On 9/11, I worked in a large insurance company in San Antonio, Texas. I passed by a break room and saw a large group of people standing beneath the televisions mounted on the wall, watching coverage of some disaster in New York. I was on my way to a meeting, but I paused. Everyone was quiet, whispering. I heard someone say, “I think a small plane crashed into one of the trade center buildings.” As I stood there realizing a tall skyscraper was on fire, another plane entered our view, and we all watched horrified as it crashed into the second tower.
Meeting forgotten, I stood, listening as news people tried to make sense of what we’d all witnessed. When the towers leaned and began to tumble down, I knew what had happened was intentional. That something profoundly ugly and cruel had just occurred.
Over the following days, like so many others, I couldn’t look away from the coverage—the people running away, gray and covered in dust, of people leaping from windows, of the stories of the first responders who’d been inside those buildings, trying to move people to safety, of the person who’d stayed with a wheelchair-bound friend in a stairwell… So many horrible/wonderful stories.
At the time, I was still in the National Guard. During my unit’s first weekend together after the attack, we reviewed what it meant. What we had to prepare for. Another war was coming.
Today, eighteen years later, I remember all of that like it was yesterday. It’s one of those days that remains forever emblazoned on my mind—like the days JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, and John Lennon were assassinated—like the day I watched the moon landing, although my feelings while watching that miracle of technology and perseverance left me feeling light and hopeful for the future rather than somber and angry. They are all seminal moments, ones you remember what you were doing, and who you were with when you first heard…
I think of the first responders who arrived to search for survivors. Of the dogs with their booties, who suffered from finding so much death that men lay down in the rubble to give those dogs a joyful “win”. So many heroes who suffer to this day.
I remember. Do you want to share your memories?