Mrs. Dalton nixed our social studies lesson to tell us about a plane crash. I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal, didn’t bad things happen all of the time on the news? The teachers were acting strange, their forced smiles were anything but encouraging. I kept hoping my name would be paged over the intercom so I could get out of school early like some of my friends.
But it wasn’t. So, I rode home on a bus quiet with confusion. I began to grasp the severity of the “accident” when I saw my mom sitting on the edge of the couch, with her wide eyes wet with tears. I’m sure I made some flip comment about how they were talking about that at school and then escaped her sadness and headed to the basement. After all, I had an after-school show to watch with a sugary snack. My daily ritual didn’t last long, Seventh Heaven was cancelled for the plane thing that was all over the news.
I thought it was because I was young and simply didn’t get it, but it wasn’t. Everybody was vulnerable, terrified, blank – like the world had stopped turning.
Alan Jackson thought the same thing. So he wrote it down.
Everybody can cling to at least one line of the song, When the World Stopped Turning, and say, “that was me.” I know my household could only take so much black smoke filling the screen before the black and white sitcoms were turned on. I’m sure our church attendance sky rocketed in September and October, and “peace be with you” all of sudden held meaning. His words spoke to us like a comforting friend.
Jackson, a man with a record label was able to put his observations to a tune; an artist going through the same emotions as every other American. With tragedy comes perspective. Rock star or school teacher, athlete or stay at home mom – our flags wave with the same stars and stripes, but today they wave a half staff lower.
His melody serves as a memory. Not one that any of us ever wanted, but one that needs to be played so we never forget.
Check out where other country stars were.