Somewhere in Pennsylvania

wall flag

Driving this past summer between Pittsburgh and Gettysburg. Needed to stop for lunch.

Made our way off the Pennsylvania Turnpike, through a little town, and into a Pizza Hut. The buffet’s a crowd pleaser.

Sat down with our salads and slices. Remarked how this Pizza Hut was unlike any other restaurant we’d visited.

The place was decked out in Star Spangled Banner. Flags hung from the windows, the ceiling, the salad bar. All awash in red, white and blue.

salad bar

It was June 14th. Flag Day. Though it really didn’t matter. I’m a pushover when it comes to Old Glory. This was my kind of place.

Had the iPhone handy, so I snapped a couple pictures. After our meal, I walked the restaurant and snapped a few more.

Flag of Honor

That’s when I saw it. A large banner centered behind the buffet:

Flag of Honor. This flag contains the names of those killed in the terrorist attacks of 9.11. Now and forever it will represent their immortality. We shall never forget them.

Flag of Heroes

And centered on the other side, another banner:

Flag of Heroes. This flag contains the names of the emergency services personnel who gave their lives to save others in the terrorist attacks of 9.11. Now and forever it will represent their immortality. We shall never forget them.

Chilling, dignified, fearless patriotism. Alive and well in a small town pizza joint.

the wind farm

Soon we were back on the Turnpike. Green hills and forests surrounded us with billowing gray clouds overhead.

A wind farm south of the road offered the only hint of motion for miles. Low mountains rose in the distance, ahead of the quiet rain now spattering our windshield.

Picked up the iPhone again. Googled the county where we ate lunch: Somerset.

Mapped it in relation to the town in Pennsylvania: Shanksville.

Somewhere just north of us it happened. The hijacked plane plunged through these skies.

In this air, Todd Beamer prayed The Lord’s Prayer and concluded: “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.”

There was no sign. No fanfare. No convenient off-ramp to pay respects. The highway speeded us through, leaving the place behind in the rain. We’d crossed hallowed ground and nearly missed it.

The people there will never forget. Will we?

overhead

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 NIV

Alan Jackson’s Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning bids us to remember.

This is the first of three posts commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9.11.2001. The second post The Angry American was published on September 1, 2011. The final post If You See Something was published on September 10, 2011.

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24 Comments

Filed under America, remembering 9/11

24 Responses to Somewhere in Pennsylvania

  1. Kari

    I pray we never will forget. Thanks, Aimee.

  2. Thanks Aimee. Jeremy always says that if we weren’t engaged when the towers went down, he would have joined the Army THAT.DAY. He ended up doing it anyway a few years later, but it always reminds me of how impactful that day was on our lives so far away.

  3. Excellent post Aimee. I too think of that day often. We should never forget. Thanks for doing your part and I look forward to the other posts that are coming.

    God bless,

    Rodney

  4. Never forget. I’m traveling in the skies on 9/11 this year but purposely avoiding major hubs. The flag waves proud in our small town every where but I love seeing that restaurant and their flag proud ways. I was just in Nashville for one night and always share your blog with my farmer friends. Hope we can talk or maybe Skype soon.

    • Would love that, Katie. Thanks for sharing the blog with your friends too.
      I know you spend a lot of time in air travel. In 2003, I had a freelance assignment that had me jetting all over the country. I remember flying on 9/11 that year. It felt a bit nervous and eerie. The airport was nearly deserted. But we made it. And we keep on making it. We carry on and do what we have to do. I think that’s part of what it means to be an American.

  5. Jeff

    9/11 truly is a defining moment for our generation and we must not forget to share the horrors of the terrorist attacks on our nation with the generations that follow. Thanks for writing this and keeping the memories alive.

  6. Lisa

    Just read your post and hope I can stop tearing up before the growers arrive for my focus group. Beautiful Aimee, truly. As we think of 9/11 it’s too easy to think “twin towers” and forget that there other shattering events on that day. Thank you for remembering those men and women who were unexpectedly called upon to be heros in the face of certain death.

  7. chris

    Have you read the book called “Let’s Roll”? My family and I went to NY last year. It was quite the experience being there. Sure makes you think.

  8. Christel

    Awesome blog!!!! Shows how even the smallest towns were affected, not just a big city. So glad you snapped those pics and shared this very touching story!

  9. Pingback: Reader’s Choice 2011: Somewhere in Pennsylvania | everyday epistle

  10. Christel

    Definitely my favorite post! Touching & inspirational. “Let’s Roll”….We will never ever forget! Thank you Aimee, my lifelong friend!

  11. Pingback: The Angry American | everyday epistle

  12. I visited the Shanksville National Memorial in September. It was really emotional, but the memorial was nicely done and really well thought out. I had been kind of dreading that leg of our trip, but was so glad that we went.