I thought about writing my 9/11 story. I even got a few sentences into it, but it just didn’t feel right. It was going to be long – too long, I thought, and frankly, as compared to the stories and experiences of others, my story didn’t deserve that many words. However, today I had no desire to write about anything other than 9/11.
What to say?
I was about ready to call it quits when I decided to pop onto my blog to check out a couple favorites. I noticed a very brief (and most kind) comment to my most recent post from Psycho Dad. Seeing as how he took the time to leave me a nice comment, I popped over to his site, and read his entry for today.
It seems that he watched the entire horror unfold from Liberty State Park, which is to say he was up close, and right in the spot where survivors were arriving on the flotilla of boats that showed up to take people off Manhattan. His story clearly was worth more words than mine, but he made a conscious decision to tell it all in three very short paragraphs. He had exactly the right idea.
With that said, and with a tip of the hat to Psycho Dad, here is my story.
As I was driving to work, I heard on the radio that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I had just entered onto Route 78, heading away from the City. I looked in my rearview mirror, and I saw smoke billowing from the North Tower. I couldn’t believe my eyes. At that point, like everyone else, I thought it was a terrible accident. A few miles later, the second plane hit.
Knowing instantly that this had to be the work of terrorists, I looked at my watch to note the date, for I knew that civilization had just taken a sharp turn. I knew that, from that moment on, September 11, 2001 would divide modern history into two parts – Pre-September 11th and Post-September 11th.
At work a dozen or so of us gathered before a large television in a conference room. No one spoke. Without warning, the first building came down. There were reports of the Pentagon having been hit, and it was also reported that there were several unaccounted planes in the sky, possibly on their way to the White House or the Capitol. My stomach knotted, as I was absolutely certain that, by this time, someone must have had to issue an order to shoot down an American passenger plane if it appeared to be headed to Washington.
Then the second building came down. Horror, shock, numbness, disbelief, fear, anger – I felt them all at once.
Everyone headed for home, still not knowing whether there were more lunatics in the sky headed our way. I couldn’t get TJ on the phone for several hours, and I worked hard to convince myself that on this day, of all days, she surely would not be in New York. As it turned out, she was, but she managed to get out of the City safely.
As I turned east onto my street, I looked toward the spot where we could always see the tops of the Towers.
They were gone. Just, gone. All that was left was a huge plume of ugly smoke.
Welcome to Post-September 11th.