There’s a lot of stories that have been told about September 11, 2001, that fateful day when two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, another into the Pentagon in our capital, and the last, Flight 93, went down in a field in Shanksville, Pa. There’s stories from firefighters, national guardsmen, victim’s families and even people who survived these viscous attacks. I’m none of those, but I have a story of my own; one that I’ve never talked about or told because it still bears an emotional scar on my heart. Being the twelve year anniversary of that day, I decided now was the time to share my own personal story. Though not as heartbreaking or terrorizing as the other stories you will hear, that day forever changed my life, though I was not present for any of the attacks.
Though I never reveal my area of residence on this blog, for this very special post I am willing to go out on a limb and do so to tell a bigger story. I live in a small town in Pennsylvania, about forty miles from Shanksville, the crash site of Flight 93. This town is a place where you never expect terrorism to hide or even find. We’re pretty far off the map, and it’s quiet in these parts. The most excitement we have is when our neighbors’ horses breach the fence and end up in our yard. September 11th had different plans.
The morning of September 11th, I received a call from my mom telling me that there had been terrorist attacks in New York City, and my aunt, who lived a few miles down the road, was coming to get me so we could be together. Also, we were under a State of Emergency, though the news was refusing to announce why. I hadn’t turned on the television that morning and had no idea anything was going on, but when my aunt came over, my fourteen year old self got in her car without question, still confused and not entirely sure of what was going on.
Once at her house, we planted ourselves firmly in front of the television, watching the aftermath of the attacks of the Twin Towers and the news of the crash at the Pentagon as it unraveled. We were still hoping someone would tell us why we were under a State of Emergency, but no one ever said, however, it quickly came to the point where everyone was forbidden to leave the place where they were in our particular county only, Westmoreland County. No traffic. No movement. At this time, the internet was not a number one source for news and we did not have cell phones or even access to the net where we lived, so it was never a thought to check online for the news we wanted.
We hadn’t been watching the coverage for quite an hour when we heard what sounded like a very low flying plane. We live in a military flyover zone, so we shrugged it off, figuring they were deploying out to D.C. or New York City. Minutes later, we hard an incredibly loud exploding sound, which was accompanied by the ground shaking violently. Seconds later, the sky became pitched black, as if it were nighttime, and the smell of burning flesh and what smelled vaguely like kerosene filled the air. A mechanical sound could be heard, like a glitch in some sort of equipment, and it would vibrate the ground every few minutes as it came and went. We kept asking each other what it was or if the other had heard it, and even though we both had, neither of us had an answer.
It was at this point that we knew something was terribly wrong, but none of the news channels were reporting any other attacks. Not more than twenty minutes before this had happened, it had been reported that a fourth plane had been hijacked and was believed to be headed for D.C. via the calls air traffic control was receiving from passengers on that plane, so all we could figure was that the plane had found its target and for some reason, even from four hours away, we were feeling and smelling the effects of it. As we went outside to take a look at the sky, we didn’t know how close to the truth we really were.
Unable to stay outside for more than a few minutes because of the smell, which later permeated the whole house even with the windows and doors closed, we glued ourselves back to the television. It was about an hour later when the news of Flight 93 came in. The words coming out of the newscaster’s mouth hit both of us like bricks upon the realization that what we had heard had not been a military plane, but Flight 93 flying low overhead, heading for its final destination in a desolated field in Shanksville. What we felt shake the ground and what we were now smelling was the bodies of those brave souls who overtook the plane to stop another attack burning in the wreckage, and the fuel from the plane keeping the fire going. The darkness in the sky was from the smoke from the burning fuselage. We also learned the real reason for the harsh county wide State of Emergency that had suddenly gone into effect, stopping anyone from leaving the places they were. At first the whole state was simply under it as a wildfire guess of caution due to our state being between New York and D.C. Then, when word of Flight 93 came in to air traffic controllers, the flight trajectory indicated the possible crash in our county, though the plane did get through our county, crashing in the next one over.
That smell, and the smoke, continued to haunt the air for nearly a week. Fire trucks could not readily get back to the crash site of Flight 93, and the decision had been made to leave the plane burn since the crash was in the middle of nowhere and had breached a mine shaft from the sheer impact of it all. Being so deep in the ground, there was no danger of the fire spreading, only the danger of a haunting reminder to those nearby. So we lived in the literal dark from that day for nearly seven days, and we lived with the smell and the memory of what every single one of those heroes on that plane did that day; the way they knowingly sacrificed their lives to save the lives of Lord only knows how many others. Whether they get properly recognized for it or not, they are the true heroes that make this country so strong and so amazing.
It wasn’t until a few days ago that I learned the trajectory of the plane immediately after the hijacking and in the initial moment of the passengers breaching the cockpit had set it to hit in a town just eight miles from where I live in Mount Pleasant, Pa. It’s believed that, in the last act of heroism, one of the passengers killed the terrorist flying the plane and took control over it, pulling it up and causing it to miss Mount Pleasant altogether and giving it a few more minutes of flight time before landing in the middle of Shanksville. That was more lives saved by those passengers, because had the plane hit Mount Pleasant, many more lives would have been lost. Hitting homes, businesses and hospitals would have been unavoidable in that little town on top of a hill.
There’s still so much I don’t understand about that day and so much we don’t actually know about the crash of Flight 93, and never will, because we weren’t on that plane. We didn’t live inside of the last moments of their lives. Thinking back on this day, remembering the moments of the crash and knowing that I felt it, heard it and smelled it as those people lost their lives makes me cry. Though I was not there, it still remains just as emotional knowing that you felt someone lose their life while they saved the lives of countless others so bravely.
As a psychic medium, I have been asked numerous times over the years to go to the crash site, somewhere that I’ve never ventured. The hope is that I can talk to some of those souls who died so quickly and probably still find themselves at the site, confused. To date, it’s not something I’ve emotionally been able to do. I see things how they are when tragedy struck, not how they are now. I know if I make the decision to go up there I will see the wreckage, I will see the plane as it went down, and probably many other things I don’t want to see. When I mix those images with the memory of the sounds and smells from that day, I’m afraid I won’t emotionally be able to stand my ground. One day I do want to go up there and I do want to help the heroes of that day, but I need to know it won’t break me, because if it does, I won’t be helping anyway.
Since that day I’ve had a numerous variety of spirits come in and out of my home telling me their stories of how they lost their lives that day. This is something that still continues to this day and gets especially worse around this time of year. Often times, I find myself unable to function and filled with sadness during the first few weeks of September. One particular young girl, who has never uttered a word to me other than to tell me that she was a hero of Flight 93, continues to be a constant visitor around this time of year. From pictures I’ve seen of the heroes, I strongly believe she is the young girl who called her stepmother to say goodbye right before she and the other passengers breached the cockpit, but without her speaking to me, it’s not something I can prove. My hope is that all of these souls can find peace, and hopefully I can and have helped the ones who have come to me over the years. It’s been a struggle, but I refuse to think of the people on Flight 93 as victims, but only as the heroes that they are, because I believe this is the best and most accurate way to preserve their memory. They knew the likely outcome when they took over that plane and they selflessly chose to do it to save other lives.
We are and always have been one nation under God, and even in the darkest act of terrorism where the devil was present, I truly God has shown brighter in the heroes of September 11th, including those on Flight 93. Thank you to those heroes, for saving lives and putting yours on the line for others. You are everything to an entire nation and your sacrifices will never been forgotten and neither will you. As we all look back and remember this day in history, I find our nation remembering the acts of heroism more than the acts of terror. God and good will and has prevailed over that day through those heroes. You will be remembered.