Remembering 9/11: Ken Shane

Ken Shane of Springfield remembers the bond he felt with all Americans in the aftermath.
I was on a tour of the Canyonlands. The morning of September 11, 2001 found us in a beautiful part of the desert southwest. We were at Lake Powell, on the Arizona – Utah border. I was sharing a hotel room with my cousin. Apparently we’d fallen asleep with the television on. Around 6 a.m. local time, I heard my cousin say, “Ken, you should wake up. The World Trade Center’s on fire.” I opened my eyes and began to watch the grim scene unfold. A few minutes later, I was wide awake when the second plane hit the South Tower.

We stayed glued to the television for much of the day, despite our tour guide’s efforts to keep the sightseeing on schedule. Airplane tours of Monument Valley were cancelled, because the local airport in Page, Az. was closed, just like all other airports across the country. The next morning our rafting trip down the Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam was cancelled when the dam was locked down.

From the moment it became clear to me that we had been attacked, that moment when the second plane hit, I wanted nothing more than to be right back home as quickly as possible. My friends were under attack, my neighborhood. I knew where I belonged, and I was frustrated that there was no way to get back.

A few days later the tour ended in Las Vegas. Hotel occupancy in the normally bustling city was under fifty percent. Flights were still cancelled, including my flight home. I wasn’t willing to wait. I rented a car, and drove across the country in four days. It was an interesting time to make that drive. Driving over the Rockies, and across the plains, I never felt so American. I never felt such a bond with the people of my country. There was so much goodwill from the world. So much unity in the country. It’s terribly sad that it’s all be squandered.

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