It was a Tuesday morning, and I was at work early, helping my boss prepare for the weekly Senior Team meeting. As usual, as soon as I got to work that morning, I entered my office, booted up my computer, then turned on the radio. I was typing out the agenda for the meeting, when one of the DJ's came across the air, announcing at first that it appeared as if a helicopter hit one of the World Trade Center buildings in New York City. Now, I've been to New York numerous times, and I know just how ridiculously TALL the Twin Towers were, and because of that, I clearly remember thinking that it was so odd that ANYTHING could hit those buildings on a day like that particular September 11th was; a beautiful fall morning, very crisp, cool, and clear, with a perfectly blue, CLOUDLESS sky.
A few moments later, the same DJ interrupted the music again, to say that it wasn't a helicopter as they initially reported, but a commercial aircraft that slammed into the side building (which I thought was even WEIRDER, but dismissed as some sort of malfunction with the plane. It HAD to be that....there was no other explanation, as far as I was concerned).
After a little bit longer, the DJ came back on the air again, and announced that the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. had been hit by yet another commercial aircraft!
Just then, the Executive Secretary for the Dean of Education came bolting past my office, and ran into my bosses office, interrupting the private meeting that occurred right before the Senior Team meeting. I immediately got up from my chair to chase after her, to try and stop her from entering his office, until I heard what she was crying out, "The DJ on the radio is announcing that this country is being attacked by terrorists! You might want to come and take a look!" We all rushed off to one of the empty classrooms, and immediately set up a television set, and turned it on just in time to see the aircraft slam right into the side of the second Twin Tower. It was an image that I will never forget as long as I draw breath.
I rushed back into my office, and tried desperately to call my husband. Because he worked nights, I knew he'd be home. I quickly learned that ALL of the phone lines were dead, and it was futile to try and contact him, either by land line or by cell phone. So... I did the next best thing. I logged onto AOL Instant Messenger, praying he was online. I can't even begin to tell you how relieved I was when I saw his screen name popping up in response. I asked him if he'd been watching TV, and he said no...that he was busy straightening up from that morning's breakfast, and playing with our then 2-year-old daughter. I told him "Go turn on the TV... NOW! We're being attacked!" He must have thought I'd completely lost my mind (and to be quite honest, I felt like I had just stepped into the middle of some horrible, twisted prank myself), but he complied. When he came back, he typed the words "Oh my God! The Twin Towers are on FIRE!!!" I told him the Pentagon had been hit, too, and that I wasn't exactly sure what was going on, but considering all THREE planes departed out of Logan Airport, and they were speculating that The Prudential Center might be the next target, that I wanted him to go get our son out of school .... NOW, and that I would be coming home as quickly as possible. The first thoughts that came to mind were we were experiencing the beginning of World War III, and if there was even a remote chance that we were going to be killed, then I wanted to be hugging my family when I went.
Before leaving, I stopped back into the classroom where we'd set up the television. By this time, co-workers from all departments had filled the room, glued to the set and hanging onto every word and video with growing horror. Just as I positioned myself in a spot where I could see the TV screen, the first Tower collapsed. An uncontrollable gasp escaped from me, and I began to sob. I remembered hearing that, although they were working really hard to get all of the people out of the buildings, there were many who hadn't emerged yet. I also recalled that there was a Preschool located on the first floor of one of the buildings. So... I sobbed for all those people...those ordinary people who were just going to work or attending school...whose only mistake that morning was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I sobbed for all of those lives senselessly and carelessly lost.
Soon after, I went back to my office, gathered up my things, and bolted out of work. I made it to the bus terminal a few short minutes later, fighting my way through the throngs of people who were making a mass exodus from their own jobs, their own classes, their own "normal" lives... to make it home to their own loved ones. Of course, my husband all but insisted that he would come and pick me up from work, but I demanded that he stay home with our son and daughter.... if anything happened, I wanted the three of them to be together, at the very least.
As most who take public transportation know, a bus is usually buzzing with people chatting with one another, or talking on their cell phones, or listening to their iPods. But, on this day, EVERYONE who had a cell phone had theirs plastered to their ears... either trying desperately to get through to their loved ones, or talking to people on the other end. Those who weren't on their phones were listening to the radio that the bus driver had on board with him. Some were crying, some were praying, but we were all quiet and still. It was one of the most eerie things I'd ever experienced.
It seemed to take forever to get to my stop, and as soon as I exited the bus, I RAN home, flung open the front door, and tore up the stairs. I don't think I ever hugged anyone for so long, or so tightly, as I did my children and husband when I walked through our front door!
Of course, along with the rest of America (and the majority of the world), we were glued to the television for the rest of the evening, watching the madness unfold right before our very eyes. It was clear that history was being made that day, and that the world, as we knew it, would never be the same again.
I prayed that my kids would grow up to understand exactly what happened to all of us on that day, and that none of us would ever grow complacent enough to carry on our lives without remembering all of those innocent people whose lives were taken away on that day. I know I will NEVER forget.