August turns to September and we remember


The long hot month of August has finally turned to September and with it the landscape is quickly changing. The hot, dry air and dusty roads are still the same but now added to the mix are colorful leaves and much longer shadows.

Whether the leaves are an early sign of fall or a sure sign of the lack of rain is hard to tell, but a few cooler mornings along the way have made most folks yearn for fall foliage, pumpkin pies, and hot boiled peanuts. We’ve had the latter several times already.

There are a couple of spots on Highway 21 that are always sure signs that Autumn is near. They are even more obvious as the early morning dew, which is now, and always has been, abundant at our place, makes the red dust from the roadbed cling tightly to the windshield. When the rays from the sun hit those streaks on glass the glare is unbearable, and I’m quickly reminded that this is the time of year that the sun is creeping further and further to the south.

The same is true at the office on clear September mornings. The bright blue sky is quickly obliterated by the rising sun through our windows facing to the east. And at certain times when driving up to the back dock I’m instantly reminded that I should have pulled in from the other direction as the sun’s rays peak over the top of the building and I have to shield my eyes from the light once again.

Often though, this time of the year when I see the blue sky and the ball of fire shining so brightly it reminds me of that morning 17 years ago when our peaceful world  changed so quickly. The sky was clear and a brilliant blue on September 11, 2001 when those airplanes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, and that field in Pennsylvania.

Some things you never forget, and that day for those of us that watched it unfold, is one of them. I was publisher of The Rankin Record in Flowood and my staff and I had not been at the office long when a friend called and told me to turn on the television. “A plane has flown into the World Trade Center,” Suzanne said through the phone with an urgency I can still hear in her voice.

We flipped on the little black and white set I had on top of a bookcase, mainly for emergencies like bad weather and the sort, and sure enough the Channel 3 news was showing a special report from New York City. About that same time the second plane hit, and my news editor, Dale Rose, immediately whispered, “it’s Osama bin Laden.” And, indeed it was.

Things changed a lot in the days that followed. Americans grew closer than ever, and there were no labels of Democrat or Republican. We were all just Americans asking how, and where, do we go from here?

The Red, White and Blue was flying from every pole — and everything that could be made into a pole — that September. Driving from the Ross Barnett Reservoir in Rankin County to Greenwood where our newspaper was printed the day after 9/11, I was amazed at the number of vehicles, like mine, flying the flag from the radio antenna.

There were signs in yards that read “never forget” and politicians on both sides of the aisle stood proudly in unison on the Capitol steps and sang God Bless America. There was no mention of left wing or right wing, no newscasts of bickering and infighting, no name calling or any of the stuff we see today.

There was patriotism and a common cause and it called for justice for the thousands that lost their lives on a beautiful, late summer day. 

I wish we could come together again like that as August turns to September.

I sure do wish we could.