Monday, September 11, 2006

REMEMBERING 9/11

On the anniversary of such a horrific day, everyone pauses and recalls their 9/11 story. You can't help but think back to exactly where you were when the events took place...

I was working for a political consulting firm in DC. I remember as I drove to work listening to the radio and hearing about a "small plane, perhaps a helicopter" hitting the Towers. It was odd and everyone was quite confused.

Not understanding yet what had happened, I thought to myself if our day's plans would be changed. My boss and I were to be in NYC for a presentation to Michael Bloomberg, who was running for mayor at the time. We had been working for him for months doing focus groups, surveys, etc. That morning we were going to fly up and give him the latest research results.

When I got to work, some of us grabbed our coffee and headed to the conference room. My boss came around that time too and he wasn't yet very concerned. He was more concerned if we had our presentation ready! He still thought we were headed to NYC.

Soon we realized this was a much more serious situation but we didn't realize how close to home it would be coming.

Our office was in the tallest building in that area and was just minutes from the Pentagon (which is also just minutes from my house). I can't recall the exact timing but I just remember our office getting an emergency evacuation from the authorities. Everyone else left but my boss and I hung in so we could work more. Yes I know, crazy! But I was a workaholic and so was he...and we didn't quite acknowledge the events going on around us.

As I recall, the FBI then alerted us that a plane was headed our direction and we had to leave NOW. It was crazy outside. Traffic was bumper to bumper and everyone was just freaking out thinking we were going to be hit any minute. It was so bizarre. You would hear a plane roar overhead and everyone would stick their head out their window to see what was going on. What was that? Is that "the" plane? Are we about to be hit?

I made it home and then didn't know what to do. I took my dog on a walk and there was this eerie feeling everywhere. Very few people were outside and it was as though danger was just around the corner. It was such a bizarre sensation. There was another family outside who was feeling the same way. We quickly bonded as we talked about our mornings and what was ahead of us. As we talked a plane roared overhead in the eerie silence. I remember all of us looking up and very quietly watching the plane. What was that? It turned out to be a fighter jet (and many more after that) that was trying to protect the airways but each time we heard it, we froze.

After being glued to the TV all day, a few friends and I headed to the Capitol for a candlelight vigil that night. It was intense, beautiful, frightening, extremely sad...and so emotional. People from all walks of life gathered around and sang songs, lit candles, and held hands. It was incredible.

Life didn't return to normal in that area for quite a long time. Every day as I drove to and from work, I passed the Pentagon and was harshly reminded of what happened. I had been dating an FBI agent and he was very involved with the post-attack work at the Pentagon. Needless to say, he experienced things on a daily basis that were beyond words during that process. He couldn't say much but he didn't need too.

And all that "research" we did for Bloomberg and other politicians? At that point, who in the world cared which words or phrases worked with the voters? It was so irrelevant now. It seemed so petty and political, and that certainly wasn't the focus as our country tried to come together. It completely changed the course of our company for quite some time.

Just writing this all down brings back such vivid memories. Such a long time ago...but quite honestly, anything "pre Max" seems like a LONG time ago. I can't imagine if he had been alive that day and away from me at the hospital or in school. I would have been so incredibly desperate to get to him. What would have happened if he had been separated from his caregiver/teacher/nurse? What if someone didn't know he cannot eat orally or that he MUST have his medications at particular times? What about his oxygen? Would we have run out and his little body would have been deprived? I can't imagine what parents were feeling that day...especially parents with special needs children. It must have been absolutely frightening.

Well speaking of special needs, Maxwell is in his little chair beside my desk and he looks like he is about to fall asleep, so I best get the oxygen ready.

As we remember our emotional stories from 9/11, let us not forget the harsh lessons of that tragic day. And let us not forget the fight we still have ahead of us. The terrorist war is not over and we must remain vigilant.

7 comments:

Momof2 said...

My son was about 3 1/2 that day. He was born 3 months premature, but was almost all caught up by that age. He was in speech therapy at the time and in fact, had an appointment that day. I believe we were watching Blue's Clues when my husband called from work and told me to flip over to the news. I took my son to his speech therapy that day around 11, and still couldn't comprehend what was going on. The therapists office had a TV in the waiting area and I sat and watched that and talked to the other Moms who were there. I remember being worried that my son would see too much on TV and become frightened, so I limited my veiwing to nap times for the next few days.

Mark and Jaye said...

My husband is a Sonar Tech aboard a Trident Submarine...on Sept 11th I was 12 days away from giving birth to our last child..a boy...
We didn't live on base, so my husband was doing all he could to get on base...but it was esential personel only...which meant at that time, only those already on base...the gates were shut..and all the subs in port headed out to sea to hide. My husband felt powerless. What to do? He wasn't with the sub...with his shipmates who were able to get onboard in that small window of time they had to get aboard. We went to the beach and watched the subs leave. I have a picture on my mantle that I will never take down. It is of our then three year old daughter...blonde curly hair gently blowing in the wind, playing with the rocks on the beach...in the background...a sub...
We went to give blood...but the Red Cross was soooo inundated with volunteers (military town!!) that they merely took our name and blood type in case they needed more. The Flag appeared on every home, on every car..and our community of Submarines and surface Navy grew very close. What a day..what a month...what five years....
Jaye Greene

Pearl said...

Wow, Amy. Reading your account brings back so many memories. I was in Washington, too, working for a tech company at the time. We had a conference room with a movie theatre-sized screen. I can still recall the absolute silence as the entire staff crowded into the small room to watch the TV coverage. And the moans of shock and grief as we watched the first tower fall. It was surreal. My stepkids were in grade school at the time very near Dulles airport, and I recall frantically trying to get hold of my husband or their mother to go pick them up. The local radio was reporting a "rogue aircraft circling Dulles airport" and there was speculation that it would be shot down. All I could think of was it hitting their school. It was a nightmare, but still couldn't possibly have rivaled the one people were living in New York at that very same moment.

It saddens me that my daughter, who wasn't yet a glimmer in my eye, will grow up in a world where the threat of terrorist attacks is an everyday reality. But it also gives me hope to think that the next generation will find a way to come to terms with the mess they have inherited and to overcome all the hatred that has caused so many people so much grief. Thank you for reminding us to stop and think about what we have lost collectively, and what we still have left to fight for.

CrystalandEva said...

Amy, Your story made me cry. I remember so much about that day and I live near Chicago and they were worried about something happening here. I remember listening to the radio on my way to work after watching the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower of the WTC. The station i was listening to was in the Sears Tower and they were worried something would happen there and they closed it down and the station went dead. I felt like it was some strange movie i was in. I only had Alex at the time and he was 5 and just started Kindergarten when it all happened and he at first didnt relize it was not a tv show and I had to tell him what was going on. When I got to work we had a tv on in our store and we even closed soon after we opened to be with our families. It was a sad day for America and a day I will NEVER forget.
God bless you all!!
Crystal mom to Alex (10), Bailey (3) and Eva (17 month CHARGEr)

RebeccaA said...

Amy,

On that day my husband was already up and saw much of the scene in NYC live on TV as we were in Seattle, WA. Bless his heart, he let me sleep a little longer before waking me up with the news.

At the time I was pregant with Cameron - but blissfully happy at that point as we hadn't had any ultrasounds yet. That happened later that month - on 9/26. If fact our ultrasound that day became my own personal "9/11". Little did we know how our lives would change at the time.

Remember how all the churches were open after that and services were fuller than usual? We got such a huge wake up call about the fragile nature of life and how we never know when our time on earth will be up. It's too bad that only a few months later people got "back to their lives" and attendence returned to pre-9/11 levels.

Today was Cameron's first day of preschool and Nathan's day of homeschooling (first grade). I thought it would nice to include the boys in raising the flag - we recently put up a small flag pole in the front yard. Nathan recently joined Cub Scouts so when I told him we were going to put up the flag for 9-11 he ran to put on his uniform. Then he had Cameron repeat the Pledge of Allegience after him as we raised the flag.

I pray we never forget what happened and honor those who gave their lives attempting to save all who found themselves in harms way that day merely because they were in the United States. We must continue to do the right thing.

Thanks for your post Amy.
God Bless America!

kathryn biel said...

We were in France on our honeymoon, which was 6 hours ahead. We had been on a very early morning train from Nice back up to Paris. We had an awful time getting to our hotel, and had been very discouraged and thought that WE were having a bad day! We finally got checked into our hotel just before 3pm (9 EST), and were a little bummed that once again, the only english language was CNN. They were covering the 1st plane. I thought, what jerk couldn't see the big building in front of him. My new husband went out to check out the neighborhood, and I watched live in horror as the 2nd plane hit. I had 2 cousins who worked in Manhatten (1 in the South tower), and the rest of the day was spent trying to get in touch with family (the phone lines to NY were horrible). The next day we went to Sacre Coeur in Montmarte and lit candles for the victims. We flew back to the US on 9/15, on one of the 1st flights back into JFK. It was a VERY nervewracking flight, but I told my husband, and e-mailed my parents before we left that if this plane didn't make it, I was so happy to have married the love of my life. We just celebrated 5 happy years, and have a beautiful 2 1/2 year old son.

Kate Biel

elle said...

i was asleep and then went to school as the enws was all coming through would of been late at nite ur time i just remember thinking wow wat the hell