Friday, September 10, 2010

September 11, 2001

I was 30 years old and on my way to a divorce. I was living alone in an apartment in Kennett Square and getting ready to embark on a month long trip to Italy. I was planning on taking a break from my life and go somewhere I had always dreamed of going. That was my plan the morning of September 11, 2001. It was such a beautiful day. I remember distinctly how blue the sky was that day and how there was just enough of a coolness in the air to key you into the fact that fall was on its way.

I spent many of my mornings the same way back in those days. I would get up around 7:30am, turn on The Today Show and by 8:30am I was on the phone with my friend Jen. On September 11, as Jen and I chatted about our plans for the day, the television screen broke to shot of one of the Twin Towers with smoke billowing out of it. The "breaking news" across the bottom of the screen said "small plane crashes into World Trade Center". I asked Jen if she was watching and she said yes. I remember wondering how that happens. How a pilot can misread where they are supposed to be going and end up hitting a building? I needed to get going so I said goodbye and we hung up the phone.

I had left the room for a few minutes but walked back in at about 9:03am and watched the 2nd plane hit the South Tower. I heard the female caller talking to Matt Lauer scream that a 747 just hit the South Tower and I heard Matt Lauer admonish her for speculating a plane that big has just passed by her window.

I remember just being confused. Shocked but confused. I called Jen. "Are you still watching?" I asked. "No." she said. I told her to turn it back on that a second plane had hit the second building. And then I said "The smoke from the first one must had blocked the view of the second one." I really believed that. Because, in my pre-9/11 world, the idea that not only 1 person, but 2 people would purposefully run planes into buildings was outside of anything I could ever imagine.

A little while later, it was the Pentagon, then a field in Western Pennsylvania. And all of a sudden, the world was a different place.

I remember watching the Towers fall and then walking outside. The sky was so blue and it was so quiet. And I thought, "There's no where to hide. What are they going to do to us?" And I remember thinking that much of my life would be defined by what happen before that minute and what happened after.

And then I learned that not only 2 people would run planes into buildings but entire groups of people would run planes into buildings in an attempt to bring Americans to their knees. And it backfired. I have never been more proud to be an American than I was in the days, weeks and months after 9/11.

And I will never forget.