Friday, September 11, 2009

Where you were when the world stopped turnin' on that September day...

(words by Alan Jackson)

It was such a beautiful fall day in Virginia on the outskirts of DC. My parents and I were headed into town to take a tour of the Capital Building. I'd just moved here a few weeks earlier so this was a first for me, too.

Mr. T had called to tell me about the first plane in NYC that had hit the tower. Of course, my first thought was that it was a small commuter plane. When the radio announcer confirmed the second hit I thought, "Uh-oh, someone at the FAA is going to be in big trouble." A terrorist attack never even occurred to me.

A few minutes later the radio announcer screamed that a plane had hit the Pentagon. We felt a rumble and immediately saw the smoke and fire.

I was torn about what to do. Do I go ahead and try to make into the city, or turn around and go home and wait for the kids to come home from school? 17 year old Rachael was tough as nails. She'd be scared - we all were - but I could call her periodically. She could handle her little brothers queries. She was a second mother to him and he'd just as soon have her when a crisis erupts as he would me. However, I soon found out there was no phone service.

I thought about sending my parents home with the car and then I'd metro in to meet Jay, but it was their first visit and they didn't think they could find their way home. I learned later that the metros were shut down anyway, so I would have been stuck with no transportation as well as no way to communicate.

Sitting at home waiting for the kids, (not knowing what information they'd been given at school), we were glued to the television. I'll never forget Tom Brokaw's panicked voice, "There is another plane headed towards Washington. If you're within blocks of the White House you're in iminent danger."

Mr. T's office is 2 blocks from the White House. All I can do is sit and watch the news coverage of everyone scrambling in a hundred different directions. I hope I'll spot him, but of course, I don't.

Calls from 'back home' start trickling into my cell phone. Sonya wants to know "what's happening up there? We're watching the news and now gas prices are soaring to $5.00 per gallon." (To this day I have a very hard time forgiving the gas station owners that price gouged.)

I can't call out, but people can call in! This is good! I give each person that calls in an assignment.

Sonya is to call Mr. T's cell phone and find out if he is okay. I hold my breath until she calls me back and tells me his is safe. He will be home as soon as he knows all the people that work for him are on their way home and that everyone has someplace to go. He might be bringing a car load home with him if any one is afraid of being alone. He'll be home as soon as he can. Don't worry. Yeah, right.

My grandmother job is to call Rachael at school, let her know we've made it safely home, and then call Mr. T's Mom and let her know that we're all okay.

'As soon as he can' ends up being about 6 hours later. 7-year-old Will is huddled safely in his daddy's arms while we watch events unfold.

Life as we knew it is over.

"Daddy, are we going to die?" he asked.

"I don't know." We never lie to our children.

For as much as I've complained about city life and going back home, I am so thankful that I was here. There was never anyplace else that I wanted to be on that day.

What are your memories?


Princess Freckles said...

I hadn't realized you were in DC at the time! I had just started my first year of college and when our class was beginning we only knew of one plane. Not until I was out of class did anyone know what was really going on. It was a terribly scary time. I can't believe its already been 8 years. It feel like much less time has passed.

trash talk said...

Calling my children and husband first just to reach out and hear their voices. I was then glued to the TV, crying all day long and for days afterwards.