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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

SPECIAL: 9-11, Looking back eleven years later

I remember waking up in my Downtown Memphis apartment as if it were any other day of the week. At six in the morning, it was still just another Tuesday. The cat perched on the edge of the bed, glaring at me because he wanted food. Joe grumbled for the same.

I took my shower then tossed on my Sleep Out Louie’s t-shirt and my jeans, ready to head out to the downtown restaurant I managed back in those days. Joe woke up while I was watching television and asked me if I would make a McDonald’s run before I left. Sure. No problem.

I was sitting in the drive through after ordering a sausage and egg biscuit for me and breakfast burritos for Joe, listening to Howard Stern ramble on about something most likely lewd, but funny none the less, because back in those days I didn’t have streaming media in my car and didn’t have an ipod.  The CDs I carried were getting old and well, Howard made me laugh.

I approached the window just as Howard said, “A plane hit one of the twin towers!”

Now, of course, I was a bit taken aback by the news, but like most, didn’t really think anything of it. As I was pulling onto the road leading down to my apartment, the second plane hit. Okay, now it’s time to panic.
Believe it or not, I can recall every moment I was in the car, listening to Howard and Robin and the other people in the studio talk about what they saw. I remember getting back to the apartment and immediately turning on Fox News. I stayed glued to the television up until the very last second, when I had no choice but to leave so I could go to work.

When I arrived in Downtown Memphis (very close to the Federal Building) the place was a ghost town. Now, at that point, I didn’t know the Pentagon had been attacked and the one person I saw in the Parking Garage didn’t mention it. She told me downtown was closed because of terrorist threats. I later found out that wasn’t the case. A gas main had ruptured and downtown was evacuated, but at that point, I suppose it was a safe assumption.

That day, I went back home and stayed glued to the television—watching everything unfold, the mass chaos and fear. I watched people cry for their loved ones and listened to reporters’ speculations. Honestly, nothing ever scared me so much. I believed everything about this country was going to change and the freedoms we enjoyed, we would no longer have. We as a country lost a lot during the 9-11 attacks. Some people lost family and loved ones, some lost their sense of peace and privacy. Some citizens lost their safety and became targets of racist, bigoted attacks.

How was your life changed after 9-11?


Jen Osborn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen Osborn said...

It's funny, but I can remember where I was as well. Those moments will never be forgotten. I happened to be at work, doing a help desk call and was so rattled, I was not able to really help the poor girl. She wasn't aware of what was going on and asked me what was wrong. I told her "A plane just hit the World Trade Center". It didn't register with her how this was a major event.

We had a break room, at the time, with a TV. Every employee was crammed in there to watch this event. We stood in horror as we watched the second plane hit.

That is a day I will never forget.

sherrie0824 said...

I remember driving into the parking lot of the psych hospital I was temping at the time; the announcer on the radio said a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. I didn't think much of it ... I remembered that a small plane had hit the Empire State Building back a few decades and that a plane must've gotten lost in fog or something. Wasn't 10 minutes after clocking in that all work ceased. We were told not to tell the patients, but we could go watch tv in the executive lounge. Most of us huddled around the tvs they did leave on. After a few hours, they told all the non-essentials to just go home. Nothing was going to get done that day.

I remember looking up at the sky that night - it was clear and not a plane in sight. I lived near both O'Hare and Midway flight paths and it was weird to not see a thing in the sky but stars and planets. I went through the rest of the next few days in a daze.

My sister's wedding was the 15th; thankfully none of the family was flying in, so no travel disruptions there. I brought a candle to light at the rehearsal dinner. There was a definite cloud over the proceedings.

It's an unfortunate circumstance, but I will never forget my sister's wedding anniversary. As I've done every year since, tonight when I get home I will light that same candle I took to the rehearsal dinner in memory of those who died that fateful day.

Deanna-Marie Michael said...

I remember being in high school. The day was ordinarily boring and well after the towers were hit it continued to be that way. My school decided it was best not to tell us anything and to let our parents deal with it. I can't say I personally agreed with that plan, but that's neither here nor there.

I got a text from my mom, I was one of the only kids back then to have a cell phone, saying she was going to be picking me and my younger brother up from school that day. I found it odd and was praying everything was okay with my family because that was the only thing I could think of for why she'd be picking me up.

Soon after word started to spread through the rumor mill that something happened in the city. That there was a major plane crash and a lot of people were hurt. Being only 60 miles north this was scary, it was real, but still it didn't have the impact on me that it soon would.

As my mom came to pick me up she told us what happened. My brother and I say in silence on the way home listening to talk radio and finding out more until we got home and turned on the tv in time to watch the second tower fall. The tears started to flow. Even from my dad when he thought we all weren't looking which was something I had never seen in my life.

I remember the paranoia. I remember my parents talking about whether to head north, somewhere around Canada, somewhere we could be safe in case they hit the nuclear power plant nearby. I remember the security. I remember the tanks lining the city streets. But most of all, I remember the feeling of unity that came after. New Yorkers were bound together, but even more so, Americans were bound together. I had one of those flags in my car window, as did everyone else around. We shared stories together, we cried together, we leaned on each other as a country in a time where we were all shaken with fear.