There has been a lot of looking back and analysis about Sept 11, 2001 latley since this is the 5 year anniversary of that sad and tragic day. I too look back and think, how far have we come? Are we any better off now? How does a country strategize to defend its citizens against such a non-typical sort-of-military orgainzation? When will the next one be? What should we be doing that we’re not? How on earth does anything happen in our government? I don’t have the answers to those questions and I don’t think anyone does. History only makes sense decades later. So instead, I’ll do what everyone else is doing today, share where I was when the attack happened:
I had left the house about the time it started. I didn’t have the radio on at home because I was still living with my parents at the time and didn’t want to wake anyone up. I listened to CDs on the drive to work in the car. I did think traffic was lighter than normal, but I didn’t see any reason why. I got in and quickly realized something was wrong before I evern got to my cube. I saw everyone in the conference room around a TV that had a coat hanger in the back for an antenna. The first plane had just hit the first tower about 15 minutes ago. Everyone was stunned. No one could fathom why or how this was happening. The thought at the time was that this was an accident. We all watched in silence as the news people tried to make sense of it and explain it all. They didn’t know any more than we did at that point they just had video. Then I went to my computer and swithced it on and soon I heard that the second one had hit. This clearly was no accident. It was unbelievable though, and no one knew who was doing this or why yet.
I went back to the conference room with even more awe and disbelief. No one really had much to say. No one knew what to say. I was confused about everything and scared all at the same time. I went back to my cube again and tried looking up stuff on the net, as other people were too. Some sites weren’t even updated yet, they didn’t say anything was wrong. That was useless. I called home, my folks knew, but no one was doing anything because we couldn’t do anything but watch. We don’t have family in NY so I am not sure it hit as hard with us. I tried to IM a few of my friends in NYC. I didn’t get them because they were obviously busy with the immediacy of what was happening right there in front of them. Later I found out that Larry had slept through it all and awoke later that afternoon to 100 IM messages on his screen asking if he was ok from all the swing people across the country, and later I found Nando was ok too. Then I called my boyfriend at the time and asked what had happened to cause this and why it was happening, because he was the brainy economist reading type that usually had an answer to everything, and instead I got the answer of “what does it look like just happened?” and he was crying. After he said that he just hung up. Later he would make fun of me for not listening to the news that morning in my car or at home. Like I was irresponsible because I didn’t listen to NPR every morning like he did. (Since then I have equally been picked on FOR listening to NPR because another person felt it was a left wing source of news the democrats use to skew public opinion. You just can’t win.)
We hung around the office till about 11am watching the TV and hearing about potential plots to hit the sears tower in Chicago and LAX. We heard that the planes all over the US were grounded and occasionally they would find one mising and say there was another AWOL plane that was hijacked. But none of them after the pentagon hit and the flight 93 crashed were hijacked. Then they said we should all go home, no business would be able to get done today, so its better that we just go home to our families. And I did. I drove home still in a daze of “why?”, “how?” and “Will there be more?” and I sat in front of the TV in with my parents and brother. We’re a pretty news hungry family so we watched Peter Jennings in a feat of Jack Bauer-like adrenaline and sleeplessness, stay on air for almost a whole 24 hr day. We maybe went to sleep around 1am that night staying up to hear all the analysis and information. Peter Jennings would almost loose it to tears from time to time but overall he was the best face to see in a time like that. He was always calm and concise and had something real and relevant to say. I had so much respect for his work before that and after this event it was even more. We ended up watching him and the shows they did all that week.
There weren’t any planes flying either since all airplanes were grounded. It was eerie for that week. The nights were completley silent. Then you would hear one and realize it was a military plane. Over our own home! In our own country, patrolling. Because we lived outside Chicago. Some were jets most were helecopters.