I know that a lot of media attention has once again turned to the former twin towers site as an almost obvious choice to convey what all Americans feel and memorialize in their hearts as a day in infamy. I understand that this day, now officially titled Patriot Day, should be one for all of us in the U.S. to stop and pray for future peace and contemplate the deeper implications of what it means to us as citizens of this country. So many people lost their lives in the towers, the planes and the other buildings involved. We lost loved ones, friends and acquaintances along with dreams for their futures, their aspirations and their goals. We have all been diminished in some way by this loss.
My personal experience was a profound one even though I am fairly certain that I didn’t lose a single person to this tragedy. I came so close to being a tragedy myself that it took my breath away. After all, I was on the other side of the globe when it happened. My castle tour group and myself had just finished a visit to Herrenschiemsee Palace in Germany. If you wish to see it you can check it out on my web site www.ilovecastles.com . We didn’t find out about the Twin Towers until we got to our Austrian hotel that afternoon. I believe most of us turned on our televisions in our rooms at the hotel and saw the smoke billowing from the towers. We all met for dinner in shock. Everyone was much more quiet that night as we discussed what we had found out. It was a somber evening after having seen such flagrant wealth and extravagance at yet another of Ludwig’s castles. We decided to finish because it was nearly the end of the tour and we only had a few more castles to see.
When we reached Munich it was the end of a tour that began in Paris ( I flew out of Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. to start the tour) and to my surprise my German correspondent, Eva and her husband were waiting for me when I arrived. They had driven all the way there from Nuremberg out of concern and that touched me very deeply. Earlier in the tour we had met at Rothenburg and toured the city together and sat down to a wonderful German meal at one of the restaurants.
The rooftops of Nuremberg and the Castle Citadel above.
The tour group was collectively taken to the airport for our scheduled flights and I found out my flight home was delayed for an entire week. Because of that I was able to see a few other castles which I would never have seen on the tour. One, of course, was the huge citadel of Nuremberg and the Cathedrals which were going strong with Oktoberfest, the earliest one in Germany that year. Everyone was very kind to me when they found out I was an American. ( My German accent is very convincing when I use it but my subjunctive use of the language is a dead giveaway I suppose !) Eva and Hans-Juergen were very helpful to me and made me feel perfectly at home in Nuremberg and I’ll never forget that wonderful city !
By the time I was back on a plane and headed for Dulles Airport again (gulp!) I had a very keen feeling that the entire world had been affected by this tragedy. So many people asked me about what I thought the presidents actions would be even though I had no answer for them. Their genuine sympathy and concern gave me a true sense of how Americans are truly perceived by the world. Nearly every encounter was touching and profound in some special way. I felt comfortable every place I went. When I got home to Denver I was greeted with flags displayed on almost every home ! I wanted to kiss the ground !
At present, for me, 9/11 isn’t just represented by the new memorial at the Twin Towers. When I look at a castle I remember 9/11 and it is a positive experience. The castles represent what cannot be taken from me or anyone else. If you check the home page of my web site you will see a scripture near the bottom portion of that page just above the links which states: The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The rest of the verse is: the righteous run into it and they are saved. If you need reassurance that your faith will carry you, this is a great scripture to keep in mind but it is now a reminder to me that God honored my faith and didn’t allow me to perish at that time.
Through the years I have talked to a few people about 9/11 and what its significance is to them. One day when I was on my walk I encountered a traffic sign memorial and there was a load of pennies dumped only a few feet away from the flower memorial. As I looked at it I realized that someone had been killed there. As near as I could tell, most likely it had been a pedestrian accident. I carried home the pennies, not sure exactly what I had encountered. It seemed like something miraculous.
Then, only a couple of years ago I was walking past that corner again and saw some people standing there with flowers. One young woman was sobbing. They all seemed very sad. I knew at that moment that I had to know what happened there. I approached them and asked about the memorial and the oldest woman told me that her daughter was driving up to that intersection on 9/11 and was hit and killed by a drunk driver. The woman that was sobbing told me it was her sister. Everyone standing there was a relative of the woman that had been killed. Then I told them about the pennies I had found years ago and as I related it to them I knew there was a message in it for them. I told them where I was on 9/11 and then I said,
“Maybe those pennies were from heaven. I find pennies nearly every day when I walk. God wanted me to remember this spot. There must have been at least five dollars in pennies laying here. Perhaps your daughter- your sister…. wanted me to tell you that she’s in heaven and not to worry or cry anymore.”
I can’t say for certain if it was reassuring to her family but something struck a deep note in me. I realized at that moment that no matter the circumstance God can take any situation or even a tragedy and turn it around for good in one way or another. All you have to do is be open to what he has to say and be willing to speak when it is time for you to say something for him. It’s all up to us.
With heartfelt and significant hugs and kisses,
The Castle Lady