FAIRFIELD – It was a time before Twitter, Facebook and widespread texting.
And yet word spread with mind-boggling speed.
“Turn on your TV. Turn on your TV.”
It was early in Fairfield — 5:46 a.m. — and the images didn’t seem real. A plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. What a tragic accident. Or was it?
Then 15 minutes later a second plane hit the south tower and it was clear this was no accident.
Local people tried to mobilize. Police went on high alert. Travis Air Force Base workers flooded Air Base Parkway but many were turned away as security on base tightened. Who knew what the next target might be — military bases?
A search-and-rescue dog team from Vacaville prepared to go east — but weren’t sent until days later. A local preacher took on his volunteer role as clergy for the Red Cross and flew in a lone military transport to New York.
But mostly people stayed glued to their televisions — and gasped when they saw the south tower collapse, a ripple of destruction that filled the streets with gagging dust. The north tower soon followed.
Meanwhile, there was news of fire at the Pentagon — and pictures of where a third plane had plowed into one of its five sides. Finally, at 7 a.m., reports came in of fighting on a fourth plane, which ended up crashing in a Pennsylvania field rather than its suspected target of the White House or Capitol.
In a matter of 1 hour and 15 minutes, America forever changed.
Fairfield changed with it, at least for a while. People were nicer to each other, they flew flags from their homes and cars, and patriotism became far more black and white for some.
Today the biggest long-lasting effect of changes wrought by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is an increase in security, particularly at Travis Air Force Base.
But there is also the need not to forget the events of that day — and the people who sacrificed their lives — and the fervent desire that we not let such acts of terror diminish our way of life.
Reach Kathleen L’Ecluse at 427-6933 or [email protected]