Where were you?

by Kristin Daniels

Today is 9/11.

I wasn’t sure what to blog about today, since we didn’t really have one of our great themes for this week. A new upcoming book? Yeah, I could tell you about that (Hint!). A writing tip or an opinion poll – sure, that might work too. Hottie pics? Oh, just you wait!

But, let me ask this: Do you remember where you were on September 11th, eight years ago? I remember where I was.

I was working at an elementary school. Yep, that was me, Ms. School Secretary, back before the whole erotic romance writing thing happened. I walked into the school around 7:30 central time, and the TV in the child-care area was tuned to a major network (I know what you’re thinking here, and no, no children were around). A plane had just crashed into one of the towers. I couldn’t believe it. We all went into protection mode. We protected our young students from what was going on (not hid the reality of it, those are two very different things). Parents called, quite a few came to pick up their children. Some just wanted to know what we were doing, how we were handling the situation.

Truth was, we were on a semi-lock down. We'd never been on lock-down before, and I admit it was pretty scary. But nothing happened at our school, or any other, thank God.

I distinctly remember walking into our principal’s office later that morning after fielding call after call from concerned parents and looking at his grainy 9 inch television screen.

“The towers fell?” I asked.

“About a half hour ago,” he responded.

I couldn’t take my eyes off the television. Teachers would wander in and out during their breaks to catch up on the news, and our principal sent out emails throughout the day to keep them updated. As soon as the bell rang and the buses left, so did I. At the time, my 3 children were 13 and under, and they all went to different schools. I was so much like the parents that called or stopped by my school that day. I just wanted to hug my kids. I got home after picking up my youngest at his after-school care center. My children and I watched the news together, and I answered all their questions the best I could.

I remember standing outside with my neighbor not so long after I got home. It was a beautiful fall day, not a cloud in the sky. The afternoon had turned so quiet. You see, I live next to a small municipal airport and we are so used to planes taking off and landing that the silence stood out as very odd. There were no airplane trails in the sky that day, which normally wouldn’t seem strange. At least not until you’re looking for them.

9/11 is a day that none of us will ever forget. People are often asked “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” Well, that was before my time, but I’ll never forget where I was that September day in 2001.

Where were you?


Esmerelda Bishop said...

I will have to say eight years seems like such a long time, but I remember that day as vividly today as I did when it happened.

At the time, I worked at an engineering firm in Charlotte. I was listening to my favorite radio talkshow sitting at my desk when it broke across the airwaves. I remember shoving back from my desk and hurrying into my favorite engineers office and saying, did you just hear that? To say the least, work for the day was done for everyone.

Like you, I remember the silence afterwards. My work was a mile from the airport. I smoked at the time, and I will never forget sitting outside and hearing nothing. It was so eerie. You have no idea how used you get to those everyday sounds until they are gone.

I still get very emotional when I see footage of that day. My heart bleeds for the people who lost their lives. Personally, I hope I never forget how I felt the day it happened. I hope to never experience it again, but I never want to forget.


Heather said...

I remember going to England in April of 2001. My husband walked me to the gate at Logan in Boston. Today you can't get to the a boarding gate without a ticket and bare feet.

Sometimes I think how I walked the same halls as the terrorists, and I think of how naive we all were, and I shudder. That innocence is gone forever, at least for me.

Where was I when it happened? I was at work. My husband called and said, "Go online. Open Yahoo." When I saw the pictures I thought it was a joke. I told him, "That's not funny." He replied, "It's for real." I felt like the bottom of my world dropped out. I now know I was in shock.

It wasn't until a few days later that I cried. I sobbed for all the people who lost their lives, and all the loved ones who would never see them again. I thought I'd never stop crying.

For months all I could watch were Disney movies. I know it sounds funny, but like a victim of shell shock, I couldn't stand to hear or see a single explosion or act of violence on my television. The horror of such things had become all too real.

When the planes did start flying again I remember freezing in place when I heard one. I wondered each time if they were the "good guys" or the "bad guys" and whether or not it was happening all over again.

I don't know why I reacted so strongly. Maybe because I used to work in the basement of Tower 2 in the 1980's. It could have been me. It probably was some of the people I passed in the lobby every morning.

Such a beautiful clear blue day. You'd think on a day like that nothing bad could happen.

Carly Carson said...

My husband called me from work and told me to turn on the tv. I was very lucky because he travels a lot but was in the office that day. Since I live in the suburbs of Boston, we knew immediately that we would know families affected. My neighbor came over and another called because her husband had left for LA that morning. (He was all right.) By 2 pm my other neighbor was on her front steps crying because she'd learned one of her friends was on Flight 11. That friend left behind a 7 month old baby.

I don't live near an airport but by early afternoon we were being buzzed by fighter jets. One of my kids had just started first grade and the school for some reason felt compelled to tell those first graders what happened. I haven't forgiven them yet. There are kids in my town who lost parents.

When I drive my kids to school, I still have to drive by the motel where 2 of the terrorists stayed the night before. I feel sorry for people who are unknowingly sleeping in the same bed as one of those terrorists. I still feel creeped out when I drive by. The other motel they used was torn down.

Yes, it's a day I'll never forget.

Carol Ericson said...

Kristin, so glad you blogged about this today. Since I'm on the West Coast, I was sleeping when my husband called at about 7:00 AM from his office. He told me a plan hit the WTC and I figured it was a small plane, but he set me straight. I immediately turned on the TV and watched in horror. When my boys, who were 3 and 5 at the time, got up I changed the channel to Sesame Street. When I drove them to daycare and school, I kept the radio on and literally kept looking up at the skies waiting for more planes to fall. We had the option of coming in to work that day or not. I went in, but we all just hung around a TV that someone had brought in. (One of our co-workers had been in NYC that morning on business. He was eating breakfast across the street from the WTC and literally rented a car and drove half-way across the country before catching a flight in St. Louis.) That night, the kids slept in bed with us and we just held them tight. We also live right next door to the Los Angeles International Airport and it was so quiet and almot eerie. The passengers on United Flt. 92 remain my biggest heros today and George Bush will always have a place in my heart for his sincere response and for keeping us safe for 7 years. God Bless America

Lisa M. Campbell said...

We were on our way back to Grand Forks Air Force Base in N.Dak after a few weeks on leave. My husband I were having a lively conversation and so had the radio off. We pulled into a gas station to refuel, walked in to pay and saw about five people hunkered around a radio. We stopped to listen and at first thought they were listening to a play or story. That's when we found out it New York had been attacked. We had 8 more hours in the car crossing from MI-WI-MN and finally ND. We never passed another vehicle. When we got to the base the bomb dogs were out, mirrors were run underneath vehicles and stripped--what usually took a few minutes of ID checks to get past the front gates turned into a 4 hour traffice jam. When we finally did get home, my husband was out the door to the CATM and though he was somewhere on base, I didn't see him for almost four days. Then later, he deployed for the first time...and he's still deploying.

Nicole North said...

Great post, Kris. Thanks for blogging about this meaningful topic. Though I was only doing mundane things that tragic day, I'll certainly always remember it, as will the rest of America.