I think every generation probably has one world event that makes them remember exactly where they were at the moment. For my parents it was the assassination of JFK. I remember interviewing my mom for a book report in 8th grade.
Years from now I’m sure my kids will be interviewing me about 9-11 and my memories of that day.
I was working at the time and usually got into the office around 7:30 a.m. The only other person usually there at that time was the office manager Peggy. When I arrived the office was open and lit but I didn’t see her. I settled into my cubicle and went to take my lunch into the kitchen. She was in the break room with the TV on. "A plane just hit one of the twin towers," she said. For a minute I struggled to think what the twin towers where – oh yeah, the World Trade Center. I quickly sat down and we watched for a few minutes. It was a bit surreal as I had been in New York City with my mom and brother just 2 weeks before. At that time the media didn’t know what airline the plane was from. I immediately thought of my sister in law who is a flight attendant for Southwest.
I ran to my cubicle, grabbed the phone and called her. I remember sinking to my knees in relief when she answered the phone (oh geesh, I’m getting all teary-eyed now typing this). She too was watching the news. I just sat on the floor and talked to her for a few minutes. Then I went back to the tv.
Now I’m a journalist by training and I worked in a media relations office for a major university. So to say that we were news junkies is a HUGE understatement. As other people started to arrive the group in the break room grew larger. We saw the second plane hit the other tower. We heard about the other 2 planes crashing. We witnessed the towers collapse with horror and watched the people, covered in ashes, stream down the streets I had walked just days earlier.
The Marriott hotel that my mom and I stayed at during a visit in 1999 was gone. The restaurant we ate at, gone. The tower we stood on top of and took pictures, gone.
The campus was eerily quiet that day. Some classes were cancelled, the ones that still met did nothing but talk about the days events. Huge groups of students crowded around every available tv in the MU.
My husband was a schoolteacher so we tried to talk a few times in between classes. What I really wanted to do was go pick my almost 2 year old up from daycare and just hug him tight. I’m not sure why I didn’t just go. It’s not like we got any work done.
We had the TV on at home that night until Noah started to say "Plane crash, boom" complete with sound effects. So we turned it off and I realized that even I didn’t want to hear any more for then.
It’s weird to think of how our lives have changed. All the extra security with flying, things like that. My parents just left for a five week trip in England, Scotland and Ireland. Before they left I got copies of their passports, a detailed itinerary and we discussed emergency communication ideas "just in case" there was a terrorist attack over there. Six years ago we never would have bothered.