We all know what today is, unless you grew up under a rock. Today is the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon. Each year, I think back on that day and I remember it clearly.
Every generation seems to have an event like this. It's just like my parents...they remember exactly where they were when JFK was shot.
I remember where I was when the Challenger shuttle exploded in 1986. I was 13 years old then and in about the 7th grade. We were watching it on TV because it was the first schoolteacher going up into space. No one understood what was happening at first, but then it became abundantly clear what had happened.
As for 9/11, I was at work. I was working for a publishing company at the time, on one of the in-flight magazines for one of the major airlines. I had barely gotten into the office when I got a phone call from my then boyfriend and future husband about a plane hitting one of the buildings of the World Trade Center. I went on CNN.com and indeed there was a breaking story about it.
About that time, there started to be a lot of buzzing around the office as word started to spread quickly. We didn't know what it was, we thought perhaps an accident, no one knew what kind of plane it was or anything. There was so much speculation. I got off the phone and a bunch of us went up to the conference room where someone had turned on the television so we could see what was going on.
I don't remember how much time there was between the first and second plane, but I remember seeing the second plane hit. Once that happened, all of us knew what this was...we were being attacked. I just remember looks of horror around the room but none of us could comprehend the scope of the events that would continue to unfold that day.
A little while after the 2nd plane hit, we were hearing about a low flying plane close to the Pentagon. I knew deep down already what was going to happen, and about 20 minutes later it was confirmed that plane did hit the Pentagon.
At this point we were all terrified, what the hell was going on? What was coming next? Some of us thought we might be bombed somewhere, that this was a declaration of war, we had no idea.
Then we hear about a 4th plane heading to Washington. We knew it was either heading for the White House or the Capitol Building, those were the 2 logical targets there that would strike the most fear, but then the plane crashed into a field. We were confused by this at the time, but later were filled in by what really happened on that flight. (Flight 93)
All this time the news was going from scene to scene to scene, trying to cover everything - it was madness. We went from seeing people jump out of their office windows of the World Trade Center buildings to seeing the Pentagon burning and people running out of there, back to the Trade Center.
I must say, seeing people jump from those buildings to their death is something that is forever burned into my brain. The fire was below them, they knew they had no way out and they chose to jump. It makes my heart ache even thinking of it now, 12 years later.
The only thing worse, was when those towers fell. We knew that there were still thousands of people in those buildings, and there was nothing to be done for them. We stood in that conference room clinging to each other and crying for those people as one tower fell, then the other.
We all watched the coverage for days. We were seeking answers, no one knew who did it, how many died, why that plane crashed in that field, there were so many questions everyone was glued to the TV. For me, seeing New Yorkers walk the streets to get out of that area, covered in the dust from the towers just looking exhausted and disoriented at times just broke my heart.
I don't live in New York, I've never been to New York. I don't know anyone that was there that day or who died that day. I will say this, here in North Carolina it was as if I was there. I felt the same pain as if I were there.
All Americans did no matter where we lived or where we were that day.
Teach your kids about what this day means to us lest we forget the sacrifices made by those on Flight 93, the firefighters and police that were caught in the towers when it went down, and everyone else who died that day.