20 Years

Twenty years ago it was a peaceful Monday. Life was following its careful rhythms. We had just moved to Carbondale from the little village of Elkville in March of 2001. We had purchased our first new home. We had been living in it for almost 6 months. Aaron was attending John A. Logan College and Jonathon was in his senior year of high school. Mom lived with us…she had Alzheimers Disease. She could not be left alone.

I was thinking about the last chapter or my career at SIUC. I planned on retiring either in 2009 or 2010. I had been the superintendent of my department since 1997. During the last 3rd of my time at Southern I wanted to make a difference. MJ had resigned her position at the University to take care of Neva June. The fear of Y2K had been a recent issue and many feared the shut down of modern society due to our computers not working. The Supreme Court had decided that George W. Bush had won the presidential election. Our new President seemed to enjoy going to his ranch in Crawford, Texas…and chopping wood. Chancellor Jo Ann Argersinger had been unjustly terminated in the summer of 1999….and I still was not over it…she was my friend.

Tuesday, September 11 was a beautiful day with the sun shinning in cloudless skies. In those days I watched the Today Show on NBC each morning as I was preparing to go to work. I remember Katie Couric saying that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York. During the next few minutes fear gripped our nation as terrorist flew jets into both towers and the Pentagon…and the brave passengers foiled the hijackers of their plane and it crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Night fell on our country. We did not know who had attacked us…or why…or when the next attack was planned. I watched, as did the nation, the rescue efforts of the first responders and many from every state who travelled to New York to help. As the gruesome days went by…we came to realize that there were no survivors. The band at Buckingham Palace in London…played the Star Spangled Banner. Congress and the Senate met on the Capitol Steps to sing the National Anthem…there was no political party division.

Let us look back 20 years…to chart our future of unity and peace…and not hatred and strife…

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