These next few days are going to be tough ones for a lot of us…and frankly will bring back memories that for many of us are still etched in the back of our minds. It is and will be for my generation our ‘Pearl Harbor’ moment in time. I know for many of you out there December 7th, 1941 will in fact be a day that lives in infamy for the duration of your lives…for those of us too young to have lived through that horror, 9-11 is, and will be our moment.
I am sure you would join me in saying that this was one of those days that you can still remember where you were and what you were doing when things all started to shake out. I was in my classroom and administering the I-Step test to a bunch of students and thus when Alan Jackson’s song ask, “Were you teaching a class full of innocent children”? Well…the line hits me hard each time I hear the song. When our portion of the test was over we turned on my classroom TV and watched in shock and pure horror as within minutes the second plane crashed into the Trade Centers; the impact of this scene brought to life for us here in southern Indiana just how sheltered we are.
The real power of that day and those events still live on today. Not once have I said the pledge that I haven’t thought about our torn flag being raised above the rubble of the twin towers…raised by heroes, firemen and others that risked their lives digging, searching and probably dying a bit, so that we Americans could find loved ones and start to move on. A few days later, when things started to move towards normalcy, we played a volleyball match and while standing in the S. Vermillion gym they played “God Bless The USA” and for those moments I felt small, like maybe we shouldn’t be playing tonight. Many of you may recall just such a moment…but now, 10 years later, I can see what a resilient people we are; a mixture, a composite of folks from all over this planet that have come together to build such a great place to live.
In the ten years since this tragedy I have traveled, fished, hunted and camped in a wide variety of places; from the majesty of Montana and its grandiose peaks to the simplicity of southern Indiana and its streams that trickle along, full of fish waiting to be caught. I have trailed my Shorthairs through golden prairies in Kansas and watched as birds rolled out across long fertile rows of crops; crops that are harvested by men who are as hard working as any, anywhere. I have walked for miles and hours down cold, clear creeks in search of rainbows and browns that sit in pools so gin clear that the reflections from the limestone bluffs of the Ozarks are the only thing that can be seen.
I hope that as my bones start to age and my memory starts to fail…that I will always remember topping a knoll in central Kansas, the middle of no-where in November of 2001; there, blowing in the prairie wind was a giant American flag. It was duck taped to a mailbox. The homestead was a very humble one…in fact it was a sight for sore eyes, 50 miles from any kind of main road, yet here was this gorgeous flag, rippling in the wind and it gave me hope. For behind this flag was two, very large John Deere combines, probably a half million dollars’ worth of machinery ready to roll out and harvest the acres and acres of milo still sitting in the fields…and I knew that we (America) would be alright, we would get back up and not only avenge the losses but make our country stronger through perseverance and hard work.
As we move into fall and nature starts to blend its pallet of colors…take a look around, find time to enjoy what we have and how lucky we are. Take a walk in the nip of the morning, grab your pole and wet a line, take a kid hunting or just listen to the crack of a campfire and Enjoy the Great Outdoors.