911 remembered

This is the 15th anniversary of the 911 attack. Everyone over the age of twenty-five probably remembers where they were and what they were doing when planes struck the Twin Towers and other targets. I’m no exception.

Lenny and I almost missed the significance of the 911 tragedy until days after it happened. However we weren’t in the woods or on the trail. We were in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a few days. We drove for eight hours from Asheville and arrived on the Monday, September 10, 2001. We settled in a nice Bed and Breakfast.

The next morning, we went into the Wright Brothers National Monument bright and early, as is our practice. After all, the Wright Brothers were in Kitty Hawk, on the North Carolina coast. This was way before I conceived of the project of visiting all the national parks of the South and writing a book which became Forests, Alligators, Battlefields. It was before I had a digital camera, so the picture above is from a few years later when I went back.

We walked around the large expanse of land in the national monument.  A maintenance man in a large truck-like riding mower had a radio inside. He stopped and said to us “They’ve hit the World Trade Center”. He said in such a low voice with such a strong Southern accent that I really didn’t understand what he was saying. And who was this “they?”

So we continued to visit the monument.

The Outer Banks
The Outer Banks

When we got back to our B&B, there wasn’t any talk of what had happened in New York City. The owners were focused on showing their guests a good time away from their everyday lives. And so we enjoyed the area for two more days.

It was only when we got back on the road a few days later that we noticed flags at half-mast and signs that proclaimed patriotism. We then realized that something big and disastrous had happened.

We turned on the radio in the car and listened and listened all the way home. We never sat in front of the TV watching the Twin Towers fall over and over again but we caught up on what had happened while we were walking the beach and the national monuments in the Outer Banks.

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