“Oh, say, can you see?”
CAs, can we talk? It is hard to believe that a year has passed; I pray that never again will our country have to experience such a devastating loss as that incurred on September 11, 2001.
I was up early that morning, packing and gathering my materials for my flight to Oklahoma City the next day. I was looking forward to my weeklong trip to work with Dr. Bobby Doscher and her staff at the Oklahaven Children’s Chiropractic Clinic, and to conducting a two-day chiropractic assistant training seminar for the Oklahoma State Chiropractic Independent Physicians Association (OSCIPA). I received a call from my clinic’s control assistant: “Turn on your TV! A patient just told me that a commercial airplane crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York! ”
As many others did on that day, I turned on the television and watched in amazement as the second plane rammed into the second tower of the World Trade Center. “Oh, dear Lord – we’re being attacked!” was my first thought. I called the office back and told them about the second plane, and that I would keep them updated on my plans. I added that if a patient asked to turn on the news today (instead of the educational content the TV is normally used for), it would be fine.
Like many others around the world, I stayed glued to the newscasts. I would periodically call the clinic to give and receive reports. I was pleasantly surprised that patients were keeping their appointments. When I looked back at our demographics from that date, I saw a 97-percent “show-up” rate, with two new patients that financially committed to long-term corrective care. Even during the panic and uncertainty, the people of our small Midwestern community desired to become healthier individuals through chiropractic. Ours was an example of a practice whose doctor and super CAs continued to follow procedures and policies even in a crisis. That’s the power of a clinic with a purpose.
Late that afternoon I realized the terrorist attack would hinder or prevent my passage to Oklahoma City and Tulsa. I began calling the airline that I was to fly out on the next morning. All it would confirm was that there would not be any planes able to fly in U.S. airspace until the ban was lifted by our government. Until then, no flights could be rescheduled. I was expected to speak in three days to hundreds of CAs and numerous DCs, with no way to get to the engagement.
I phoned Dr. Bobby at Oklahaven. She and her staff, of course, were rattled about the day’s events. It had not been all that long ago that the people of Oklahoma City mourned: now another attack, and again the stress and the need for national and personal healing. It looked as though the months of planning for my visit would not pan out, but I told Dr. Bobby I would not give up yet. Maybe the skies would open up in the next couple of days.
Unfortunately, I did not make it to Oklahoma City for my speaking engagement. I would have to wait for another time to experience the special children helped by the loving doctors and staff at Oklahaven. I did not know who was more disappointed – Dr. Bobby, or me.
My next call was to the OSCIPA. Were they comfortable holding the seminars given the circumstances? They were. I explained that I was a 13-hour drive away, but hoped I could fly out. My husband; two children; mother; father; and staff begged me not to go to Oklahoma. No one thought I should be so far away from home during such uncertainty. Their concerns added to the stress of helping make the event come together, but I did understand their concerns. (Thanks for the love.)
There were still no commercial flights in the air late Thursday afternoon. If I were going to drive, I would need to leave soon. I called the people at the OSCIPA and told them I was packing the car for the drive, and that I would see them at the hotel Saturday morning for the seminar.
The drive was interesting. On the highways and interstates the American flag was everywhere; red, white and blue ribbons were on many cars and streetposts. These symbols of patriotism helped me feel safe in some odd way.
After I arrived at my hotel in Oklahoma City, I went to a trendy Italian restaurant next door. To my surprise, the restaurant manager asked all the patrons to join him and his staff outside for a candlelight vigil. As we walked out the front door, the waiters handed us each a candle to light. For the next few moments, I watched as the other restaurants in the area joined us to remember those lost only a few days ago. A moment of silence was then observed.
Then a woman directly behind me began singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Within a couple of seconds, everyone joined in. Hundreds of people at the restaurants across from us sang along. There were about 400 strangers singing, crying and mourning our nation’s loss. It was a heart-rending moment that will always be embedded in my mind.
Our seminar went well: The turnout was terrific, the energy was fabulous and the people of Oklahoma were wonderful to me.
I soon found myself home safe and told my husband about the Friday evening vigil, and what great energy the seminar had. But what I was most anxious to tell my husband was how grateful I am to God for blessing me with a spouse and family to come home to.
Until next time, CAs: Go out and make a difference!
Copyright Dynamic Chiropractic Sep 24, 2002
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