Sunday, September 11, 2011
Remembering September 11, 2001
Today, on the 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks against America, I've decided to blog about my memories of that day. Fortunately I didn't have any loved ones that died on that day, but the memories of that day still affect me.
I was getting ready for work while watching The Today Show, like any other day. There's a certain musical tone they use when they cut into the taped broadcast with breaking news to go live and I heard that tone. I went over to the tv to see what was going on and they had a live shot of Matt Lauer and Katie Couric talking about an explosion at one of the World Trade Center Towers. As they were talking, with a live shot of the towers in the background, we watched as another plane flew into the second tower.
This is exactly what we saw. It happened so quickly that everybody was a little unsure if we really saw what we thought we did. They played it over and over, and zoomed-in - yes, that was a plane that flew directly into the tower. Matt and Katie were completely shocked as they realized that this was not just an explosion. This was a deliberate act.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I couldn't drag myself away from the tv. Was this an accident - a very unlikely double accident? Who, why, really?
At some point in the coverage they showed the Pentagon and the results of the plane that crashed into it. This is crazy! What is happening to this world? Is this going to happen everywhere?
I called my mom at work to see if she knew what was going on. As we were talking, I watched the first tower collapse. It was unbelievable. I said to my mom, oh my god, I think the tower just collapsed! There was so much smoke and you couldn't exactly see what was going on. I kept trying to tell myself that the building was still standing behind all that smoke. And then the second tower fell and there was no question - both buildings were gone. So, so many people had lost their lives.
I eventually tore myself away from the tv to go to work. I just couldn't watch anymore. At the office everybody was in shock. My boss, a very hard woman, actually showed some compassion and some insight. She said - Our lives will never be the same. This is going to change the world we live in forever. She then told us all to go home and be with our loved ones.
I didn't realize then how much our world would change.
It wasn't until I got home that I found out about the plane that went down in Pennsylvania. What the people on that plane did, to save what we expect to be The White House, makes them all heroes in my book.
Planes were grounded for most of the next week. There was never-ending coverage of what was now known as a terrorist attack. I cried at every new story they profiled, cried when I watched the news and they told us new, awful facts - that people jumped out of the towers to escape the jet-fueled fires, that they were not finding any bodies in the rubble because they weren't there to find. A fire fighter said it best - All they're finding is metal because metal doesn't burn.
I was supposed to leave on a business trip, fly to California, the Sunday after the attack. Needless to say, my flight was cancelled. My boss and another co-worker rented a car and drove out there. By Tuesday I was able to get a flight out, though not to the city I needed to go to. The airport was like a different world. There were thousands of people lined up to check in - the longest line I have ever seen at DIA. It wound all around the check-in area and then back behind the counters and snaked around the balcony that overlooks the main terminal. It took hours to get through it. Then the security line was just as crazy. Though this was before they had banned liquids, it was still insane. The gates were surprising quiet though. There were so few people milling around and it was eerily quiet and strange. The plane was eerily quiet, too. People were worried and unsure. As soon as the plane touched down, everybody called their loved ones to let them know they were safe.
That was something I realized didn't happen all that much before the attack. You might call who was picking you up to make sure they were there, or call to check messages or something. But it became incredibly important to let your loved ones know that you were safe.
Almost 3000 people lost their lives that day. People in the four planes that crashed, people in the buildings in New York, people in the Pentagon. The many, many other victims are the families and loved ones of those that died. The effects are far-reaching and never-ending. Our world is forever changed.
That's how I remember September 11, 2001. We will never forget.