Yes, it is!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I'll Never Forget

I'll never forget where I was and what I was doing on the morning of September 11, 2001.  At that time, I was telecommuting for the company that was I employed with.  My morning routine after waking up included turning on my work computer, taking my dog outside while my computer booted up, then coming back and turning on Good Morning America.  I was still living in Florida at the time and my then-fiance (now husband) had just been deployed to Egypt.
The morning started out as a beautiful September day in Florida.  I had my TV tuned to Good Morning America (GMA) while I worked at the desktop.  Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson were still anchoring GMA at the time.  Since we were on Eastern time, GMA was shown live.  I remember a few minutes before the broadcast was to come to a close that morning, Charles and Diane came back on with breaking news that it appeared that a small plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.  My eyes moved away from my work to the TV.  At that time, there was speculation that it was an isolated incident.  Then, just a few minutes after 9:00, as I sat there watching the TV, I noticed in the background behind Charles and Diane a plane fly into the other tower.  I knew at that very moment that this was no accident and that the WTC towers were under attack.  Again.  I immediately called somebody in the personnel department at work.  I told her to turn on the TV because the WTC towers were on fire. Within minutes, news hit the airwaves that a third plane had been flown into the Pentagon and that another plane was currently unaccounted for.  Soon afterward, that 4th plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.  I was in disbelief.  I could not take my focus off of the TV.  I was scared.  Scared for the many people who I was certain had perished.  Scared for Tim because I was not sure where he was at that moment.  And most of all, I was scared for our country.  I also became angry.  Angry at the senselessness of the attacks.  Angry that nobody caught onto the terrorists' plans.  Anger at the profound loss of life.
MacDill Air Force base, where Tim was stationed at that time, was put on immediate lockdown.  I was taking a class at the local university.  The university at that time was embroiled in a well-known case involving a professor who was linked to a terrorist group.  Because of that, I was a little anxious about the safety at the university.  Thankfully, everyone was released from classes and the campus was closed for the remainder of the day.
After the initial shock of the attacks wore off, I started to worry about Tim and his fellow airmen.  He had left the states, in a military cargo jet, from Dover just the day before the attacks. All I could do was pray for their safety and that I would hear from him soon.  Tim's mother called me the next morning, asking if I heard from Tim.  I had not. Tim's middle brother had been stranded in Canada because all flights had been canceled.  When I told Tim's mother that I had not heard from Tim, she immediately broke down crying.  She knew Kevin was okay by now but she was scared for her baby boy.  I finally heard from Tim the following day.  Each person on this deployment had just 4 minutes to call one person each.  Tim had just enough time to let me know that they were safe in Egypt but were not unloading the plane, yet, until they received word about  any changes in plans.  It was possible that everyone would be sent back home to fight war.  When I called Tim's mother to relay the news to her, she immediately cried tears of relief.  By this time, Kevin and his colleagues were able to obtain a rental car for the very long drive back home to Florida.  Needless to say, Tim's mother was very relieved that the 2 sons who had traveled out of the country were safe. 
A few days after Tim's initial call, I received another call from him.  This time, he was able to talk a little longer and update about the deployment.  They were going to keep the mission going in Egypt but I had to prepare for the possibility that our wedding plans may change.  Since security on all the military bases was drastically increased, we may not even be able to get married at the base chapel.  So we discussed the possibility of going to the courthouse to get married in case Tim was sent to war upon his return from Egypt.  I just had to believe that everything would work out.  I continued with the original wedding plans.  I had to include a note inside each invitation informing of a possible sudden change in plans. Thankfully, Tim and I were able to keep our original wedding plans.  However, we were unable to travel for a honeymoon.  The Air Force had imposed a travel restriction and Tim had to be able to arrive at base within 2 hours.  So, we just stayed for a couple of days at a nice hotel at a local beach.  I admit that I had some anger toward those hijackers for causing such disruption in our lives.  But how selfish that was when so many lives were lost and so many families were broken up on that previous 9/11.  I should have been thankful that Tim was alive and well and that we were able to even have the wedding. 
I will never forget the thousands of images that were shown on TV during the ensuing days and weeks following 9/11.  I will never forget where I was when it happened.  Or what I was doing.  I'll never forget watching that second plane, in the background behind Charles and Diane, crash into that tower.  I'll never forget the images of people, so desperate, jumping out of windows to their ultimate demise.  I can't really tell you which images are more disturbing. It was difficult to sleep.  But most of all, I'll never forget the unspeakable pain that our nation experienced on that day, September 11, 2001.

No comments: