I remember…how the bright blue blouse I wore matched the brilliant blue sky that Tuesday morning and thinking to myself, “This is the perfect day. Not a cloud in the sky.”
I remember…sitting down at the computer in my office and starting my normal routine of checking email, drafting the day’s to-do list and turning on the radio to add some background noise.
I remember…I was deep in thought (even though I don’t remember the actual thought that had my attention) when I heard the normally jovial radio DJ say, “A plane has just hit the World Trade Center in New York City.” My work-day radio selection is not known for serious commentary, so my first reaction was to think this was just another spoof of real news. Something told me this was different, though, and I quickly switched the radio to AM and found a news station.
I remember…how my hands came to my mouth to cover the gasp when I realized it was true, but worse than originally reported. Not one, but two planes had sped into the two tall buildings. This is no accident, the frantic commentators reported. This is chaos. This is terror.
I remember…picking up the phone to call my husband. “What!” he said when I relayed the news. As I brought him up to speed, I heard the latest from the radio…”The Pentagon has just been hit!” We were under attack.
I remember… how I held my breath when I heard, “Another plane has just gone down in…” and how my stomach fell and my knees got weak when the reporter continued “…Western Pennsylvania.” Home. That’s my home! I grew up in DuBois, PA, and when people ask where I’m from, instead of giving the name of my small town, I say “Western Pennsylvania”. They weren’t just attacking national landmarks. Now, they were targeting small town America…and my family.
I remember…how my hands shook when I ignored office policy and made a personal long-distance call to MY western Pennsylvania, desperate to hear that my mom and dad were okay. The first call wouldn’t go through, so I tried again and again, until finally it connected, and I heard my mom on the other end. “We’re fine,” she said. “The plane crashed near Somerset.”
I remember…how my mind shifted again with that news, and I made another call to the Hubs. “You need to call your mom. Make sure she’s okay.” Later, we learned that Flight 93 flew over her hometown of Johnstown, PA, just 30 miles from Shanksville, as its passengers bravely overtook the hijackers.
I remember…not wanting to be alone that day and how even though all meetings were cancelled and no work was done, no one actually went home. We needed to comfort each other. We needed the normalcy of the office setting.
I remember…driving to my gym at lunch, changing into shorts and a t-shirt and joining my fellow lunchtime exercisers in front of the television in the cardio equipment area. No one ran on the treadmills. No one climbed on the elliptical machines. We watched. We shook our heads, and we asked, “Why?” and “How?” This is where I finally met up with the Hubs and where we watched for the first of many times the total destruction of the Twin Towers.
I remember…wondering if my eight-year-old son knew what was happening and pondering how I would explain to him that the world had changed today.
I remember…that my son’s football practice was cancelled that night and knowing this was a significant event because football practice is only cancelled when lightning strikes.
I suppose lightning did strike that day. So many lives were changed. Wives made widows. Fathers made single parents. Children made orphans. Ordinary people made heroes.
Our nation was inspired by a patriotism not seen in decades, and while our President spoke of the American spirit, how we would not rest until justice was done and how our enemy was now “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” little boys and girls saw their futures form. They now knew with certainty that they would one day grow up to become one of the good guys. They were motivated to put on a uniform, defend the Stars and Stripes and make sure the horror they watched unfold in their classrooms on a sunny September day would never happened again.
Today, I remember the heroes…Those who lost their lives to terrorism. Those who survived with scars both physical and emotional. Those who have given their lives in defense of our country and those who put on their uniforms every day and continue to fight for a country that will never back down and will never forget September 11, 2001.
What do you remember about 9/11?