I always wondered how people could remember exactly what they were doing with a tragedy hit…down to the last detail of what they were wearing, what the sky looked like and even the smells surrounding them. I could remember some things when I was younger but never anything detailed. I remember that I was watching the Challenger take off (before school) and it exploded. I remember school being let out early because President Reagan had been shot. But I can’t tell you what I was wearing or what anybody else around me was doing.
That all changed when 9/11 happened. I, along with the rest of my group, had been downsized from a national accounting firm the day before, with the fake promise of “we expect things to get better after the 4th quarter, and may put this team back together”. And with that and a nice severance package, my partner and the rest of my team were packing up our stuff. It was especially heartbreaking because I was lured away from old position with more money and business travel but the projects hadn’t materialized over an entire year. At any rate, Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I had nowhere to be and could sleep in for the first time in years on a weekday but woke up early anyway. Conditioning I guess.
I was listening to a local urban radio station (K104) as I usually did on my drive to work except it was on the radio. They casually announced that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York. I seriously thought “some fool daredevil in a little plan has run into the World Trade Center trying to make the news”. I turned on the tv, and remember rubbing my eyes trying to fully wake up. I saw the burning hole in the side of the building…and as I was watching, I saw another plane…and I was thinking ‘wow that other plane is flying very low…..why is it flying so low…’ and right in front of my eyes….it went through the building! I could not believe it. I stood there silent and shocked.
And then there was a split screen on my tv that showed the Pentagon on fire. Apparently, it had been hit by a plane too. I remember thinking “oh my GOD, we are under some kind of attack” and thinking about all the other planes out there and wondering what other buildings would be hit. And then as the news started to pour in about it being a terrorist attack, I got ANGRY. I was soooo angry. I wanted to sign back up for the military and FIGHT whoever it was that was behind this tragedy where so many innocent people were killed. How dare they bring their behinds over HERE on U.S. soil and use our own airline system and planes against us?
I was glued to the tv…could not pull myself away but called all my family members. I worried about friends and coworkers in NYC….worried about my husband who was near downtown. I prayed about 100 times. I was sure that the Bank of America building in Dallas would be hit. The phone lines were a mess…calls were not going through…and I remember breathing a sigh of relief every time I discovered that someone else was okay. I was really, really worried about my college friend Tonya in DC. I would later learn that she had to walk home. For SEVERAL miles. And if you know my friend Tonya, you would know that she likely had to do it barefoot because she always wore heels.
I was relieved to find out that all planes were grounded quickly but nervous that there were a few that were unaccounted for. One by one, they all came in…except for one. I was devastated when that plane later crashed in Pennsylvania. The passengers on board got wind of what had happened with the other three planes and tried to take that one back from the terrorists and the plane had gone down. More lives lost. I remember the news stories all that day of people who died on the planes….people who died in the buildings that were hit….people who jumped to their deaths from the burning buildings. Saw the images…. Saw both of the towers come tumbling down, their foundations and structures weakened by the burning metal. Cried for the emergency personnel who had gone in to save others who died as well. It was truly a tragedy where so many and so much died that day. My naivete about enemies and people hating us definitely died. I realized that wars were not always waged in foreign lands…and that other people could come to this country and kill us. And that the weapons didn’t always have to be bombs, or guns, or some type of gassing agent. But in the wake of that tragedy, I also learned about resilience. I saw acts of kindness I had never before witnessed and a coming together of this country I had never seen. And then as time passed, things went back to normal. Crimes, murders, hate, racism….And here we are 15 years later.
I have NEVER forgotten though. And I will NEVER forget. WE WILL NEVER FORGET. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @soshaydee