Sunday, September 10, 2006

Do you remember when?

That's the question that a lot of us that have had babies in the last few years are going to get down the road when they learn about September 11, 2001 in their U.S. History classes in high school. I compare it to us asking our parents, "Do you remember when JFK was assassinated?"

And the answer is, yes, I remember when, and I will never forget, as I'm sure a lot of us never will.

September 11, 2001

I had been working with my company for about six months. I had just started adjusting field claims and had just been working from home for about a week. September 11 could have been any ordinary day...I woke up, ate breakfast, booted up my computer, checked the fax machine for new claims, and was sitting at the table checking my email when P called.

P: "Hey, a plane hit the World Trade Center!"
E: "Really? Oh, my God, that's terrible. What happened? Was it a big plane? A small plane?"
P: "I don't know. They think it was a communication problem. I'll let you know if I hear anything else."
E: "Okay, I'm going to go walk Katie."

At this point, I'm thinking it was a fluke, an accident, and nothing to be worried about, so I go walk Katie. I never imagined I'd come back to one of the worst days in American history.

When I walked back in the house, I don't remember what exactly happened after that, but I remember talking to P on the phone again and finding out that a second plane had hit the second tower and that it was no accident. No fluke. And it was no small plane either. They were jets. BIG JETS. I turned on CNN, and pretty much CNN stayed on at our house for about the next week solid. The Pentagon was hit. Another plane crashed somewhere in Pennsylvania. All air traffic was closed indefinitely. Then the towers collapsed.

I remember feeling numb for the entire day. I remember feeling so sad. But most of all, I remember feeling so scared. NO ONE KNEW WHAT HAPPENED OR WHO WAS BEHIND IT. No one knew if it was over. No one knew how many people had been killed. No one knew anything.

P's company closed their office early that day, so he came home that day to watch television and be sad and scared with me, but I had an appointment that day that I couldn't cancel. My company didn't close since most employees were virtual. So off I went around 2:30 to drive to my appointment.

There were no cars on the streets. It was very quiet. The radios were all talk and no music. I remember thinking to myself, "Is this what it feels like when your country is attacked? Is this what they felt like after Pearl Harbor? After Nagasaki? After Hiroshima?" It was very weird, like something out of a movie, except it was real. And another irrational thought that I had was that Dallas was next...all I knew was that they were attacking major cities and even though air traffic was closed, who knew if there was going to be some other kind of attack? Bombs? What was coming next?

And that night the Dallas skies, which were normally lit up like a Christmas tree, were dark and quiet, and would stay that way for days, almost as if in observance of the terrible loss our country suffered that day.

I guess I was naive until that day, because I never really truly realized the extent of the hatred that the Islam extremists responsible for the attacks felt for Americans and our way of life until then. Now my eyes are wide open.

Anyway, it was a sad day for me and for all Americans. Even though I did not personally know anyone that died in the attacks, it was a heartbreaking and sad day for me. It will be sad tomorrow as we all reflect and remember.

And I hate that one day my daughter is going to have to learn about it and will ask me, "Why, Mommy? Why do they hate us so much?"

I am sad for that day because I will have no answer for her. How can you explain something that you don't understand yourself?


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