Let us not forget the events of September 11, 2001. I hear it said: One day 9/11 or Patriot Day will be thought of Remembrance Day. If you don’t know what that is, it is December 7, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked — have we forgotten?
For me, on September 11, 2001, I remember being woken up by my roommate because of a call from my brother. I was in college and was sleeping-in, like usual, and with the east coast time difference a lot had happened before I was awake that morning. My brother was calling because my Air Force dad was stationed in Washington, D.C. I tuned in like my roommate and the rest of the nation were doing; why had no one woken me up?
No one – relatives and close friends – could get a call into my dad (or mom for that matter). I managed to do so in about 5 minutes of continuous and persistent calling. I then began to call all our loved ones to pass on the news that my dad was fine. Most of my classes were canceled and the one that wasn’t I ended up walking out of so that I could stay informed with televisions set up in our main campus’ Union Building with other students.
I didn’t hear from my parents on September 11. In fact the first communication came in from my dad via email on September 14, 2001:
Tuesday, September 11, 2001
The day of the attack, we were in our office, actually a couple of blocks away from the Pentagon. We had just heard words of the Trade Towers attacks and learned of another plane orbiting in the D.C. area. I didn’t hear/feel the crash here, but saw the horrific, huge black smoke cloud covering major portions of the clear blue sky.
People were running outside from all areas and looking toward the Pentagon. We shortly found out what had happened and directed everyone to report in and immediately call someone at home. This was a GREAT decision since we lost available communications for nearly the rest of the day.
Sometime during this period of reporting we did hear a smaller (secondary?) explosion and we’re still not sure what that was — wall falling? fuel? Again, more people running–in all different directions. Government buildings were soon directed to be evacuated and the feeder roads out of the city were clogged–you could have literally walked on tops of cars for miles.
I carpooled in that day and was unable to get back to our car at the Pentagon, so I hitched a ride home several hours after the evacuation call. Most of the traffic had resided by then, but it was all very surreal. Despite the attack, smoke everywhere, the magnitude of the appalling damage, etc. there were folks in cafes a block away eating lunch outside and drinking beers. Amazing! I was only able to be dropped off at a gas station near home (about 25 miles south)–had to wait a while before I was able to get in touch with my wife to pick me up.
Wednesday, September 12, 2001
A real mess driving into work–hitched a ride in, since our carpool car was left behind the previous day. The Pentagon was still burning, but this time a gray/brown versus black color smoke. In the middle of the "wound" someone had hoisted an American flag–the only one I saw at full mast in the entire city–a FANTASTIC sight! Access to the Pentagon parking lots were denied–another traffic mess–so, I had to walk in to the office. By the time most of us finished this trek, our throats were raw from the acrid air which was being blown in our direction through Crystal City; couldn’t swallow anything without burning a bit for a couple of days.
By now there was much more security in our building–metal detectors, etc. Many survivors had subsequently been relocated to Crystal City offices, but didn’t impact us. Media vans, antenna, people everywhere–some grieving families standing vigil.
I was released a bit early again and managed to retrieve our car, but everything was still cordoned off.
Thursday, September 13, 2001
Drove into work–as we came into view of the Pentagon was able to see the large flag draped over the side before the President’s visit the afternoon before. What a sight! We listen to the oldies radio station as we commute, and was touched by them playing Ray Charles’ version of America just as the Pentagon came into our view; what timing!
Things again were pretty quiet at work so I was able to run for the first time this week–clear, blue skies and warm–a treat after being confined to offices. We started to get reports of numbers/names of those missing.
Full day at work, but access to the freeways was frustrating and it took more than an hour to get home.
Friday, September 14, 2001
About 10a.m., my USN counterpart and I decided it was time to actually go back into the Pentagon and check things out–maybe go to one of the memorial services (10, 11, noon). It was raining so we took the bus over and were dropped off –in the rain– until a cop told us we had to get back on and go to another entry location. Wet, we finally passed through the check point. After gaining access, I marveled at the amount of agencies set up to help the rescue teams, etc–McDonalds, Wal-Mart, EPA, Salvation Army, Baptist Men, Red Cross–to name a few.
Once in the Pentagon, we made it to each floor/corridor/wing/floor we could access. This was our memorial service–quiet as a tomb in there. Each was guarded by a young soldier on 12 hour shifts, many with only lamps for light and eager to talk and in great spirits. We saw broken windows everywhere, soot on the walls, water flowing from some locations, water on the floors, unknown shoes swept in a pile, roof shingles torn away, wall damage, barren, very few people, no one laughing, quiet and few folks–amazing as it was just beyond the Hall of Honor corridor — Very moving. Later, we managed to move through the rescue workers to the outside and made it, amazingly to directly across from the crash site–watched them remove large pieces of the plane with a crane.
We talked to a young National Guard lady from Baltimore who was a guard near us. It was still raining like crazy and she only had plastic for a poncho, but was glad to be doing her part. Left there in awe–others tried later to get where we did, but were unable–so glad to have had the experience–no other uniformed folks were even close to where we stood.
We had to walk from the Pentagon back to our office and met several civilians trying to find the location of another (outdoor?) memorial service they were trying to make–couldn’t help them since we hadn’t heard about it.
Now, getting ready to end this terrible week, knowing more is to follow. Look forward to talking to all of you and wish God’s blessings on your families and this nation.
Thank you for reflecting with Mom Start on this 10 year anniversary. We would like to so thank you to all the military people and families that were and are serving our country. God bless America!
Summer is very active in our Local MOMS Club chapter, she is the mother of two adorable active boys, and is always thinking of ways to help others. She is a friend, a wife, and always busy as all mommies are. She is very active on Facebook, addicted to Geocaching and very interested in organic and green living while cooking up a storm.