Today I was cleaning and listening to country music blaring from the radio when Allen Jackson’s, “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” started playing. It is 13 years later and I still get goose bumps when I hear the first few notes. By the time the lyrics begin, my memories start flowing like a river.
History in Music: Where was I?
I was at home, Ft. Polk, LA, in my laundry room putting clothes in the washing machine. Like every morning CNN was on the television while I cleaned house. I heard the newscast, walked out of the laundry room and called my next door neighbor. All I could say was, “Do you have CNN on?” She replied, “No.” I said, “Turn it on.” We stood silently in our homes, phones to our ears watching the replay of the first crash. My doorbell rang during this phone silence. It is another neighbor. She looks at me and says, “You do know we are going to war.” I shook my head as I whispered, “Yes.” A few minutes later, our little band of normally merry army wives is sitting in the living room of my next door neighbor watching CNN. We all gasped in unison as we watched the second plane crash through the south tower of the World Trade Center. Where were you?
History in Music: Other Songs Memorializing September 11
There are moments in history that are so shocking, so devastating, and so traumatic that artists can only express their feelings by pouring them into their art. September 11, 2001 was one of those moments in history. According to History.com:
“On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Often referred to as 9/11, the attacks resulted in extensive death and destruction, triggering major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defining the presidency of George W. Bush. Over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police officers and firefighters” (2010).
The events of 9/11 inspired many artists, including song-writers and musicians to pour their sorrow into their art. Following is a list of other songs memorializing September 11:
- “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue” by Toby Keith
- “American Soldier” by Toby Keith
- “If Your Reading This” by Tim McGraw
- “Letters From Home” by John Michael Montgomery
- “Have You Forgotten” by Darryl Worley
Those of us who witnessed these tragic events, whether in person or in shocked silence from our sofas; will forever be reminded when we hear these songs. As for me, my heart opens and the images flood my mind. I remember, I pause for a moment in my busy life to honor all who were lost, all who gave there all, and all who served.