Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 ~ Never Forget

9/11 ~ Never Forget
       Where were you on 9/11/01? I know that is something I will never forget. Just like young kids asked their parents and grandparents, “Where were you when JFK or MLK was killed.” years from now that question will still be asked. Our children’s children will ask them the same question. So where was I on 9/11? I was at my bothers house in Orange County, California about ten minutes from Disneyland.
       We have and had annual passes to Disneyland. For some reason we decided not to go away on our usual camping vacation that year. Instead we decided to go to Disneyland for a week of fun. We live about an hour drive from Disneyland. To save money we stayed at my brother’s house for our week of fun. We had about three days left on our vacation and decided to sleep in some that day.
We were woken by my brother knocking on our bedroom door. He called us into his den to see the news on the TV. We watched over and over as they showed the first plane hit the tower. Then we watched in horror as the second plane hit the second tower.
Shortly after the second plane hit my husband’s cell phone rang. My husband is part of the disaster response team at the hospital he works at. He had been called back to work. We jumped in the car and headed home our vacation cut short. The freeway was empty and many emergency vehicles were moving around. Police cars were stationed at several key points on the freeway and some exits were closed off. We listened to the radio as we drove. We wept as more reports came in and the third and fourth planes hit the ground.
Rumors had always circulated for years in the disaster preparedness community that Disney Parks are high on the terrorists target list. In fact some rumors place it in the top ten. It makes sense because the idea of terrorism is to make people afraid. Destroying a family friendly place and an icon of American tradition at the same time would forever damage the culture as nothing else could. It would bring fear to all levels of our culture. People would not feel safe anywhere.
Disneyland did something very unusual for them. They shut their doors. We were not staying at the resort but we heard they opened the AMC movie theater in DownTown Disney and played Disney classics the entire day and let guests of the hotels watch them for free. They had characters at the hotels entertaining the guests that had expected a day of fun in the parks.
File:Mark Twain Riverboat pilothouse.jpg
During that brief closure Disneyland redressed the park. They added Red, White and Blue Bunting that normally was only up on the buildings of Main Street for the 4th of July, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. Even the Mark Twain had flags placed all over it. Out came the patriotic pins and shirts to be sold. I had in fact looked for a patriotic Mickey pin on 9/10 but there were none to be found in the park. The most telling thing done had to do with the flags. Per presidential order all flags were to be flown at half mast. All the flags at Disneyland were lowered; even the civil war era style flag flown in Frontierland was lowered.
We had been to the park the four days before 9/11. We enjoyed our time there. We decided that we would not let the terrorists win by making us afraid. We went back as soon as we possibility could, 9/13. We chose to stand and celebrate the fact that America is great and can get back up when hit. We chose to celebrate the lives lost instead of cower in fear.
I believe Walt Disney would be proud of our countries response and the unity we found in the days following 9/11. I believe he would have been proud of his company and the way they worked to protect their guests and show respect afterwords.

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