Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Ago: 9-11-01

Many things happen that shape our lives, for better or worse. Also, years stand out like stars against the night sky. My senior year in high school, my first year of college, and my first year of marriage come back to me like taking a book off of a shelf and opening a page.


Harvest was done and dad was recovering from surgery. I was bound a determined to do the fall work by myself. I wanted to prove to him and I that I was worthy of   being a farmer.

I woke up early on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 to get out to the field. I needed to change the fuel filter on the Challenger 65E. I had been mowing stubble in order to chisel plow later. I got out to the field around 5-5:30 in the morning and got the job done. Since it was protocol for me to have coffee with my parents between 6-6:30, I drove to the farm to let them know what I was doing.

I walked in through the porch door and sat on one of the four steps that lead to the kitchen area. Mom and dad were in their usual places watching TV. I took a quick glance over at it and commenced telling them what I had been doing and what my plans were for the day.

I glanced over again at the TV and asked which movie was on. Their reply was the start of a new life chapter for me and all Americans. Dad’s reply was “It’s not a movie it’s the news. A plane flew into the World Trade Center a little bit ago.”

I got up, grabbed a cup of coffee (I was planning to head right back out to the field), and sat at the table. We talked for awhile and then I saw the other plane fly into the second tower.

I could not believe it…two planes. I had no idea why things were happening. In my safe and remote corner of the world I would not have thought of terrorists. That report came later. I stayed and heard about another plane crashing into the Pentagon and watched people jumping from the buildings. I also saw both towers crash to the ground. The worst was over and I had work to do, but more memories would be put into place later.

As I was mowing stubble and listening to talk radio covering the tragedy I heard about flight 93 crashing into a Pennsylvania field. My thoughts were “What is going on”? I was stunned.

The day was almost surreal. There are things that we take for granted every day like the grass being green, flowers blooming, and crops growing. We register that they are there, but we do not really see them. We don’t give them hardly a thought at all. The same goes for contrails.

Being a farmer means, I work outside and look at the sky. I look for rain clouds, I look to see sunrises and sunsets, and I see it when I look at the horizon of the area I live in. Sometimes I even watch as planes fly from Seattle, Denver, and Salt Lake City to places across America leaving contrails. But this day there weren’t any.

Having no planes and especially no contrails was definitely the scariest part of the day for me. They are always there. It was a sixth sense like sensation of someone staring at you and you can feel it. No contrails in a cloudless sky. That lasted all week.

On Friday night I saw my first plane…a military fighter. My little brother was in high school and we had a home football game. We had a moment of silence and then the Star Spangled Banner was playing. While it was playing this U.S. military plane flies over. I got goose bumps and tears in my eyes. I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life.

As a farmer I also have time to think about things, especially on a tractor. I watched specials on TV and read things in the newspaper that asked “Where were you when Kennedy was assassinated” or “Where were you when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor”? I would think, “why run articles or TV time on things like that”, now I know. They are life changers.

Looking back through my life I have had other moments like that, the biggest being the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980. We were working in the garden hoeing weeds and we heard the boom. Later in the day this thick cloud dropped ash all over. The dogs went berserk and we had to wear dust masks. Harvest was a mess, but the wild apples were the largest ever and I helped my grandfather pick them.

Another moment was the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. We were watching the launch in 1986 in accounting class and saw it explode. Events like these slow time down and are etched forever in your memory.

2001 was a big year, a major life event. Because of dad having surgery I ran the farm, did harvest and all the fall work. We bought some farm ground that year and a brand new combine. I became a member of the Nez Perce County Grain Producers and started the first of at least 10 years on the Idaho Grain Producers Association full board. I also watched my father pass away on December 1st during the first snow of the year. 2001 is definitely etched in my mind.

In that ten years worth of time I have grown as a person and it is due to the events of 2001. I will be traveling on a Fellowship to South America to learn not only about precision agriculture, but other countries as well. I look to make new friends and to open my mind to a new way of thinking.

But things have changed in America. The pride and can do attitude that was brought about by this horrific act is not there. The media will not show people jumping out of the towers, which is something that should be shown lest we forget. We need to remember or history will repeat itself.

Politicians and those in the media bicker about little things instead of doing what is right. We all have jobs to do, just like the police and fire fighters at ground zero. They didn't bicker in a time of tragedy, they got the job done. The American people got the job done. And right now our country is in danger. Not from terrorists, but from within.

We need to do the same thing now. Get the job done of getting our country back on the path of prosperity and out of debt. Since today is a day of rememberence, the best way we can honor those that suffered or are still suffering is to get the job done.

2001 was definitely a life changer and eye opener. And 10 years later in 2011 I believe I will be experiencing another one. God Bless and God Bless America!