Life lessons by dawn#039;s early light

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 13, 2003

For two years I've avoided writing anything about Sept. 11. It seemed too fresh, too new.

However, I feel I have to write about is now.

A new beginning here demands I address this and move on.

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I don't remember what life was like before 9-11.

I remember going about my merry way, not really caring about what happened to my fellow man or me.

Yes, I remember my day-to-day life, but I don't remember LIFE.

I wish I could remember how it felt to step on an airplane without taking a quick mental note of other passengers.

I remember watching news accounts on Sept. 11 and watching as one of the World Trade Center towers burned.

Then the television cameras brought on a new horror as the second plane flew into view and slammed into the other tower.

No need to rehash.

Then Washington was hit and a fourth plane was missing.

As always, my first thoughts were with my family. I wanted to hug my niece and nephews.

I wanted them to feel safe.

I thought about those people dying in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

I wondered about their families and I said a silent prayer.

That day remains a blur.

Between the networks' coverage and the constant alert of the Associate Press wire, my hours were filled with new stories about heroism, terrorist cowardice, sacrifice and devastation.

Fourteen hours after I arrived at the newspaper office, I went home.

I remember walking in and sitting in my darkened living room with the TV on.

I watched the scenes over and over.

Around 3 a.m. the tears flowed.

About 5 a.m. I pulled out my American flag and dusted it off.

I had forgotten to fly it that Independence Day.

Now it demanded to be flown.

Out on my front stoop I unfurled it and let Old Glory wave.

I looked around at my neighbors' homes and noticed other flags.

I nodded to my neighbor sitting on her deck.

As I stood in the morning cool, I glanced at the sky.

My neighbor walked up and caught me looking up.

"Yesterday gives a whole new meaning to By dawn's early light,' doesn't it?" she asked.

Quietly, I nodded yes.

Now, two years later, we have chased terrorists across Afghanistan and routed Saddam Hussein from power.

Did it bring back those who died on Sept. 11?


Was it justified?

I think so.

Two years later and I'm home again.

I'm in a position where if I want to hug my family members I can do so within a matter of minutes.

That matters to me.

While we learned that we are not as safe as we thought, we did learn that life goes on.

Hope endures and that on a chilly September morning, Old Glory does still indeed wave by dawn's early light.

Jay Thomas is managing editor for The Greenville Advocate.

He can be reached at 382-3111, ext. 136 or by email at