On Nov. 7, 2001, CBS broadcast the 35th Annual Country Music Association (CMA) Awards live from the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee. One of the evening's highlights was when host Vince Gill introduced Alan Jackson, who appeared onstage, seated on a stool with his guitar and asked a profound 12-word question: Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day? Today marks the 15th anniversary of the U.S. terrorist attacks so after all these years, I'd like to give my answer.
September 11, 2001 started out as a normal Tuesday morning. My grandfather and I got up with the sun, hopped in his little green Ford Ranger pickup, and headed into town from our farm 7 miles outside of Cisco, going towards Abilene so I could attend my scheduled classes for the day at Cisco Junior College.
We got to town quite a bit early so my grandfather decided to treat me to breakfast at Linda's Corner Cafe in downtown Cisco. As we were eating, our waitress, named Michelle came running out of the kitchen and with a frantic tone, informed everyone that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, we thought nothing of it and went on about our meal.
After a delicious breakfast, it was time for me to get to class so we left and went on towards the college. I had 30 minutes to kill before class so I decided to go into the Student Union Building (known to all students as "The SUB"), where on a normal day, you would enter and see students playing pool or sitting at the tables studying and drinking a Coke as the sounds of MTV blared from the big-screen television but on this particular day, it was total silence as every student, teacher, custodian, etc. was glued to the television, witnessing the tragedy that was unfolding.
A spirit of melancholy hung all over campus like a black cloud, the terrorist attacks were the topic of conversation in every class I attended and the more I heard about this, the more I realized how serious it really was and a feeling of fear came over me and I began thinking to myself "this could've easily happened right here in Cisco, this is scary."
After 9/11, I was skeptical of even getting on a plane, I'd never flown before and now, I wasn't really sure if I even wanted to but one year later, fate stepped in. I was part of a Cisco Junior College music ensemble, who was slated to accompany the school's marching band and drill team, known as the Wrangler Belles to New York City for the 2002 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and yes, we had to fly.
As I stepped onto the plane, that same feeling of fear hit me just as it did the day I heard of the terrorist attacks because I worried about something like that happening again; in fact, it was to the point where one of our adult chaperones had to coax me to my seat. Long story short, the flights to and from went off without a hitch and we made it to New York and back safely.
As part of our tour, we were all given a day of sightseeing as we took in attractions such as Rockefeller Center and Times Square but perhaps the most anticipated stop was Ground Zero. That's right, we actually got to see firsthand where the Twin Towers once stood. It was one thing to hear about 9/11 on the news but to actually be where the terrorist attacks took place was unbelievable.
As we toured the site, we saw workers still cleaning up the rubble from the explosions one year later, we saw memorial walls with trinkets left by surviving family members such as flowers and stuffed animals, an American flag mural hung from one of the walls. We were all speechless, we had no words. I even had a feeling of emptiness as I thought "how could someone do this?"
The days after 9/11 brought about many changes for our country. Musicians released patriotic songs, people relied on each other for comfort and strength but probably the most uplifting thing that I saw was how the bond of brotherhood came out stronger than ever.