Monday, September 12, 2011


It has been ten years.  I'm already starting to forget some of the details of September 11, 2001, so here's my story. 

Steve and I had been married a year and a half, and he was halfway through his PhD program at Penn State University.  My high school class had just had its 5-year reunion, and I remember being jealous of my classmates with flashy jobs in NYC.  I was working for a small company doing medical credentials verification, but on September 10 (the day before) the company went through a round of layoffs so I was sleeping in at home on this particular Tuesday morning.  Steve called from the lab to ask me if I had heard what was happening, and I had no idea.  I turned on the TV and the cable was out, so I turned on the clock radio to hear one of my morning show guys saying, "There it goes, the South tower is falling."  I used our dial-up modem to pull up CNN's website, which I rarely followed before then.  At some point the cable came back on and I was able to watch the footage on TV.  I was suddenly un-jealous of my New Yorker friends and it made me appreciate living in rural Pennsylvania.  Yes, then the news broke about Flight 93 crashing nearby in Somerset County and I remember watching the map showing the locations of the rest of the airborne planes.  The best way to describe my general feeling is numb as I sat on our futon and watched the footage all day.  I don't remember crying, although I probably did.  I still tear up when I hear the many accounts of bravery and heroism.  I remember making phone calls and hearing, "All circuits are busy," as people checked in with their loved ones. I remember feeling horrified watching footage of people jumping from the towers.  I don't remember being scared, partly because we were living out in the middle of nowhere (away from potential targets), but also because I believe in a God who is sovereign, who was and is in control of the situation despite it seeming like chaos.  I do still feel nervous when I'm in DC and see low-flying airliners near the Mall (landing dutifully at Reagan airport). 

I remember the immediate outpouring of patriotism, American flags everywhere - on cars, on bridges, on crane hooks, everywhere.  Signs saying "God Bless America" were also prevalent, but also a church in Berkeley Springs, WV who put "Bless God, America" on their sign.  The weekend following September 11 we drove down to visit my parents in Virginia, joined by my second cousin, Susan, who was living in the District, working as an aide to the Senate minority leader at the time.  It was a pretty snazzy position on paper, but after being evacuated on (and probably living in fear after) 9/11, and then having to evacuate and go on antibiotics during the anthrax attacks a week later, I think she and her husband are happy being farmers in Minnesota now.  Gradually the car flags grew tattered, the red ink on flag magnets faded, and people went back to their state of normalcy, as suggested by our president. Plenty has changed since 2001, especially in the airline industry. (Remember greeting arriving passengers at the gate?)  Life goes on, but we will never forget.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

You wrote beautifully about 9/11. We spent that night with your folks and my parents were there too. I don't think your Mom will ever forget she only fixed 4 pork chops for 6 people. We had plenty of food just a funny thing. Your Dad was trying to find out the plane pilot names, very worried. We could see the smoke at the Pentegon from Susan & Tim's apartment and I really remember how DC was a crazy driving town and that day everyone went at the speed limit with the best manners ever just so they could all get home to family safely.
Now I could hardly pay attention to all the attention give to the 10th anniversary. Not sure that 10 was different than the 1st. Glad the Lord our God is part of my life and we can live each day with hime at our side.