It was a beautiful fall day. I remember waking up and feeling happy because the Texas summer was finally waning and we were getting highs in the low 90's instead of the 100's. The kids were all in school, even Joe, who was a 3 year old preschooler. I busily got the kids ready for school that morning, making lunches and yelling out the motherly threats that help motivate kids to remember to take their lunches and get out of the door on time. I had GMA going on in the back ground. John should have left early because he was in sixth grade and Mrs. Long encouraged the kids to get to school thirty minutes early to get started on math for the day. He knew that the more he did at school, the less homework he would have. But he was a little slow that morning and he was watching TV when the report cam on that there was a problem at the World Trade Center. At the time that he left for school the News reporters didn't know what had happened. The reporter was guessing that maybe a bomb had gone off. Jeff and Megan were at Richardson High School for marching band practice. Bob was getting ready to go to work. I looked at the TV and noticed that GMA was covering a breaking story about an airplane that had crashed into the World Trade Center. They were interviewing witnesses who had seen the airplane. I remember that people were being evacuated from the building that had been devastated and from the adjacent building. I remember thinking it was overly cautious to evacuate that building. I didn't know what to think about the crash. I knew that the WTC had been the target of terrorists groups in the past, but it was hard to believe someone would run a plane into a building. I was really hoping the plane crash had been the result of a pilot having a heart attack at the exact wrong time. I got Joe dressed up in some patriotic clothes that I had purchased at Target on clearance after all of the summer patriotic holidays were over. He looked so cute wearing his American red, white, and blue. I was giving him some cereal for breakfast and we were sitting at the table watching the little TV. We were watching the first tower burn and I was explaining to him that someone might have gotten sick and hit the building, but not to worry because the firemen were trying to get all of the people out of the building. That was when the second plane hit the second tower. I remember Joe looking at me and saying, "Wooh!" That was when I knew that it wasn't a mistake, but that NYC was under attack. It was very surreal. In my entire life I had never truly imagined that America would be attacked so openly. We always took the fight somewhere else. I know some people were afraid. I wasn't afraid. I was mad. I didn't think that the whole nation was in danger, just NYC. The terrorists always had a a problem with New York City, especially the WTC.
I put Joe in his car seat and started driving him to school. I turned on the radio to listen to the account of what was going on at the WTC. I was listening to Kid Kraddic on 106.1. He had someone on a phone and on the air actually in NYC who was at the scene describing how people were jumping out of the buildings and landing on those below. He pulled the plug on that, thinking it was way too graphic for his morning audience. Almost as soon as he hung up on the WTC horror, he announced that an airplane had just crashed into the Pentagon and that there was one more plane out there. He also announced that the American government had failed its people that day. So now it wasn't just an attack on New York City, but on the American government. Everyone thought that the next plane was heading to the White House. I dropped Joe off at preschool and headed back home. I had a Spring Creek PTA board meeting to go to. I got in a few minutes late due to my driving duties. I asked if everyone knew what was going on and they did. Karen Holburn, our PTA president at the time was getting text updates every few minutes on her phone. I remember she announced that the south tower collapsed. A few minutes later a plane had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. We had no idea why a plane would crash there. Then a few minutes later she announced that the North tower had collapsed. The principal, Carol Allen Tool came in and told us that the teachers had been instructed not to show anything on TV to the kids and not to talk about it. I don't know why that rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, sure, they could pretend like nothing happened that day at school, but surely the kids would find out when they got home. The trouble was that when the kids got home we had our TVs on and the broadcasters kept showing the crashes over and over. Some kids got confused and thought more and more planes were crashing into buildings. So the solution was to turn off the TV and turn on a video if needed. As acting CFO of Silver Cinemas, Bob had to turn off the TV at the office and remind the employees that they were being paid to work that day.
I knew that life in America would never be quite the same. I knew that we would never feel as secure as we felt on 9/10/01. I had a feeling that this would be one of those events that would change the reckoning of time for America. We would say things like, since 9-11...because of 9-11...in light of 9-11...And I knew that we would finally have to address the big troubles in the middle east for which there are no good solutions. I knew there would be a big war and that many more people would lose their lives. I knew that America would have to stand together. I felt sorry for my kids who would have to face these new realities for the rest of their lives.
I talked to my father about it and he questioned if the terrorists knew that 911 was the number you dial in case of emergency. He wondered if it was coincidental. I assured him that it wasn't coincidental, but a "cute" gimmick for them. We would always remember 9-11. It would roll off the tongue. I still question the reasoning for the attacks. Were they thinking they would gather converts to Islam by bombing us? Why can't they send missionaries out like everyone else? I was amazed that there seemed to be a rash of Islamic converts at the time. I will never get that. Several of Megan's Islamic friends were upset about the terrorists' Islamic roots. It is no wonder that America tried to stay out of the sticky Middle Eastern problems as long as it could. I wish we could turn back the clock and go back, but, as the saying goes, the horse is already out of the barn.
Memories of My Mother
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