Some things we’ll always remember. Like knowing where you were at when you learned about the terror attacks on America that happened on September 11, 2001. It was the day of the universal distress call… 9-11. It was the day a nation’s heart broke but not its spirit.
I tremble at the keyboard, as I reflect. That sinking feeling has returned. Those red rimmed eyes too. On that fateful day, like so many others in New York City, Arlington, Virginia and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, I was on the way to work. I was a busy Retail Sales Manager who was happy to be away from the desk and out in the field for the day working with some great people. My mind was racing with the plans of the day so I was only half listening to the radio that played softly in the background of my car. I did manage to catch that something was happening in NYC. It didn’t strike me as odd at first because something is always happening in NYC.
When I arrived at my work location, I was greeted with hugs. My co-workers were not some strangers who barely knew me but friends, like Donna Casciano. I was with people that I admire. I was with people who inspire me. Before we launched into our plans for the day we mentioned in passing that we had all heard that something was happening in NYC. All we knew was that it had something to do with the World Trade Center and a plane. But none of us knew what exactly.
We went on with our morning work plans when something strange happened. All of our cell phones began to ring. We exchanged smiling glances as we checked our phone logs. All calls from family. Hmm…Don’t they know that we are working? So we went on with our work and something else went on. The calls kept coming.
So finally, my dear friend and co-worker at the time Donna said it’s my daughter I better check to see if everything is okay. While she talked her face grew pale. When she hung up she said that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center and it wasn’t an accident. It’s believed to be terrorism. Something is happening in NYC.
All of us had strong connections to NYC. All of us had that sinking feeling. All of us needed to know more. Being the boss, I was able to wrap things up for the day and let us get home to determine what was happening. We all headed to our cars. On that ride back to my home office this time the radio did not play quietly in the background. Every channel was no longer playing music but talking about some breaking news happening.
And then I reached home. And then I saw.
My mind could not fully get around what I was seeing. My heart could not fully beat. My tears could not stop flowing. My questions could not stop coming and my prayers did not stop going up. I saw more than planes crashing, more than ruble. I saw men carrying women. I saw firefighters running in. I saw first responders rescuing the injured. And that is what I will remember most. That is what is inscribed upon my heart. How friend helped friend. How co-workers became family. How a nation reacted. How firefighters and policemen’s duty became desire. That is where the nation was on September 11, 2001.