The anniversary of the September 11th
attacks on our country is here once again.
year like clockwork, the beauty of the New England fall days becomes a reminder
of the horror that occurred on that beautiful, blue-skied day, now twelve years
all, as a nation, have our memories of that day; memories stamped into our
subconscious because of the enormity of that major life event. Memories of a major life event that
continues to shape our homes, our nation, and in fact, our world.
memories of September 11th are a bit different than most. For me,
the events of September 11th were framed and orchestrated on
September 10th. You see I’m the wife of First Officer Steve
Scheibner, a 757/767 pilot for American Airlines.
years ago, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, my son Peter released
his film, In My Seat, recounting Steve’s experience on September 10th
and 11th. To date, almost two
and a half million people have viewed the film. The film and Steve’s
experience, like the terrorist attacks themselves, have served to remind people
of the brevity of life and the importance of living lives full of purpose and
Steve was originally
scheduled to be the First Officer on Flight 11, the first plane to crash into
the World Trade Center.
original assignment was made on the afternoon of September 10, 2001. It was
changed by the evening of September 10th when a senior pilot
“bumped” Steve from the trip. Although we didn’t realize it at the time, an
opportunity to “pick-up” some extra flying for that senior pilot would change
his life forever.
It would change our lives,
co-pilot seat of Flight 11, a seat that should have rightfully been Steve’s,
was filled instead by Tom McGuinness, one of the first victims of September 11th.
anniversary brings a flood of remembered and stored emotions rushing back to my
heart. It’s hard to even describe the opposing feelings of relief and guilt… joy
that day, twelve years ago, my absolute relief at the realization that Steve wasn’t
flying was quickly tempered by an unexplainable feeling of guilt that Tom
McGuinness had died in his place. My joy
that my husband was safe was checked by my sorrow for Tom’s wife and children.
day became a day of stark contrasts: Time spent glued to the television,
watching in horror as towers fell and lives were irrevocably damaged. Interspersed
with diapers to be changed, stories to be read at naptime, meals to be
prepared, and the myriad other duties that come in the day of a large family.
spent hugging my own children was bittersweet as I was began to realize how
many other children had lost their parents on the ground, in the towers, or on
How do you reconcile holding
your own husband, while another wife is seeing the black car announcing death
pull up in her driveway?
How do you feel joy, while
another is facing sorrow and grief?
me, those contrasting emotions presented a choice. I could wallow in a guilt
that truly didn’t belong to me; Steve hadn’t done anything to take himself off
Flight 11. He hadn’t purposefully avoided the flight.
Or, I could stop and be
thankful that Steve was still alive. I could resolve anew to live my life with
a sense of purpose and urgency.
simple truth is this: Every day does
count. Whether I’m busy parenting, composing a blog, or pursuing any other
of my countless goals, how I spend my days can either make a difference, or
simply become a tidy check in the block with no greater purpose served.
11th caused me to re-evaluate my own choices. To fine-tune my goals
in order to determine how my daily activities fit into reaching those goals. As a mother of eight children, training my
children to embrace character and leadership became my central focus.
11th and the subsequent changes that day caused in our cultural
norms made it obvious to me that my legacy would find it’s greatest fulfillment
as I did my part to raise a new generation of young adults.
A generation of courageous,
character healthy young adults, equipped and prepared to face the escalating
challenges of their world.
the past twelve years, and especially in the last twelve months, Steve has
traveled throughout our country and overseas. He shares a message of purpose,
passion, and commitment. That message isn’t just for everyone else; it’s a
message for me, as well.
yes, the anniversary of September 11th brings back painful and
troubling memories, but it also brings me a yearly reminder. A reminder of the
clarion call I’ve received that beckons me to live this life on purpose; to
leave it a better place than when I found it.
we’ll never forget. But, may our remembering make us a stronger, more
purposeful, more compassionate people.
By the way, if you haven’t seen my son’s award winning film, In My Seat, may I suggest you take a few minutes now to watch and see the hand of God?