I’M POSTING THIS NOW….
I write about a lot of things on this blog that are fun, silly, and strange. I love to post pictures of Bob the horse, and the rest of the herd and wonderful Melvin.. The squirrels and the birds and the deer and the raccoon, all bring beauty, humor, and wonder into my life. But sometimes a “different” kind of “wonder” makes an appearance.
On a recent morning, I was driving toward a particular area of Florida that I wanted to photograph….and I happened to drive by the local airport..We spend time in Venice, Florida…a wonderful “small” town…charming…..serene. The waves of the gulf wash in and wash out, marking the tides of time….I know in time the one shadow that lingers over Venice will be erased, but for now, some new additions at the airport are a reminder that for a time, evil found a home in Venice.. The terrorists of 9/11 trained to fly at our little airport…it is one of several places that they trained…..When we first found a place in Venice, one of the things that we found really neat about it was the airport…..small trainer planes would fly out over the gulf and practice their take-off and landings, “touch and goes”, flying LOW, LOW, LOW over my head as I “scooped” for sharks-teeth in the surf. Some people would spread a blanket out on the beach and wait for the planes to glide just above their heads…the landing strip is that close to the beach.
The year that all of this took place was 2001 ….we had purchased our place in time to celebrate the Millennium…at the stroke of midnight, we all stood with our toes in the Gulf of Mexico…it was a sunset to remember…half of the sky was black, the other half gold…and we were there to see it…to be part of it…marking an amazing moment in time…little did we know that the practicing that we saw would lead to another moment in time…never to be forgotten.
The flight trainer practice that we watched occurred in January and was still occurring on our return in June. We have since learned that Mohammed Atta was one of the student pilots and he and several other student pilots made quite an impression on the small sleepy town….fights occurred in restaurants, no one knew who they were, but people gossiped about a possible connection to “the mob”. Large heavy crates were hauled in and out of apartments one block off the historic downtown.
At that time, if you had the money, no questions about your background or your “plans” as a pilot, were asked. The fact that these individuals only wanted to learn how to FLY the plane and NOT how to LAND it…didn’t seem to faze the instructors….cash in hand…they were happy. Many of the people who operated this “school” just faded out of sight after 9/11.
On my way to capture images on that very recent morning, I drove past the airport and I felt a different kind of wonder from the type that I get shooting the beauty of our world…There were new signs up on the fence around the airport…where there had been open areas for people to pass through and walk out to the planes and whatever else they might want to see…there were now locked gates. These changes caused me to wonder……..why now….so many years later, are there suddenly gates, and warnings………I know one thing, and this I don’t have to wonder about….It’s all way too little and it’s far too late.