"Where were you?" A simple question right? My generation rarely needs further explanation to this before they start recounting the events of September 11, 2001. This day forever changed us as individuals and as Americans.
Where was I? Let me say that my story isn't dramatic, I was far from New York on this day. But it is still my story.
As if it was just yesterday, or maybe just last week - I can still remember every detail of the morning of September 11, 2001. It was the start of "casual week" in my office, as all the key players of the company I worked for were flying to Florida from all over the country for a week of meetings. My brain does this, records every little detail of a significant event, so that no matter what I will not forget.
I was wearing a white, 3/4 length sleeve shirt with yellow strips, wide leg "sailor" style jeans and white keds. My hair was pulled back into a pony tail, and life was pretty good. I was dating a great guy, had a great job, and lived in the greatest country on the planet. I remember sitting at my desk just outside my boss's office and hearing him answer the phone. For some reason, I had looked at the clock just as it changed to 8:55. I heard him say to his wife "Honey, calm down. I am sure it was just an accident. Who would attack the U. S.?" He spoke to her a few more minutes before coming out of his office to tell us that an airplane had just smacked into the side of the World Trade Center. He, myself and several of our co-workers ran down the hall to the work out center and turned on the televisions there. We watched in horror as the building burned and saw people jumping to their death to avoid the flames. We were watching as the second plane slammed into the building during the live coverage. I remember in the days following hearing a statistic that it took a New York news crew the same number of minutes to arrive live on a scene as were the number of minutes between the two planes hitting. I remember several times my boss told us "We should just get back to work, this has to be a mistake. It just has to." I remember thinking that he was wrong. Even then, before we knew what was happening, I knew.
I remember wanting to go home, to just be with my Mom. I remember hearing the screams and cries coming from another department near mine: Someone had a brother who worked in Tower One. Here we had it, a connection to this, this...tragedy we watched unfold. (Just a note, due to a freak set of circumstances the brother did not make it to work that day, and was safe)
I remember we didn't get a lot accomplished that day.
I remember coming home that night from work and my Mom had made small red, white and blue bows to hand from our rear view mirrors in our cars. Mine stayed almost 9 years until it finlly fell down.
I remember wishing I could have done something more for those people, wishing I could have thanked the brave men and women who gave their lives for others, praying for those who survived.
In the days that followed, I remember seeing the firemen at the major intersections of our city with their boots collecting money to send to their brothers and sisters in New York. I remember watching news recaps of stories of survivors. I remember that the churches were filled to capacity and beyond in the weeks that followed, I remember thinking that nothing would ever be the same again.
As years passed I wished I could have spoken to some of the families of survivors. To know more about these men and women who died in this attack. I wish I could tell Lisa Beamer that the story of her husband's bravery and his phrase of "Let's Roll" would lead to my atheist boss asking about God and salvation almost 5 years after the attack. A door that I would NEVER have thought would open.
That is where I was on September 11, 2001. I will not forget.