There’s no question that 9/11/2001 will forever be etched in our minds. Much like the Kennedy assassination. we know exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news.
Fay and I were in France, and did not learn of the attack until the next day. I know, hard to believe, but true. We got up early that morning (remember…..six hours difference in time) in Casis, a seaside town in Provence, and headed to St. Remy, where we were looking forward to the Wednesday market (9/12).
We decided to stop for lunch around noon in Orgon, a small town about ten miles east of St. Remy. After all that is what one does in France at that time of day. Everything pretty much comes to a stop from noon to 2pm. Lunch is serious business, and something to thoroughly enjoy. We did as we usually do and stopped at the first restaurant we came to, and had a fantastic meal for next to nothing. We think now that we were just about midway through our lunch when the attacks were taking place.
After leaving Orgon we headed to St. Remy, and checked in at our hotel, the “Les Antiques”. The man at the desk was polite but said nothing about what had or was happening in the States. We dumped our bags, and headed to the Chateau le Baux ruins just outside town. This ancient site was perched atop a very steep hilltop where we could literally see for miles and miles. I remember the breathtaking view to this day, and how I just kept staring.
We were amazed that we were the only ones exploring the area, and of course later understood why…. We spent a couple of hours roaming the site, and returned to St. Remy. Since we had a big lunch we decided to save some money and picnic outside our room on the patio. We purchased some cheese, sausage, bread and of course a bottle of the local wine, and had a very relaxing meal. We were tired from all the exploring, showered and went to bed early….
The next morning, as we were getting ready to go to the market, I happened to turn on the TV, and saw videos of airplanes flying into buildings. I had no idea what this was about, and remember saying to Fay, “come here and look at this. Is this for real?”…. We were stunned, and I might also add, scared. Scared because we were halfway across the world, and our family was back in the United States.
We were scheduled to fly home 8 days later, but because of the grounding of aircraft we had no idea if the flight would be there for us. We had no choice but to continue on with our trip, but this horrific event was ever present in our minds. The French were fantastic, offering lodging, hugs, and tears. Michel Tocque, my treasure hunting friend, called us that morning and offered his home for as long as we needed. I cannot tell you how grateful we were.
The next few days were difficult in that local newspapers were non-existent and the places we were staying did not have TV’s. Most of what we learned we learned from other travelers along the way. We continued on to Ile le Sorgue, Roussillon, Orange, Vaison la Romaine and back to Paris. Amazingly our flight was not cancelled or delayed, and we were even treated to first class for our return trip, thanks to American Airlines.
On touchdown at Dallas/Fort Worth airport every passenger applauded, and it was a feeling I will never forget. The customs agents were extra kind in their duties, adding “Welcome Home”…..
It took us a day or two to fully grasp what had happened, watching continuous TV coverage, seeing video and photos not seen prior. What a horrendous tragedy it was. We would never be the same. I will also remember how everyone came together, and American flags were flying everywhere. We were Americans, proud and ready to stand together against whomever was responsible for this attack.
WE MUST NEVER FORGET 9/11 AND ALL OF OUR FALLEN HEROES
My wife fay also shared her thoughts on this day at http://cwpcblog.wordpress.com/