There probably aren't too many people that have forgotten where they were and what they were doing 8 years ago today. The day that changed everything for a lot of people. Not just Americans. A day that will live on in infamy like no other in my lifetime (up to now). I remember it very clearly....
I ride a bus to DC for work every day. I work across from the White House. I was wearing a black shirt with a long gray and black skirt. I was listening to my usual morning talk radio with my headphones. We turned onto K Street and it went to commercial. I decided to just pack everything up and get ready as my stop was coming up in a few blocks. I got off the bus and walked the 2 blocks to my building. I set my stuff down in my cubicle and turned on my computer and my work phone. My (then) husband called me to ask if I had heard the news. What news? He proceeded to tell me that a plane crashed into one of the Twin Towers and they don't think it was an accident. WTF? Other office workers were starting to arrive and some had heard and some had not. Then came the news of a second plane hitting the other Tower. I was in shock. I didn't know what to make of it. I told my (then) husband that it must have been some sort of "inside job". Terrorists never crossed my mind. The only thing I could come up with is that the pilots intentionally flew into the buildings.
There was a young worker that had a hand held radio and she took it over to the window to try and get a better signal to hear what was going on. This was before we streamed any of the news channels from our computers. As she was standing there, she said, "hey, there's a plane". I went to look and by the time I got over to the window there was only smoke rising into the sky. Then came word that the Pentagon had been hit. We were under attack. The White House is RIGHT THERE...what if they miss and hit our building? Needless to say, we soon got word that the building (and DC) were shutting down...get out now. My (then) mother in law worked here also. She offered 2 girls from her office a ride home and me. We could barely get out of the garage. Every road was bumper to bumper. We barely moved. We had the radio on. Every station was covering the story. My head was spinning...I wanted out of this city and to be home. Trying to make a phone call was impossible. I needed to let my (then) husband know I was ok. I needed to call my Dad and my mother...all impossible. We were hearing all sorts of crazy things on the radio...the Washington Monument had been hit, the IMF/World Bank had been hit. All erroneous but scary nonetheless when we first heard it. We started talking about how terrible it would be if the buildings fell. I finally got through to my dad to let him know I was ok. I started crying as soon as I heard his voice. He was such a comfort to me at that horrible time. I felt trapped by the car and I just wanted to be home. Talking to my dad made me feel safe for just those few minutes. He assured me the buildings would not fall. He told me to be strong and to call him when I got home. We listened to the buildings fall over the radio. We all cried. How could someone do this to all those people? We listened to reports from the Pentagon about fires and people running out of the building.
It took us 6 hours to get home. I sat on the couch, glued to the TV. Crying and scared. I had never seen such devastation. I felt sick to my stomach when I heard that people had been jumping out of the buildings to try and save themselves. I saw horrific pictures of ash and blood covered pedestrians. Those images were burned into my head forever. As my sadness grew, so did my anger. Anger at the people that did this. Anger at the people that didn't stop the terrorists from getting on the planes. Anger at the TV for showing these people at their worst hour of suffering. Anger that I couldn't do anything to stop it or make it better for those who were going through it.
I was exhausted and I eventually fell asleep on the couch. When I woke up it was just more of the same. All bad. But then I saw our Congress on the steps of the Capitol, singing together while holding candles. It was amazing and it made me cry all over again. It was time to stand tall. To be proud to be an American. To come together and make things better. To be strong and united. To show resolve. And that's what this country did.
The next day was a somber one. I don't think much work got done in our office. We were numb and emotionally exhausted. On the way in I saw military vehicles parked all through the city. I saw soldiers with guns on street corners. It was something I never imagined I would see in the city that I worked...in America. This was something that was commonplace in countries such as Mexico or Cuba...not here...not in my own back yard. But here it was, right in front of me...Martial Law. Trying to keep me safe, trying to reassure me, trying to ward off evil. I actually flew to visit my dad less than a week after the attacks. I never felt more safe. It took 3 planes to get me there and back (due to all the airport closings), but we got it done and I had a very nice visit with my family. I needed that visit. I needed to be with my family, to hug them and see them and laugh with them. It was some normalcy that I had been lacking since the attacks.
That is just my story. I'm sure everyone has a story about that day. There is so much more to write about the days and weeks following 9/11 but I just wanted to get my feelings and my story out there. It is something that I will always remember.
God Bless America.