Friday, September 11, 2009

Where were you on 9/11?

On September 11, 2001 my father was visiting from Seattle. My younger sister had gotten married just two days prior and my father had flown in from Seattle to attend. As he usually did, he spent time visiting with his seven kids scattered from Pennsylvania to Virginia during his trip east. Dad was staying with Paul and I at our old place on the Little River.

Paul had owned two small cabins across the road from each other when we met and the first couple of years together were spent dividing our time between the two. When Dad came back with us from the wedding in in Northern Virginia, we set him up in the cabin Paul had named "Blue Moon" while we stayed stayed across the one-lane dirt road at "Key West". (I know, it's too gay for words.)

Paul had left for work when I got up to start the coffee and turned on the TV. As I watched Katie Couric reporting that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, I called Dad on the phone and told him to turn on the TV.

As I continued watching the coverage, a second plane shot past the back of Katie's head and into the second tower, exploding in a massive fireball. Like the rest of the world, Dad and I watched the morning's events unfold mostly in a stunned silence that was occasionally interrupted with speculation about who could have done this and why.

But we had more practical things to deal with that day. I was due back at work that night and Dad was supposed to fly from Roanoke to DC to meet another of my sisters, and continue his East Coast tour. All air traffic had been canceled and we needed to work out alternate transportation. No buses or trains were moving either that day as a precaution against further attacks.

I made several calls to car rental agencies and finally found one that had a few cars left. I drove Dad into Roanoke, MapQuest directions in hand. I handed him my cell phone and told him to stop frequently if he needed to. His fibromyalgia made it difficult for him to drive long distances and his designated driver, my stepmother, had already flown home. We alerted my sister of his alternate travel plans, said our goodbyes and I went home to get ready for work.

It seems trivial now, but I've heard that when you're going through a difficult time and everything is chaotic, doing something normal helps you to feel more normal. No one knew that day what an impact the 9/11 terrorist attack would have on the world. Addressing the immediate problem of getting my dad's visit back on track helped me to feel a sense of control on a day that the unthinkable happened.

What were you doing on September 11? Please leave a comment.
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  1. Scott and I were on our honeymoon in Ireland. We had just crossed the Shannon on a ferry and were trying to find Irish music on the radio (all they seemed to play was American pop!) when we came across a report that the second tower was falling. We immediately knew 2 things, 1) Ireland was the safest place in the world to be at that moment and 2) we were grateful to be getting news from SKY news and not the treacle-drenched American media. We still didn't know what had happened as we continued on our route to Dingle. But I noticed people looking at us with kindness and sympathy as we drove by. We settled into a pub and saw all the replays, again thankful that professional journalists were on the story and not Katie Couric or the rest of the American schlock crew. As Congress came out and sang God Bless America that night, we were embarrassed for our country and the complete lack of dignity of its leaders. At that moment, I sincerely wished another one would hit the Capital, so that at least some good would come of the tragedy. We were glad to be among people who were prayerful, sympathetic and dignified. We couldn't get through to America, so we phoned a friend in Dublin, who IM'd my sister in law's sister, who IM'd back that my brother called everyone and everyone is okay. For the rest of the week, we saw prayerbooks and candles at every store and hotel we visited. The day of mourning was thoughtful and quiet. No one complained. At least no one in Ireland. The biggest issue was where to find an open gas station and some lunch, as most everything was closed. We have a lot to learn from the Europeans about tact, sympathy and quietude. We were grateful that my stepmother had left for Seattle a day earlier, as her cross country direct flight was just the kind the terrorists were looking for. I felt guilty for teasing my worrisome mother in law that we were more likely to die in a car crash on the way to the airport than get hijacked on a plane. I felt guilty for joking that a single woman over 35 is more likely to be killed by a terrorist than get married (having just married at 37). I was glad to be on Aer Lingus' first flight home the following Sunday and to arrive safely.

  2. I was living in Phoenix with my partner. We were getting to leave our home that morning to work in our small business. We did the and sloughed a donut or two, turned the tube on for noise.When I first turned it on, they had said something about a small plane hitting one of the towers....I was curious and kept watching...and watching. We left the house late, stunned for the rest of the day in disbelief....what will happen next, and should we be out working? Every client we had that day had to chatter and convey their thoughts to us....which was fine....we were all reaching out to try to understand. The thought of "revenge" overtaking OUR country's morality and logic was on my mind from that very first day....that the public could now be manipulated with fear and war-mongering leaders magnifying the need for a quick revenge.The's people were vulnerable to manipulation, more than normally.This was I thought...a threat from well as from inside potentially. I did not trust the stability of our leadership...esp. our president at that time.


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