Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Day To Remember: Justice For America

As many of my friends and family know, I flew out of NYC on that somber and horrific morning of September 11, 2001. I remember watching the NYC skyline in the early dawn light.  I remember seeing the twin towers standing strong.

I was visiting NYC to see the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Concert with the Jackson Five, Usher, Mya, Deborah Cox, Monica, Liza Minnelli, Missy Elliott, and many more performers.  It was a fabulous concert, one that I think back to and say "I can not believe I was there." I flew out alone to NYC to met my dear friend Katelyn, who came up from Washington, DC.

When I was booking my ticket for my last minute, impromptu, once-in-a-lifetime trip, I was using my father's miles.  He told me to use his United miles and as I was in the process of booking my flight with United flight 93 from Newark Airport to San Francisco leaving Tuesday, September 11, 2001, my father was inspired to tell me to change my ticket and use his Continental miles instead.

I will never forget the moment when my plane landed at the Houston airport, my scheduled layover from NYC to SLC, and I exited the plane.  I remember walking to my gate and noticing several people crowded around the televisions.  As I looked up at the television, I watched a building crumble to the ground and was completely unaware of what was going on.  The speakers at the airport announced that all flights were grounded for the next several hours.  I had no idea of the devastation that was happening to America until I sat down and asked an older gentleman what was happening.  As I watched the TV in horror, I saw my original flight, United 93, crash in a field in Pennsylvania. I immediately turned on my cell phone and called my parents and family who were an emotional wreck unaware if I was alive or on a high-jacked flight.  I will never forget the moment I talked to my brother Aaron who got on the phone and was sobbing at the thought that his little sister could have been killed.

I was stuck in Houston for four days.  I was terrified to get back on a plane to fly home.  When I landed in Salt Lake City, Utah I cried with joy.  It was eerie to exit the plane and not have my father waiting at the gate to pick me up, but instead having to walk out of the secured section to find my father in tears.

My brother says one major reason he joined the Army was because of the attack he felt on his little sister that September 11.  He always would say "That could have been you." Today I am grateful that my brother's service was not in vain, that his service and all military service since 9/11was to protect mine and America's freedom and to help bring justice for that horrific day.  Today I reflect back on this terrifying moment that happened almost ten years ago, and think of the loss and tragedy that so many felt in New York and around the Nation, and THANK YOU men and women of the United States Armed Forces for protecting our rights and freedoms.  Thank you for helping bring justice to that horrible day that killed hundreds of men, women and children. Thank you to my father for telling me to change my ticket to Continental. Thank you to the family who hosted me in Houston.

Today Osama Bin Laden has been killed.  I realize it is not the end to the War on Terror, but maybe the beginning of healing for those that lost loved ones due to 9/11. My heart goes out to those families.  I pray that God will continue to protect our great Nation and that one day we will can live in a world of peace and where celebrating one's death is not a triumph, but a day of mourning.


brooklynn_sutliff said...

Thanks for sharing Leah. It's truly a blessing that you made it home safe after the tragic ordeal. You are an amazing, smart, beautiful woman. You make this world a better place. I'm so proud of your brother (my husband) and his sacrafice and bravery. He's an intelligent soldier and we are so lucky to have him defend our freedom.

Melanie Rossiter said...

Leah I literally just cried at that post. I had no clue you were so close to being on that flight. I am so glad your dad was inspired because then I was able to have the most amazing vocal teacher ever! Hope all is well!!

Amberly said...

leah, I remember feeling peace that you and katelyn were ok, although it was so hard to get through to anyone that day. I'm grateful for your thoughts and for your friendship to Katelyn. I know that is an experience neither of you will every forget. Hope you're doing well, lots of love... Amberly