I remember where I was and what I was doing September 11, 2001 as if it were 10 months ago not 10 years. So much time has passed but so little movement has been made from that place of vulnerability in our memories of 9/11.
I remember that day pretty well. I was faxing a resume and clips to Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago, Illinois in reference to a position. I had just dropped my son off at pre-school and daughter at a near by elementary school. I remember the television still being on channel 11 PBS Chicago because the children were watching it. I saw a plane run smack dab into a building out of the corner of my eye and thought to myself, ‘how stupid can people be? How do you not see a skyscraper?’ Apparently, I thought the whole thing was a documentary, according to the video.
I did not know because the sound was down. When I kept seeing a repeat of the plane hitting the tower, I changed the channel because it was depressing. But the transmission was the same. Every channel I turned to had what would be come to known as the 9/11 Tragedy.
I finally sat down from the fax machine and watched as the second tower was hit. I could not image who would want to do such a thing! We must be under attack!
Newscasters had video to show the public because it was such a gorgeous day that day and everyone had a video camera it seems in New York. They said terrorists were responsible and were obviously angry at the fact that our nation’s security had been breached in a most egregious way. Neutrality would not have been appropriate. Then the news changed: the Pentagon was hit. It took about three minutes for that to sink in before I was putting my coat back on and yanking my kids from school. I knew if terrorists were responsible, that it very well may be on like Donkey Kong for the USA. If we were under attack, the last place my children needed to be was away from me!
The Pentagon had never been attacked before — ever! That meant war, in my small, plain-citizen mind.
Before leaving home, I called my mom — several times. I told her about what I saw on television. She was watching a taped re-run of “Murder She Wrote,” on a cable station then that transmission was interrupted so mother turned and turned again and the transmission was the same — the planes! Mom said not to worry because America was always safe. I pointed out that the Pentagon had been hit. She was silent for a moment but told me do not disrupt the children’s day in school and above all, do not panic. I didn’t listen. I tore out of the house to get my kids.
When I arrived at the school, the staff asked why I was so flustered and I told them. They had blank stares. Then I asked them when, in their or their parent’s lifetime, had they heard of our nation’s capital being under attack? The Pentagon had been hit. The women looked worried and began to make calls of their own.
Dropping my children off at my mothers (dad was at work), it occurred to me that these events happened in D.C. and New York and that I was helpless to do a thing. I was numb then I remembered my hair appointment so I went to it. The woman who did my hair had a son in who was in the military. He called her and told her what was going on, how military aircraft had been scrambled to intercept. All of the women there talked about their theories, their take on what happened. Nine Eleven was a new experience for everyone.
My editor called me in to work afterwards. I was still numb but I remember asking people their feelings about the events had occurred that day, like a little robot. I barely heard responses, I was on autopilot. I filed the quotes with the newspaper editors but cannot remember what happened the rest of the day. I watched news coverage of 9/11 the next day. The things I heard from newscasters were repeated one other time and then no more information. I will never forget it.
Years passed and I remember taping some 9/11 memories on some of the anniversaries. I remember having to explain, eventually to my son, 9/11 as he was writing a report on it. I have researched the events that happened that day on my own as well but I know one thing: I have a different feeling, a different view of where I live. We are not impenetrable. We are not automatically safe. Safety cannot be left up to first responders and the military — it is up to all of us who live in the United States and want to keep it safe.
Improvements have to be made to our communication systems and our opinions of others who do not live here or care for our system of government. I am forever suspicious –suspiciously alert to any abnormality on the horizon. I feel as if 9/11 won’t happen again but it doesn’t hurt to be careful.
It’s like I took the wrong Matrix pill and now live in the belly of a ship eating gruel out of sardine cans. I want the olden days back but they are gone like the Towers, gone like my editor, Richard Grey, gone like my ex-husband, Bill–gone and never, ever coming back.