This is, of course, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a devastating event in our nation's history - a happening of such consequence that most people can easily remember what they were doing as the awful news began spreading across the country.
I was just beginning work on a PhD in Social Work at the University of Missouri in Columbia, an endeavor that I since abandoned over issues dealing with money, time, and accessibility. In order to get from my hometown in extreme southwest Missouri to attend classes north of the Missouri River in Columbia on a weekly basis, I had to drive the 300 plus miles north each week after work on Mondays, rent a motel room, go to classes on Tuesdays from early morning until late afternoon, and then drive the 300 plus miles back to the southern edge of McDonald County. I only managed to do that one semester before rearranging my priorities - and that semester was exactly ten years ago.
The day of the attacks I was sitting in a class on the 7th floor of Clark Hall. One of my classmates came to class late and said that a plane had flown into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. A few minutes later we learned that the other tower had been hit. At that point all of the classes just seemed to end by some sort of silent consensus. A television was brought into the main hallway and hooked up, and we watched the horror unfold.
I remember that one of the things that could be seen from that seventh story classroom window was a mosque that that been in Columbia for many years - and a tall minaret reaching into the sky. The thing about the view that was really unsettling, however, was the fact that we were up so high and airplanes were being used as weapons.
At noon Dr. Marjorie Sable (who is now the social work department chair at MU) took myself and a few other post-grad students to a pre-planned lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant on Ninth Street in Columbia. The restaurant was called "Osama's." That is another of those things that is now hard to forget!
I called home before leaving Columbia that afternoon, and my boss told me that things were crazy at the gas stations in McDonald County - and that some had run out of gas. "Get gas as quick as you can!" She warned me. I made it as far south as Lake of the Ozarks and then set in line for an hour for just a few gallons.
Later that night I made it safely home to Rock's Roost in the pine covered hills above Noel - thankful for the farm sounds and the cool breezes and a bit of sanity - and not fully cognizant that our national sanity had just suffered a catastrophic blow that would lead us into more than a decade of ultra-expensive and ultimately useless wars.