There were no moments of silence in our house this morning (impossible with four toddlers), but I still remembered. All day I've remembered. And while I was remembering, I realized that—although I still feel sick to my stomach when I think of what happened 9 years ago today—my memories themselves are fading. So I'm recording what I remember about that day here, mostly for my kids but also for myself. I don't want to forget.
On September 11, 2001, Ted and I had been married just over a year. He had to be at work much earlier than I did, so by the time I got out of bed that morning, he was already gone. I took a quick shower, and then I turned on the bedroom television to listen to the news while I got ready.
I was fixing my hair in the bathroom when I heard the local anchor announce breaking news. I stepped into the bedroom to look at the footage; the anchor reported that a small plane had accidentally crashed into one of the Twin Towers. Not alarmed, I returned to the bathroom to finish getting ready.
About a quarter of an hour later, I was in the kitchen, packing my lunch and watching the Today Show. The show's cameras were trained on the smoking tower while Katie Couric and Matt Lauer speculated as to the cause of the crash. Then the unthinkable happened: A jet flew into the other tower as we all watched. I had recently heard of Osama bin Laden, and I knew instantly that he was behind this act of terror. I called my dad, crying, and asked, "How could human beings do this to each other?"
When I calmed down, I got in my car and left for work. The skies were crisp and blue, and I marveled that they could have harbored anything so sinister in New York City. Then I turned on the radio and tuned it to NPR, just in time to hear them report that a plane had flown into the Pentagon. The government was under attack, they said, and authorities feared that another plane was possibly headed toward the Capitol. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. When I got to work, I walked across the parking lot and cowered as a small plane flew low overhead to land at a nearby metropolitan airport. It felt like no one was safe.
At my desk, I tried to check the news sites for more information, but the internet had crashed from so many people wanting to know what was going on. I soon learned that a woman in a nearby office had a television, so I gathered there with a few other people to watch the coverage. When we learned that a plane had gone down over Pennsylvania, a woman in our group said, "There was a hero on that flight." I had no idea what she meant by that at the time, but she was completely right.
GROUND ZERO & THE AFTERMATH
As we watched the shots of the two smoking towers, one suddenly began to cave in. We were stunned—it hadn't occurred to any of us that this was even a possibility. A half-hour later, we watched the other tower crumble to the ground in slow motion. I didn't realize the real horror of it until later, when I found out that the people in the buildings had not been evacuated.
Because I could not concentrate at my desk, I took some work home and spread it out in front of the television. I worked there all day and all evening, glued to the coverage and slowly realizing the magnitude of what had happened that morning. Over the next several days, I could not tear myself away from the television. I needed to see the destruction, to watch the rescue efforts, to hear the survivors' stories, and to learn the names of the people who were missing and of all of the souls who had been lost. I cried and cried and cried, and Ted begged me to stop watching. But I couldn't ...
Every American who was alive on September 11, 2001, has a story to tell about the day our world changed. And if they're anything like me, mere words cannot express the horror and the grief that we felt as we watched the terrible events unfold. May we never forget.