The Oklahoman

9/11 was another day that will live in infamy

- Berry Tramel Columnist The Oklahoman USA TODAY NETWORK

Editor’s note: This column by The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel ran in the print editions of The Daily Oklahoman on Sept. 12, 2001, the day after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Dad had always told me about the December day when news of the Pearl Harbor bombing reached rural Mayes County.

Dad was in the eighth grade at Big Brewer, a longgone school south of Salina. The bombing news didn’t even reach the old homestead on Dec. 7. The Tramel kids learned of Pearl Harbor the next morning at school.

The news crackled into Big Brewer over the radio in the one-seat Model A of schoolmast­er Wayne Lee Battenfield, who sent the eighth-graders into the cool morning to listen to President Roosevelt ask Congress to declare war on the Empire of Japan.

Dad’s imaginatio­n raced. In my imaginatio­n, I see his face freeze.

Sixty years ago, Hawaii to most Americans was no more accessible than a twinkling star. Pearl Harbor and Japanese bombers lived only in the mind’s eye.

The world’s a smaller place now. No more homey, really. No less fearful, but smaller. The New York City skyline, the Pentagon, they are as familiar to us as the corner grocery store.

So when terror strikes, it strikes deeper. It hurts more. It hits home.

It hit home six years ago in downtown Oklahoma City, the day that lives in infamy for us. The day we lost much of our innocence, much of our security. We lost the feeling that we lived in a haven, when suddenly we were saddled with the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil.

I wish we could have held that status forever. Not because of bragging rights. We don’t take pride in what happened to us on April 19, 1995; we’re proud only of how we responded.

No, I wanted Oklahoma to hold that status forever because no one should ever have to go through something so awful. Because the cycle has to stop.

But it didn’t.

Terror hit home again Tuesday morning. Far away from our downtown, but still home. The World Trade Center. The Pentagon. Four skyjacked jets. Thousands dead. We didn’t listen on crackling Philcos. We saw it immediatel­y, some of it even live.

We saw it and saw it and saw it some more. And all the horror of six years ago returned. Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and where there’s terror there’s sadness. And this small world keeps stacking up sadness.

Terrorism won’t stop trumping itself. The first World Trade Center bombing, which killed six. The Murrah Building bombing, which killed 168. This awful day, with buildings that once reached clouds lying in

rubble and lives that once bustled lying in morgues. It seems unreal. A bad-movie plot.

But the feeling, the fear, is oh so real.

We know what the Big Brewer eighth-graders learned Dec. 8, 1941. We know now for sure that we’re at war. We don’t know who and we don’t know where, but we know it’s war. This is our Pearl Harbor.

Berry Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1.

 ?? MARK LENNIHAN, AP ?? Firefighters work beneath the destroyed mullions, the vertical struts, of the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.
MARK LENNIHAN, AP Firefighters work beneath the destroyed mullions, the vertical struts, of the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.
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