by Jessica Langdon
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — September 11, 2001. A late-summer Tuesday that began with blue skies is burned into the nation’s history as a dark, tragic day that changed us in many ways.
Brock Miller had just finished a trip as captain of a Boeing 717 for Midwest Airlines.
Now a member of Holy Family Parish in Eudora, he was living in Omaha, Neb., then. When he went to Mass that Tuesday morning, news had not yet broken of the attacks.
It was a beautiful day, and Miller was listening to the radio in his truck on the way home.
Naturally, the news he heard caught his attention — a plane had slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
As news of more crashes came in, it was clear something horrible was happening.
As the nation began to grieve for the people who died in the attacks, security measures the country had never known went into effect.
Within hours of the first attack, for example, the entire air system was shut down.
In the days that followed, it was only slowly that people returned to activities — including travel — that just a few days earlier had seemed so normal.
“I flew the very first flight into Washington National for Midwest Airlines,” said Miller.
A lot of behind-the-scenes security measures were in place. It would be an understatement to say everyone, from controllers to passengers, was on “pins and needles.”
“We noticed the various fighters over the Eastern seaboard,” Miller recalled.
About a month later, Miller flew into New York City, where the attacks had changed the horizon. Before, you could see the shining World Trade Center towers from 100 miles outside the city.
Miller remembers the smoke from the still-burning Ground Zero.
He can still see the handwritten words of a little girl among the tens of thousands of notes posted at a makeshift memorial.
She asked, “Dear Daddy, Why did you have to die?”
Life changed for many families on 9/11, and for our nation as a whole.
Air travel is different. The way you might handle a potential threat is different.
The United States went to war. Families of military members faced new realities. Some of their loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Children who were born in 2001 are now 10 years old, noted Overland Park Police Department Public Information Officer Matthew Bregel. For his own generation, which came of age after World War II and Vietnam, the reality of the 9/11 attacks hit home and changed perspectives.
Those are just some of the differences people across the archdiocese have seen during the past decade.
As we mark the 10-year anniversary, this is a time to remember and pray, said Father Peter Jaramillo, a Kansas Army National Guard chaplain and pastor of Holy Family and St. Mary-St. Anthony parishes in Kansas City, Kan.
“We have to constantly pray for peace,” said Father Peter. He urged everyone to pray for the people who have served their country and for a continued respect for life.
“Pray for God’s mercy upon the world,” he said.