“These acts shattered steel but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve” —President George W. Bush
When I woke up on the day of September 11, 2001, it was just another day. I was actually in a pretty good mood for once. It was a clear sunny day here in North Carolina. The temperature was pretty nice too. Not too hot for once. Carolina summers are brutal in case you haven’t heard.
I wasn’t at work for even 30 minutes yet when a co-worker of mine told me a plane had struck the World Trade Center. At first, I thought she must be talking about a commuter plane or small private plane. By the time I got to the break room to see the news, the second plane had already struck the second tower. It was then that I knew this was some kind of attack.
I rushed back to my office and called my wife. I asked her if she had seen the news yet. She said she just heard the news on the radio. I rushed to the conference room where most of the office was gathered around the TV. By the time I got back there the first tower had already fallen. I thought maybe the news was shooting it from a different angle or it was hidden by the smoke. Then someone told me that the first tower had fallen. I refused to believe it. Then 20 minutes later I watched the second tower fall live on the news. It was like someone ripped my heart out with a pair of pliers, no incision, no anesthesia. Then word came that the Pentagon was attacked.
That’s when my heart really sank. I have a brother that works in D.C. I immediately called my parents to see if they had heard from him. My dad seemed more annoyed that I was calling than anything. But he said he hadn’t heard from him yet and that he’ll call me when he does. I called my wife but she wasn’t home. I panicked like an idiot. I mean it’s not like West Hicktown, N.C. would be a huge terrorist target but you never know. I must have called and left a dozen messages at home. Luckily she had only gone to the store but you see what a tragedy like this can do to you.
Back at work, I was glued to the net trying to scrimp every piece of news I could find. I was updating my site as much as I could throughout the day. Work was pretty much useless at this point. My dad called and said my brother was ok which was a relief but that due to his position at his job he had to stay at work. I was just replaying the tower falling over in my head. It was hard to believe that the World Trade Centers were gone. I mean I thought after the ’93 bombing that the towers were indestructible.
I had been to the WTC before when I was a kid. I didn’t go in but I stood in front of them craning my neck like a typical tourist kid. And in an instant, they just weren’t there anymore. I kept praying that the towers evacuated after the first plane hit but as we know now that was not the case, unfortunately.
Then the last plane crashed outside of Pittsburgh PA. One of my supervisors is from Pittsburgh I asked her if her family was ok and they were. I called a friend of mine from North Jersey. I asked her if she and her family was ok. She said yes and then told me how she used to work in the WTC she said she had heard from most of her friends but there was still some she had not heard from. I offered my condolences and told her that I hope everything turns out ok. Then I have/had another friend that lives in Brooklyn who worked near the WTC. I hadn’t heard from her in a while prior to this. The last time I tried to call her number was disconnected. It’s not like her to let her phone bill go unpaid so I was worried about her, to begin with. Now I’m even more worried. The last time we talked she said she was getting a job out of the city but I don’t know if she ever got that job. I’ve tried contacting her through various e-mail addresses I have but no response yet.
In Charlotte, NC itself they had evacuated the downtown area as a precaution. We have several large banking buildings that are 80 stories or more. My wife took the kids out of school. Finally 5 o’clock came and I left work.
On the way home I turned on a local sports radio talk show. The host was taking phone calls from people to talk about what had happened. Then they played the Star Spangled Banner. It was at that time I lost it. I broke down into tears over what had happened. I didn’t know anyone directly involved in the tragedy but couldn’t help feeling an immense sadness over this tragic loss of life.
When I got home I hugged my step kids which is not something I normally do. I’m just not a big hugger. Then I hugged my wife just being thankful that we were all ok. I mean my life has its ups and downs but I could never imagine having to deal with someone like this.
Then after dinner, I just laid in bed transfixed to Fox News and saw for the first time the second plane hitting the tower. I was horrified at the explosion and the sheer senselessness of it all. I slept horribly that night as you can well imagine. It was hard to go the work the next day but as Americans, it’s something we all must do. If we shut the country down then they’ve won. And it’s funny how we take for granted some things. I mean just last night my wife was telling me how strange it was to actually see a plane in the sky.
With this post, I am offering no opinion. Just relating the story of the events in one mans life on a day that none of us will ever forget.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. To the New York Police and Firemen. The rescue workers. And anyone who was affected by this tragedy in any way, shape, or form. God bless.