Americans who lived through September 11, 2001 will never forget where they were or who they were with that tragic day. Ten years later, I have been listening to different radio and television shows recalling the feelings and emotions running though American citizens. Now that we have had a decade to find somewhat of a clarity, a way to communicate what we went through and how we dealt with it for those first days following 9/11, Americans are sharing their stories for this anniversary.
I needed to get ready for work. I didn’t have to go in until mid-morning. Waking up to the TV announcing a plane had hit the World Trade Center, I knew it would be a big news day. At first, personally, I thought it was a private plane tragically being flown off course. How wrong I was. While listening from the bathroom some statement grabbed my attention. As I turned toward the bedroom TV I saw the second tower struck. “OMG! WHAT THE HELL”, was more than likely what I yelled out. I can only remember my body starting to shake, a fear reminiscent of watching Red Dawn for the first time, overcame me. America was being attacked! My husband, Rod, worked night shift at the time and was still asleep. He jumped out of bed to see if I was okay only to find out the source of my cry, he thought he was still dreaming. This could not be happening!
I left the house and listened to the radio broadcast about the Pentagon attack. As I was driving to work the first tower went down. When I arrived, I turned on the TV in a back office just in time to see the second tower fall. The new casters were trying their best to be professional. Flight 93 was not responding. Then finally it was announced it had crashed in a Pennsylvania farm field.
I worked with a woman named Pat at that time. She and I were the only ones to show up for work that day. Even our boss stayed home. He called and said he would be there when it looked like things were settling down. We sat in that back office watching everything on a 13″ black and white TV. I remember moving the antennas and searching for a clear station in a panic. That TV was our life line to what was going on in the country. There were no customers walking in the front door. There were only a few phone calls, mostly from contractors that wanted to discuss with someone the horrific events they were hearing on their truck radios. After a while, there were two middle-aged women who strolled into our lobby. “Can we look at some houses”, they asked. I remember thinking to myself REALLY TODAY. But, I calmly asked them if the had been listening to the radio. I must have been wearing my emotions on my face because they could tell something was wrong. “No, we have been having a girls day” they said, why? Pat and I started to tell them what happened and took them to that old TV to prove we were not trying to pull something on them. Across the TV screen were announcements that the schools in our area were in lock down and would be letting out early. One of the women noticed it and exclaimed that she had to go pick up her child. At that point the two left quickly. My sons arrangements had been taken care of and Pats daughter was old enough to drive. Finally, around 2 p.m., we called our boss at home and requested to close for the day, he approved our request.
Pat went home to see her husband, Tim. He was on the volunteer fire department and Pat was a member of the ladies auxiliary. Their station had decided to send paramedics to help out. Everyone expected that the medical attention needed for thousands of people would be overwhelming. The volunteers were packing up to leave for New York in a handful of hours when it is was discovered they would not be needed. There were few survivors.
I had been keeping in contact with my husband, probably every hour. I wanted to hear his voice for comfort. Finally, I let him know I was on my way to Milford, DE. Everyone wanted to help, but no one knew how. So, I decided giving blood was something I could do. Never in my life have I seen a blood bank with donors out the door. They were lined up into the parking lot. After awhile, someone figured out how many more bodies could donate and told the remaining donors they would have to give blood tomorrow. Thank God!, I was the last one who gave blood that day. I don’t know what I would have done if I had been turned away. My nerves were about shot at that point. I arrived home before dark and was able to either see or talk to my kids and family. No one knew what was next but I felt a whole lot better when President Bush finally landed Air Force One in DC. Now I know that he insisted to return to DC, but at the time I thought it was because it was safe. Turns out it was safe and the attacks were over for that day.
Many Americans that lived through the Pearl Harbor attack were not around during 9/11, so most of our country had not seen this type of destruction on “our” soil. I live less than an hours drive from the Dover Air Force Base, as the crow flies about 100 miles from Washington DC and a two-hour drive to Philadelphia. Being on the Delmarva peninsula makes me think of how close we are to the major cities and waterways that a terrorist might want to attack in the future. But I have decided, a long time ago, that I was not going to let some misguided hateful terrorist push me and my family from our home or way of life. Do not get me wrong, I worry but not to the extent where it consumes me.
I was never so proud to be an American as I was after the 9/11 attacks. You could feel the whole country swell up with pride as we intently listened to our Commander and Chief broadcast that America was pretty much going to kick ass and take names later. To this moment I still feel the pride I felt hearing that. We were going to attack Afghanistan. One is never happy for a war to begin, but sometimes it is necessary. To date, I am much more aware of my government and politics. Voting was always a given, but after that day I try to know whats going on and who’s doing it. I do not hesitate to write my congressman or speak my peace. Remembering that day has put into prospective how much it changed me. But, at the same time it reminds me of what was lost; citizens, freedom and innocence.
Here is a prayer for America that I pray from time to time. It makes me feel better and I feel like I am helping. God please bless our country again. Let us see our errors and benefit from our good works. Give us a strong voice and wisdom to work with challenges that come our way. Protect our soldiers. And, please watch over us and show us your grace, Amen.