Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eye to the Sky

Today is September 11th, and like the same date, in 2001, it is a beautiful, warm, sunny, clear day.

A perfect fall day.

Is it just me, or ever since September 11, 2001, are all September 11ths super nice and pretty days? Maybe it's just me.

We all have a story of where we were on that day. I was teaching, and after my student (Ethan Johnson) came to my desk to tell me a plane had hit a building in New York City, that day became a blur, but a very clear blur still. I can remember wheeling a TV into my classroom, knowing that we were witnessing history, and our lessons could wait, as even 6th graders needed to experience and try to wrap their heads around this awful tragedy.  I remember clearly our principal coming over the PA system, explaining that all extra curricular activities were cancelled that day, but that our government was still in tact, we were safe, and would continue to press on as a strong nation.

It was perfectly clear that day. I was training for a marathon, and needed to get a run in that afternoon, but I was scared. Living in the Midwest, we were pretty sure we were safe, but who knew that day?

I skipped my run.

I wasn't even dating Joe at the time, and I am taking the liberty of telling his dad's story...or at least a piece of it, but Rick, my father-in-law, knew that day something was up. The way Joe tells his dad's story is indicative of who Rick is as a person, a farmer, a man of the land, if you will. He's a  noticer. He's one of those guys who pays attention to the details around him. Maybe it's just in his personality, or maybe it's because his work commute is the same, quiet mile and a half drive he's done for 20 some years, but he is aware of the natural surroundings. He's aware of the sights and sounds of the fields and hills and pastures around him, and on that day, he noticed the lack of plane traffic in the air.

Joe recounts that although my in-laws don't live super close to any large airport, the flight pattern of the different airports in the area do create flight traffic on a regular basis. Rick's hog buildings are on a very quiet, lightly trafficked road, so plane noise is noticeable.

That day, however, it wasn't, and Rick noticed.

Isn't that amazing?

To me, at first, when I heard that recount of September 11, 2001, I was amazed, baffled, and felt like I don't notice anything in that great detail.

But, now that I know Rick well, and also have been around farmers, they are noticers. They are so aware of their surroundings. Farmers are creatures of habit, and when something is off, they notice, whether it's weather, animal, crop, or, in this case, plane traffic related.

It's amazing.

Although a sad, scary, and memorable day in our history, all of our memories are clear of where we were that day, what we wore, where we were standing, etc. For farmers like Rick and those folks whose livelihoods depend on looking constantly skyward, my belief is their memory is as clear as that blue sky that day. Through memories and stories from these folks, we will never forget those who were affected that day.


  1. Thanks for sharing your memories and also your father in law's eye to the sky. We'll never forget.

  2. So true. No jet trails that day. Just quiet. Thank you for reminding me.

  3. That is why his kids could never get away with anything. Rick (and Karma) always had their radar up.