Date Submitted: 11/1/2015
It was a typical September morning in Pittsburgh and I was playing a round of golf at Schenley Park Golf Course, which from any view on the course I could see my work place, the Cathedral of Learning on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. I was just about finishing my round and I got a phone call from my wife saying something terrible has happened and that a plane had wrecked into one of the World Trade Center towers. My first thoughts were that a small aircraft probably got too close and couldnâ€™t avoid hitting the tower. My wife then said something about terrorist and she has was so worried about me and my safety and she begged me to go home and to get out of the open where a plane could possibly hit me. I began to panic and I remember saying to myself that I have to get home and be safe, and to get out of harms way.
It was my late night to work at the College of General Studies at Pitt so I went home to shower and listened to the new reports coming in about the tragedy that was unfolding before the American public on TV. When I saw the first images of the jet liner hitting the first tower I got so scared and wondered what the hell was going on, and is this really happening. As reports continued that other commercial aircraft were being hijacked, and in route to unknown destinations, I became paralyzed with fear. My wife worked in a tall building in downtown Pittsburgh and rumors were flying around that a jet liner was headed for Pittsburgh with a possible target being the US Steel Tower in downtown Pittsburgh, only a few blocks from where my wife worked. I freaked!
I lived only a couple of blocks from the Cathedral of Learning and as I started my walk to work I looked up at the sky and saw nothing and heard nothing. How silent the skies were and it seemed so surreal that nothing was in the air and no aircraft where to be seen or heardâ€¦silent skies! I kept thinking how eerie not to hear or see any jets, helicopters, or piper cubs flying overhead. Pittsburgh International Airport is only 30 minutes from downtown, and the Allegheny County Airport was only 15 minutes from downtown, and to not see or hear any air traffic was unsettling.
When I arrived at work my colleagues where besides themselves and at that time everyone was still so unsure about what was really going on as the new reports continued to roll in over the TV airways. Eventually the University closed and everyone began to make their way home. To this day I still can remember walking back home at about 2:30 p.m., and by this time the depth and breadth of the terrorist attacks had been disclosed to the American public, how silent the skies where and how silent and heavy my heart had grown as I processed the loss of human life that was being reported. Today, as commercial and private aircraft fly overhead, I look up and remember that day and think about the silent skies.
As America confronts these tragic circumstances, it is imperative that the situation is not compounded by expressions of religious or ethnic intolerance. The greatness of our nation rests on the exceptional diversity of religions, nationalities, and ethnic backgrounds which characterize its people.
Statement of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights