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Me and Francis Scott Key

September 11, 2012

It was September 11, 2001.

I had just arrived at the school and dropped and Drew off at Day Care and as I walked in to the Teacher’s Lounge, someone said to me “Did you hear?” I was preoccupied checking my mail box and messages and I remember without even glancing up, I said “hear what?”….

“Either a missile or a plane has just hit the World Trade Center, they’re not sure what it was exactly”…. I looked up in sudden shock.

My first thoughts were….oh my God, I hope it was a plane.

Here’s why:

Then that meant it was accident in my mind.  There’s no way someone could get into our airspace and just fly into one of the most famous buildings in the world.

But if it were a missile…. Jesus, please no……  I shuddered to even think it….

I immediately began to pray for the victims….

then someone walked in to the lounge and said, it has been confirmed.  It WAS an airplane.

Whew….we were not being attacked, I thought.  Tragic accident, though.  Lord, please touch those famililies affected…

and as I was walking to class and still reeling from that information someone came by and said “it was a major airliner”

Oh, man.  My heart sunk.  At that point,  I was thinking, wow, something is wrong.

I got to my classroom and was in the middle of devotion and had just requested prayer for the victims when a student knocked on my classroom door.  “Ms. Jill, they just announced on the radio that another plane has hit the World Trade Centers”…

I was standing up in front of my 8th grade class.  We were just about to pray anyways for the end of our devotion so I quickly said “bow your heads”….

I remember it taking me a minute to get my composure and organize my thoughts.  We prayed. I remember not wanting the prayer to end, because I didn’t want to face questions from the students.

“amen”…..I looked up to see a room full of 13 year olds staring at me with these helpless looks….

“Ms. Jill, are we gonna die?”  was the first thing I heard…..

My heart sank. I wanted to bolt from the room and see what was going on….

I didn’t have internet in my classroom at that time and no t.v….

All I could think was.  Oh my God. I am in Houston, the 4th largest city in the U.S.  We were surrounded by potential targets.

My husband was working in one.

The teacher next door to me came over and said, “I have a radio if you want to bring your kids over…..we can all listen….”

So we did.  I remember listening to the radio and she said “who do you think is responsible?”

I could only think of one person.  Osama Bin Laden.

“Who is he?” one of the kids asked…..

So we had a little history lesson….despite us not having class at that moment.

That was one of the LONGEST days of my life….

I could not wait to get home and get online and check the news on T.V.

I remember thinking, God protect us….. please….

I had a 22 month old….and protecting him was my utmost priority

Our bedroom window had the best view….I could look out of it and see so far….and I kept watching the skies and toward the Houston Ship Channel and power plants…..I was looking for smoke….anything….to warn me to get out of there.

But the skies were eerily quiet….no airplanes….and that was odd….considering there were ALWAYS planes in the sky at our house….

I kept checking the window.

I remember watching the news that night….all night….both my hubby and I were wide awake….planning what we would do if we were attacked….

I finally fell asleep sometime in the early morning….and when I woke up and remembered, my heart started racing again…. my hubby had already left for work and he had turned the T.V. off …..I jumped up….aggravated that he had done that…I needed to know…were we safe???….and I went to our bedroom window, opened the blinds and out in the distance I saw a plane…

and at first I panicked, but only for a few seconds because I realized it was a fighter jet….one of ours….and then another…..and another…..and another…..they were patroling the airwaves….protecting us……and chills went all through me and I immediately thought of Francis Scott Key….

Remember the guy who wrote the Star Spangled Banner?  Yea, him.

I now think I have a little glimpse into the overwhelming pride and relief he must have felt when he saw that flag waving after a long night’s battle at Fort McHenry.

It was during the War of 1812 and the enemy had attacked and burned the Capitol and the White House at that point.  Would we, could we,  still stand?

Or….would the enemy prevail in yet another U.S. city?

Mr. Francis Scott Key had been captured by the British and all night long listened to the fighting and guns and cannons in a distance….. before the battle began, there was a huge American flag hoisted where the battle was to take place…and he and the other American captives had been able to see it before the fighting got underway that night…..

but would they see the flag still standing the next morning?

I can imagine his anxiety…and when the dust settled and eerie quiet fell over the land….he looked for it….or some sign the U.S. had prevailed…

O, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming

it was there last night….would be there today?

And then he sees a flag….but whose?  Is it a British Flag… American Flag?  He couldn’t tell at first….all the smoke…and a rainy mist was obstructing his view…  WHICH ONE IS IT?

The next line of the song tells the story…

What is that which the breeze o’er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses…?

and I now can imagine his excitement and I understand the words even better now than ever…..

‘Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I knew when I saw those jets just how Mr. Key felt that early September morning when he looked over the horizon and saw that flag…

my flag was in the form of a fighter jet….but it’s what it symbolized….and still does.

Enduring FREEDOM….. Prevailing, no matter what.

that’s when I finally broke down and cried….. and cried…. and cried……

So proud to be an AMERICAN…..

Check out the latest Jillology101 Blog Post   HERE


From → Life, Politics

  1. cindi ewing permalink

    Thank you for filling in some blanks to that day. My baby boy and his classmates of 11 years were there in your classroom with you. I’ve often wondered what you said or did that impressed so many of them to become Marines. Was it the prayer? Your history lesson? Whatever it was, I thank you for ministering to our young students that day.
    I too was looking for a sign that America would prevail and I heard fighter jets, the only jets for the first few days, circling very high over Houston for a month.
    May God bless you and God bless America.

  2. I believe we all can remember were we were that day and how we felt. Thank you for sharing this with us. God Bless America.

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