That Day

I was in my office, a steaming cup of coffee warming my hands. The background noise was National Public Radio's morning news, as it was every day. My desk faced the windows. It was a bright blue day.

I'd been chatting with one of my staff, a friend, who had just disappeared from my doorway. I turned back to something on my computer. I was wearing black pants and a blue blouse; an odd thing to remember.

My phone rang, it was my mother. She said I needed to find a TV right away. They were showing a plane flying into one of the World Trade Center buildings in New York City.

a small plane? like a little private jet?

no, a commercial airliner.

oh my God, are you sure? it has to be an accident... it's a horrible accident. but wait, how could that be an accident? it can't be an accident.

My friend reappeared in my doorway.

have you heard?


News came of the second plane. Then another one. Then another one. With each attack a low level panic grew. How many cities? How long will this go on? Has a war started on our soil? Will other forms of attack be unleashed in the next hours and days - chemicals, bombs, violent groups of men (who?) storming into our cities to do - what exactly?

New York City. Washington, DC. - oh God those people...

Nashville? Surely not a priority target, I said to myself. We are safe here?

As that longest of days wore on, I picked up the phone a few times to call my daughter's school but didn't. They would call me if they were sending children home. I'm sure it's fine. Nashville can't be very high on the list.

Who's list is this?


Almost three weeks later, I was in my backyard with the dog when I heard the steady hum of an engine. Blinking into the sun, I saw a single airplane moving slowly and steadily across the sky. I wiped away a tear, looking up at the first plane I'd seen since America was attacked. I watched it until I could no longer see it, wondering if the people on board were frightened.

Sulking in Illinois wrote an account that captures how surreal and devastating being there in NYC was on 9-11.


Unknown said...

Great reflection and memories. I can't stop reading about it--years later I'm addicted to it. I didn't work for the airline industry at the time it happened, but a lot of my coworkers were employeed here and have such a different memory of it. I listen to their stories and it breaks my heart all over again. It's just so sad (and that word isn't even strong enough to describe it).

S said...

it breaks my heart.

this was so poignant.

Unknown said...

Less than 3 months previous to this day, in 2001, the company I had worked for, where I was the Senior Technical Manager, had gone into receivership. Suddenly, all of the worries I'd been dealing with, the money, the house, the prospects for the future at my age, all of that shrank to abject insignificance as the enormity of what I was seeing impressed itself on me.

Only later did I come to understand I had watched 3000 people die and in the crashing sound of those buildings as they collapsed, I was hearing the death knell of thousands more.

LeahBear said...

It still makes me cry if I think about it too much, which I do several times a year.

I worked in a high-rise with a view of the Pentagon. I felt the jolt and saw the smoke and wondered where all the government contractors that I worked with were.

Michelle Smiles said...

I was on vacation and felt so helpless that I couldn't get in touch with friends and family just to reassure each other all was well (the circuits were overloaded and I couldn't get through for hours).

9/11 is my birthday and the 1 yr anniversary was my 30th. I must say that being all depressed about turning 30 seemed awfully petty in the face of what others were remembering that day so it kept me from being glum about that milestone.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for visiting my tribute. Your memories of the day are much like mine, like many of ours, full of horror and disbelief that the day could unfold as it did. I was watching news coverage of the first plane striking when the next plane came from the side of the screen, the moment when we all knew this couldn't be an accident. I listened to the rest of the day on the radio at work wondering, too, could it happen in Washington state where I was living? Your last part about seeing the first plane after, after that day, after it was all different, touches me. I still feel that way sometimes even now, you know? Kind of vulnerable-like. Thank you for putting your thoughts and memories in words. Today I needed to read this. Thank you.

United Studies said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! I think I'll be back to read yours.

I enjoyed reading your take on Sept. 11. It is interesting to read how it affected different people. Even though we are all different, we all felt the same emotions.

Sarahviz said...

In a strange way, to me, it's comforting to read others' words of where they where and what they were doing on that dreadful day.

It connects us.

MixMom said...

Thank you for sharing your experience.
Even though it is painful, I never want to forget the feeling from that day...never forget.

Another Mom on the Internet said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Such a terrible day in our nations history.

I read how odd it was not to hear any airplanes those days that followed (at the time we lived near the airport).

I will never forget!

Anonymous said...

I was listening to NPR that morning, too. So, when my students asked who could do such a thing, I knew immediately and with certainty. "A man in Afghanistan named Bin Laden. And, his supporters, the Taliban."

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

Yeah, it's still tragic and inconceivable.

I will never. ever. forget either.

edbteach said...

Thank you for sharing these links. I have put up a post on my blog about Burgh Baby raising money for a memorial. Maybe she'll get a few more clicks that way.

I also mentioned you. I loved your post about the tuition bill!

I also really related to your recent post about running late, haircuts, no dinner ready, and homework to be done. As a working (outside the home) mom, I was nodding along as I read.

topper said...

I remember that the horror and sadness of Sept 11 united our country in a way I have never seen before. Three days after the planes crashed into our lives, I traveled North thru Ohio to a three day seminar. I remember wondering if I should go. I was afraid. What if something else happened, and I wasn't home with my family. But I went, and it was eerie to be one of the few people traveling that morning on a major interstate highway. Where was everyone?

As I drove, I noticed that almost every vehicle I saw had an American flag flying from the antenna, or pasted in the window. And people seemed to be driving almost slowly, as if to be seen proclaiming their patriotism, and defying the terrorists. A warning. Don't think you can get away with this. We are Americans, and we stick together.

Seven years later, we are a fractured country, split in two by hateful politics. What united us for awhile has torn us apart. I hope that someday we can put things back together again, using common sense and reason, not a tragedy.

Anonymous said...

I am struck by how we ALL thought it was a small plane and an accident.

JCK said...

It is important to reflect. Loved the moment when you wrote about seeing the single plane...

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