but I decided that I wanted to surprise him.
“Wherever,” James said. He was a simple kid who spoke few words. I liked that in him. He wasn’t annoying his brothers and sisters like my other two children were. He usually was at school for most of his day and locked himself in his room when he was working on homework. Stupid school, thank God this was his senior year in high school.
Now, waking up my daughter was much more of a hassle. I would normally have to find something to open the lock to her room, but today was much different than any other day. The door was open and she was sitting on her bed to what seemed as if she was meditating. I shook my head, smiling, and told her breakfast would be done in a half an hour.
That half an hour passed pretty quickly and both of my teens were helping me with breakfast. I took out the silverware and placed it on the table as my daughter was making her “fat-free” breakfast. My son on the other hand had taken over with the cooking for him and I. When I was through with placing the silverware on the table, I watched my son and daughter bring the food to the table. The three of us had a wonderful breakfast. Usually, breakfast, unless we went out for dinner, was the only time that any of us spent quality family time together.
“So we’re going out to dinner tonight to celebrate your father’s birthday, and I was wondering where we should go?”
“Why don’t we go to Dad’s favorite restaurant?” Elena had said. “I mean, he has a huge menu to choose from and he always complains that he wants to go back, and like, when was the last time we had gone to his favorite restaurant?”
It was decided. I would make reservations for Dan’s favorite restaurant.
Then, it was seven o’clock and James and Elena got hopped on the bus for another day of high school.
Another hour passed and I made my way into my son’s bedroom. He was in pre-kindergarten and had to get out of the house for the nine thirty school opening. I fed him breakfast as I usually did. He was so funny to talk to today. He was telling me about the dream he had last night. It was about dinosaurs and the movie that he had watched last night.
Then it happened.
I was helping my son pull the shirt over his head since he was having trouble, when I decided to make the reservations for Outback Steakhouse. When he was situated with everything, I turned on the TV and changed the channel to his favorite show.
After I watched the show for a minute or two with him, I made my way to the telephone book to find the number. And when I did so, I picked up the phone and started to dial, when I heard my mother’s voice.
“Liz! Oh my God! Turn on the TV! Jesus Christ,” my frantic mother yelled through the telephone. “Go to CBS! QUICK!”
“What’s happening, mom?”
“Oh my God! Turn on the TV! Hurry!”
I made my way into the family room and changed the channel to CBS, like my mother had told me and I couldn’t believe it. “Holy-“
“It just happened suddenly, at eight forty six today, two airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center.” My eyes widened in absolute horror. That was where Dan worked!
“That’s where daddy works,” my four year old son said. He watched the screen pointing at the smoke. I changed the channel immediately, not wanting to expose my son to the horror. My mother was still on the phone and yelled, “Get over here now! Please!”
My mother arrived in less than five minutes and as she walked in the door, I walked out, driving to my children’s school. I jumped out of my car and ran into the school and got my children out. They were asking questions about why they were taken out of school.
“There has been a terrorist attack on the United States at the World Trade Center! I don’t know whether or not your father has gotten out, oh my God!” I started to cry when my daughter burst into tears. My son was looking out the window, obviously fighting the tears.
“Why is this happening? Who could’ve done this?”
“I don’t know, Elena, I don’t know! All that I know is that you’re father is at the World Trade Center and God only knows if he’s still alive.”
We drove home, arguing back and forth whether or not to go into the city to look for him. I said, no, I screamed at them in frustration. We arrived home and my son and daughter took my son into a room and kept him company. He was clueless and they knew how to handle the situation more than I did. I sat on the sofa and my mother came around the corner and was on the phone. “Is there a name of a Dan Walls? No, thank you.” She hung up and went back to the phone book and dialed another hospital’s number.
This happened for the next five hours. And the next five hours turned into nightfall. I was in hysteria at the entire situation and I took my kids in my arms when I told them that Daddy may not be coming home. Every day we called the hospitals located in the New York area, my son the only one trying to find telephone numbers of surrounding states’ hospitals. It was no use.
A month later, we were told that they had found a piece of his DNA and that he is no longer with us. We mourned for the next couple of months, and today, September 11, 2004, we go to the September 11th Memorial that’s held every year and wait to hear his named called. The last time I said anything to him was three years ago and the last thing I said was, “I love you.”
Although I did not experience the grief and agony that any of the victims’ families have, there are times in my life that I have felt this terrible about the world and society in general. When I learned about the events in sixth grade from Mrs. Davison, I knew that something had to have been wrong with the world. I tried to have an open mind about the situation but I couldn’t find a way to do that. There was no way for me to keep an open mind about terrorists that are hiding in a foreign country, most likely plotting more attacks the United States will be unaware of.
I think that this will affect my future behavior on anything terrible such as this, because I thought the world would end, but in the lives of the victims’ families, their world came to a sudden stop to realize what had happened. I know that I would not have been able to control myself mentally and emotionally if my family had been in the World Trade Center when this had happened. From now on, I will try so hard to keep an open mind to everything that comes along in the world, no matter how much I think it isn’t possible.
God bless America.