My 9-11 Story

I begin this new blog with my 9-11 story. It’s nothing spectacular, nothing noble, but it’s the story that belongs to me.

I was on my way to work at KinderCare in Murfreesboro. I was pulling into the parking lot at a little before 8:00 AM (Central Time) and there was a “breaking news” report on the radio that said a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. I remember thinking, “oh, that poor pilot, must’ve gotten off course somehow.” Then I went inside and got busy with my class of 3-year-olds.

Since it was still summer and fairly hot outside during the late morning and afternoon, we had gotten in the habit of taking our playground time earlier in the morning, around 9:30. Not long after we went outside, the Assistant Director, Melanie, came outside and pulled me aside (our Director was on medical leave because of a miscarriage). She said that parents had been calling her almost non-stop to let her know what was going on in New York and Washington. Reports were varied and sketchy, exaggerated and terrifying; by this time, both towers had fallen and the Pentagon had been hit, but she had also been told “all of Washington is on fire” and “New York is in shambles.” I stood outside on that playground, not knowing what to do, terrified of every noise and plane flying overhead and child’s squeal. Eventually, I gathered my class and went back inside. Everyone had their radios on softly, and the teachers listened to the news while the children played in the classrooms. Some time later, the corporate office sent an email asking centers to turn off all radios, in case the children might hear something. I got periodic updates from Tony via cell phone, since he worked for the local newspaper and everyone there was pretty much gathered around the television all morning. He asked me if I had seen the towers fall; when I said no, he warned me that it was horrifying. On my lunch break, I went home and turned on the television. He was right.

Back at work, the afternoon crept along, although many parents did come to pick up their children early as businesses closed and people wanting nothing more than to be near those they loved most. Melanie’s father lived and worked in Manhattan, and I have a lot of admiration for how she was able to hold things together during this time when she was wondering whether her Dad was okay (as it turned out, he was one of the thousands who left their offices, walked calmly and orderly to one of the bridges, and crossed the river to safety).

At home that night, we barely ate, barely spoke, just stared at the footage and watched the towers falling over and over. We heard President Bush’s speech, saw smoke pouring from the Pentagon, and were appalled at the pile of twisted metal laying in a field in Pennsylvania. I was worried for my nephew, who was a member of the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; I was envisioning him being deployed at any moment.

As the days went on and more details of the attacks were revealed, I experienced a broad range of emotions: horror, hope, anger, relief, fear, pride, hatred, faith. It was a beautiful thing to see how quickly our nation unified against a common enemy with love for our country. I had never seen such widespread patriotism, and have not seen it since. But it was a wonderful thing to be a part of during the worst attack on American soil.

Part of my healing process, as is usually the case, was creating art. I made a scrapbook of photos of patriotic displays from around town during those first few weeks, paired with patriotic song lyrics. I also made us each a flag pin with the words “A country torn apart; a nation bound together. We will not forget.” Every year on Patriot Day, we look at this book and wear our pins, and remember.

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1 thought on “My 9-11 Story”

  1. That was such a surreal day when we didn’t know a lot through the day but when we got home we digested everything we could in order to find out everything we could. On that day we were changed forever.

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