Ten years ago I was working in an office building six miles from the Pentagon. The company’s founder had a TV in his office. Once we heard the news about a plane flying in to the World Trade Center, we were all glued to CNN. At first we thought it was a horrible mistake. A tragic error on the part of the crew or a malfunction of the equipment. When the second plane crashed in to the tower, we knew the truth: This was no accident.
A few minutes later, we heard a plane fly extremely low. We all nervously chuckled because we thought we were over reacting to the news from New York City. The plane made a second pass down Columbia Pike, where our office was located and we knew that was not a normal flight pattern. Then, seconds later, Flight 77 crashed in to the Pentagon.
The force of the impact was so great that it shook the windows in our building. We closed the office and headed home because we then knew that America was under attack.
Like most Americans my age, I have grown up in a relatively peaceful time in America. Vietnam was over by the time I entered kindergarten. Unlike so many other countries and their citizens, I had never been through anything like this. Wars were in other countries. We had learned our lesson at Pearl Harbor but the new bad guys had tossed out the handbook.
The trek home in my car, with tens of thousands of other Washingtonians, was the longest drive of my life. Cell phone service was overloaded but we had Nextel and were able to communicate via the radio. My husband had just opened his business that March and was driving back from a job site. He was able to first reach our children at day care. My children were four and one.
Soon after I got on to Route 66, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all commercial and private planes. Airplane noise, which we normally tune out, was no where. The skies were eerily silent. Believe it or not, everyone was driving pretty calmly considering our normal state of Washington, DC rush and road rage.
We stayed glued to the TV the rest of the day and night. Because our children were so young, we were able to shield them from the tragedy, enough so that they really did not find out about 9/11 until the subject became part of a history discussion in school years later.
September 10, 2001, was the first time in my life I went to bed afraid. I prayed that God would protect us all; that survivors would be found; that first responders would keep the faith; that those who lost loved ones would not grieve forever. I admit that I also prayed that our military, CIA and other acronym-based agencies would find the bastards who did this. Yes, I prayed for revenge. The events were too fresh and I wasn’t spiritually ready to pray for forgiveness. Someone had declared war on the USA and I wanted John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Harrison Ford and Sean Connery to fix it all.
Where were you when 9/11 happened? How did you find out? How has it changed you?