Where Were You on September 11, 2001?

The family was in Salt Lake City for Bob Nelson’s inauguration as the new president of NAIFA – National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.  Bob Nelson is my Dad.

And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?  -Esther 4:14b

Dad was not stepping into a royal position, but it sure was an important one, in every sense.  He took a breath and stepped up to the stage – not to accept the presidency, that would be the next day, but to address a very full, very anxious, even borderline terrified, room of his family and the best of the best of his profession.  I have never seen anyone do something so difficult, and I have never seen something so difficult done so well.

Many NAIFA members had called for the remainder of the meeting to be cancelled.  We were blessed to have all of the Nelsons together, but the Finches were all back in Nebraska, and most of the NAIFA members had left their entire families home to attend this week-long annual meeting.

I was as shocky as everyone and only remember bits and pieces of that day.  If I find a video or text of Dad’s speech, I will add it here.  Dad was wearing a dark navy suit and a red tie.  Dad said calming, profound things.  Dad almost cried but did not.  Dad frowned in a way that I knew as a kid meant business, and did again today, but this time was so very comforting.

I do remember the end of what Dad said.  He said, “Call home.  Make sure everyone is safe.  Turn off the TV for now if you can. If we do not go on, they win.  We have our families, we have each other. We will persevere.  We will carry on.  And…God Bless America.”

It was the longest standing ovation I have ever experienced.  We had needed order and stability in a time of chaos.  Leadership when we wanted to panic.  Hope in the midst of despair.  Later, a deep sadness would set in, that has been ingrained into the psyche of all Americans old enough to remember, I suppose.

Dad is in DC now at the annual NAIFA meeting, addressing the same industry leaders, and the same deep hurts, only now ten years later.  I am so proud of our country.  I am so proud of my Dad.

God Bless America.

Where were you?  How has 9/11 affected you?


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7 Responses to “Where Were You on September 11, 2001?”

  1. Other Mom says:

    Oh, Shawn, that brought tears to my eyes now. I’m sure your dad was awesome that day. I’m sure God put him right there for such a time as that!

  2. Shawn,
    What an interesting recollection you have shared. Your dad is a hero in the face of adversity in what he spoke to the audience that day.

    Here’s my story (soon to be published on my blog).
    I was visiting San Diego from Washington, DC with a former significant other. I stayed behind at my ex’s family’s house while my ex left early in the morning to drive his uncle to the San Diego airport to depart for a business trip to China. Needless to say, then plane never took off.
    As it was a beautiful southern California morning and I had a lovely cement platform perched on a hill overlooking the valley below, I took to my yoga mat for a routine self practice. Approximately half way through my practice, my ex’s mother came outside hysterically speaking of terrorists and a plane having hit the World Trade Center.
    Although I was shocked by the horrific nature of the event, my immediate reaction was to remain calm and finish my practice. As I suspected that the events were just unfolding and would be the topic of ongoing media exposure for much time to come, I stayed on my mat.
    After completing my practice and emotionally preparing myself for the intense nature of the visual images and stories, I then set myself in front of the television.


  3. Jill Farkas says:

    I was catching a flight fr Clev Oh to Orlando Fl. Mom had dropped me at airport as I walkd to gate saw many ppl gathered at var TV’s. Hrd sumone say plane hit WTC. Then it was thought to b an accident. Sat at gate as Hopkins airport got shut down. Lrnd all air travel grounded. Had to walk down interstate for mom to pick me back up. Entire morning very surreal n very disturbing. Never will forget.

  4. Jana Rade says:

    I was working at my home office when I overheard it on the radio. Went downstairs to turn on the TV to find out more.

    I remember sitting there speechless watching the horror unfold. I cried. When I returned back to work I had the images playing in my head.

  5. Jodi says:

    Oh, picturing BobNelson in all his Nelson-ness moves me to tears, even now. We are all very blessed to have him in our lives, and I know that those gathered that day will never forget.

  6. Becky Rasmussen says:

    Bill and I were getting ready for work. I was in our bedroom when the first plane hit and saw it on tv. We watched the second plane attack. I was a lunch lady, Bill took me to work and it was a long day. Our boss wouldn’t let us even have a radio on. The janitor gave us updates. I knew Bill was safe. My thoughts went to our son, john, who was a junior at MSH. I desperately wanted to leave and pick him up. (He later told me that he and his classmates watched the attack on tv.) I started to think about the rest of my family’s safety and who I’d need to contact when back home. As we ate dinner, we could not help but notice how quiet the sky was, especially since we lived by a busy flight path. (We did hear AF1 arrive and take off). It was difficult to comprehend.
    After calling our entire family to make sure they were safe, we were not able to contact the Nelson’s entire family. We knew they where in Utah and that Bob was being sworn in as NAIFA president, but we couldn’t even make phone contact. I know it wasn’t days, but it felt like it, when Dave Nelson picked up his cell. They had rented a huge van and were driving home. All my family accounted for. My family includes loved ones in the military. I knew where each and everyone was and could only pray for their safety.
    God Bless America now and forever!

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