Friday, September 12, 2008

Where were you?

Hey, its Flashback Friday once again! FF's are hosted by moí, and anyone and everyone is welcome to link up! If you wrote a post recently that included a reflection of your past, an old photo (whether it's from 20 years ago or last week), link up, baby!

Check this post for graphics and the rules - they're pretty basic. (Just make sure you use a permalink, huh?)

I can't let September 11th pass without note. I won't forget what happened that day to thousands of innocent Americans, even if it means my blog sports two posts in a row of deep, brooding thoughts.

In the fall of 2001 I was 23 years old and working in marketing at an IT company in Milwaukee. I was engaged to the Hubster and finishing my degree at night. I was a busy woman.

On that beautiful sunny morning, I was putting together the last-minute details for a golf outing I was organizing that was to be held the next day. I remember running things out to my car and putting them in the trunk so I wouldn't have to worry about forgetting them later. I remember thinking it was too nice a day to be stuck inside the office, and wishing I'd actually get to golf, too.

Back at my desk, I had the radio on as usual. I've listened to the same morning show for more than 15 years, and that Tuesday morning, the sports guy was on, doing his daily shtick with the morning show guys when news of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center was reported.

Everyone thought it was a crazy accident.

I remember co-workers prairie dogging, saying "Hey, did you hear...?" and "Isn't that crazy?" Someone wondered if the pilot was drunk.

Not too long after, news of the second plane hitting the towers brought them all to my desk.

I remember spinning around in my chair to see fifteen or more people, standing in stunned silence, listening intently.

The usually wacky radio DJs got serious, and began reading news reports verbatim.

I remember being glued to that radio for the rest of that morning, checking CNN's and MSNBC's sites for photos.

I don't remember which happened next, the towers collapsing, or the third plane hitting the Pentagon, but our office phones were eerily silent, so folks pulled up chairs to listen.

I called home to the soon-to-be-Hubster. He had the day off from his retail manager's job. He described in detail what he was seeing on the TV, and I wanted nothing more than to be with him and away from office buildings.

The radio announced a scheduled a press conference with the Mayor for later that morning at about the time the fourth plane crashed. I was supposed to be in some company-wide phone conference that was being directed by the company's President, but I sort of silently flipped him the bird by leaving the room to hear the news reports instead.

I remember thinking the attacks were going to continue, from east to west, putting Chicago and Atlanta next. Chi-town is just a little too close to home for my liking, and decided I was going home with our without the company's permission. I walked out of that meeting, grabbed what few things I needed and got the heck outta Dodge.

All flights had been grounded by the time I hit the freeway home.

I remember vividly looking up into that bright blue sky as I drove, scanning for planes that shouldn't be there. My heart stopped when a huge crow flew over my car and I mistakenly thought it was a plane for a fraction of a second. Realizing how jumpy I was, I began to cry.

Later that day, when all flights were accounted for, I remember hearing a lot of people in the neighborhood mowing their lawns. When you think about it, nearly everyone was sent home from work, and with nothing they really could do, they needed or wanted to be busy.

I stood on my front porch and cried at the thought of a reinstatement of the draft. I found such beauty in the sounds of my neighbors, all out there mowing together, and for the first time in my life I realized that the life I had in the United States of America was wonderful and precious and worth fighting for. The right to take it for granted should be fought for.

I hoped we would go to war and attack the villains that had attacked us. I was so angry I wanted us to bomb them - whomever they were - until there was nothing left of whatever disease-ridden country they'd come from.

That evening, my family gathered at our house and we ordered pizzas while watching the news coverage. Being together was all we really wanted and needed. In the days following, I submersed myself in footage of those plane crashes, and read every article I could find about the people who lost their lives, and those who missed the same fate for the smallest of reasons. I went to church, donated blood and lit candles to show my support. I took photos of the hundreds of flags I saw flying everywhere - on freeway overpasses, on houses, schools, and businesses.

Today, I have a son who's nearly four that I want to grow up knowing about 9/11. He's obviously not old enough to know the entire story just yet - he'd have nightmares and need therapy. So today, we talked about heroes. Real heroes do not wear capes, I said. Real heroes can't fly without an airplane. I told him we could all be heroes, we just have to make the right decisions when it comes to helping people.


Firefighter flag Sept. 11


Anonymous said...

That photo is amazing.

blessedwith5 said...

America . . . at its lowest and finest!

Thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog! It is very nice to meet you!

We are busy - the addition and remodel is in full force! I will post pictures later today.

kari and kijsa said...

An amazing photo and beautiful remembrance!

kari & kijsa

Anonymous said... knew what to write!!!
i want to put my sept 11 post on here, is that ok?

Laski Gal said...

You know, some days it seems as if it happened just yesterday . . .

Vodka Mom said...

wow. I LOVE the pic.

Blessed Nest said...

what a wonderful post. I too want my young children to know about this day and the heros...I will never forget!

Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk said...

It wasn't just bad stories that came out of that day. I do have a heartwarming tale to show that while evil was rearing its ugly head, good was balancing the world out too . . .

Colleen said...

Thank you so much for posting and remembering.

I was in my apartment getting ready for work and heard about the first plane crashing into WTC. We thought it was maybe a small plane, like a 6-seater.
We got in the car and heard about the 2nd plane and that's when we freaked out. The radio host I mention in my post did the same as yours did...started reading the news verbatim as it came in.
We didn't know until later, but we were on the road when Flight 77 from Dulles was hijacked and flown over our heads and crashed into the Pentagon.
I remember we couldn't make any cell or land-line calls out of our office building (we were located within 20 aerial miles of the Pentagon), and my parents kept getting busy signals when they'd call any of our phone numbers. It wasn't until lunch that I was able to get an email out to my dad and asked him to call everyone for us.
At one point after the flights were all grounded we saw out our office windows another plane flying low near the airport and freaked until it turned a little and we saw it was one of our fighter jets.
Our drive home was very quiet...we only saw a handful of cars, even on the highway.

Miss said...

Beautifully written. Now that my son is 7, he is learning about it in school. There are some facts I have to straighten out, but its EERIE to hear him talk about it, when 7 years ago, he was only 6 months old.