Even though ten years have passed, like most of the United States, I will never forget where I was when I heard about the attacks on 9/11/01. For me, I even remember what I was wearing.
I was a sophomore in high school, and it was a game day, so I was in my field hockey uniform. I was with four of my fellow classmates in the auditorium, preparing for a class assembly. The five of us were the class officers; I was the vice president. We were sitting around on the stage going over what each would be discussing the next period when our entire class would fill the seats in front of us. That was when a student from the band class down the hall came in and told us "the World Trade Centers had been bombed". They had been listening to the radio.
For me, my first thought was to a class trip I took 2 years prior, to those very buildings. I even have a picture that I took of Manhattan from the roof of the north tower. As information began to come in, we discovered that it was planes, not bombs, and that the Pentagon had also been hit. Information came to us via the school administrators, who also instructed us not to say anything during the assembly, and to carry on as normal.
I don't remember much of the assembly. I don't even remember if I was able to speak. I just remember being in a total daze. I couldn't stop thinking about a conversation I had with my Dad that morning; he had a crew working at the Pentagon that day. He sold security systems, and one client was the Pentagon. I knew he frequently traveled to visit his clients, and oversaw the work his crews did, but I had no idea if he was there or not when the planes hit. And of course, it was the one day I left my cell phone at home.
Even though the administration tried to keep it quiet until we knew more, news spread quickly throughout the day. I only remember two other parts of that day in school. One - lunch time when I had to stand in line at the pay phones and try to scrounge up change to get in touch with my parents. I was able to talk to my Dad, who's crew, by the grace of God, was stuck in traffic and had not made it to the Pentagon when the plane had hit. He also told me that my Mom was okay too, but because she worked at a hospital that was a back up to the DC area, and they were all instructed to stay (as she was on her way out the door). And even my Grandmother, who was in DC for a luncheon, and was evacuated, was okay too. The second part of the day that I remember was when the principal finally made the announcement during fifth period (I was in geometry) and told the school what happened, and that we would be dismissed early that day.
After that, the bell rang and the halls were total chaos. And then we all heard the intercom system turn on and over the entire school's PA system I was called to the front office. I froze. I couldn't breathe. All I could think was that my Dad went back to the Pentagon and something else had happened. A friend had to hold my arm and walk me towards the office. I will never forget the relief I felt when I saw my Dad standing there. He didn't know we would be dismissed early, but he had come to pick me up from school and take me home. I think my first words were something along the lines of "don't ever do that to me again".
From there we went to pick up my little sister from her elementary school, and then it was home to wait and see when my Mom would be able to leave work (I can't be sure but I think it was later that night). And we all watched the news in disbelief with the rest of the country.
Here we are, ten years later, still fighting that fight. I pray for the victims and their families of those we lost that day, and every day since. I pray for the heroes that have traveled overseas and kept us safe at home every day since. Words can't express my gratitude for people like my husband who, with complete disregard to their own safety, go forward for this cause. May we all remember what they are fighting for, and never forget.