I had been living in Las Vegas since June of that same year. It was after six in the morning and I was getting ready for work. The phone rang and it was my father telling me to turn on the TV that something very wrong was happening in New York. A few minutes after doing what he said, the second plane hit the second tower. It was the most frightening thing I had ever seen in my life. It took me a very long time to process that image. He instructed me to maybe go get some extra cash out of the bank and maybe get some extra canned goods - no one new what was happening or what the ramifications of what was happening would be. I remember feeling sad. So sad and frightened. And so far away from home.
I woke up my then boyfriend, now ex-husband, and told him what had happened. I told him it was time for him to drive me to work. On the way there, I told him about my dad's warnings about taking out extra money. The ex said that my dad was crazy and exaggerating trying to make me feel panicked. Looking back his reaction to 9/11 was so wildly inverse and inappropriate the red flags of the type of person he was to become should have been flying right a long with every other American flag at the time. But, that's a subject for another time.
I made it to work. It as here I first learned about CNN.com's email alerts and signed up right away. I refreshed the news pages so often and frequently. I was so scared. I'm fairly certain that I made a few other phone calls to alert other people, but I remember mostly just looking for information. I was hungry for information and more than likely someone to tell me that it was going to be okay.
The skies being empty in Las Vegas, especially where I worked so close the airport was a sight and lack of sound I will never forget. So quite. Such a bright blue cloudless empty sky.
The owner of our company came to the office shortly after. He called us all in his office and we talked briefly about what had happened and he said a prayer and sent us home for the day.
After arriving home, I sat in front of the TV which was where I would pretty much be for the next three+ days. It was the first introduction of the CNN ticker and I was practically a beta tester for it. I needed to fill my eyes and brain with information to know that this was actually happening and still the waiting for someone telling me everything was going to be okay.
I don't recall if it was actually the night of 9/11 or a night soon following, but we went out to dinner. We were young and didn't know that that was probably in poor taste, so we went. After a huge fight in the car on the way there (yes I know) we arrived to such and empty restaurant. The TVs were all tuned to the news. The few people there were not speaking, all eyes looking at the tvs and the sad images they kept repeating.
I remember not wanting to leave the house again after that for days and days.
Like everyone, the rise of togetherness, patriotism, and helpfulness was wonderful to see and be a part of for me. It was wonderful to see these cars with flags, houses with signs, volunteers and aides. I miss that part of it. That was a good time to be an American.
One last defining moment for me was a moment in the evening, the ex was at work and I had the TV tuned to as much coverage as I could manage. And I was sitting in the dark watching the TV and Peter Jennings was my friend for the evening. The piece he was showing was featuring international response to 9/11. Different countries around the globe with signs, songs, memorials - the last shot showed children from another country singing God Bless America, or something similar. It was so touching. When the camera came back to the studio, there sat Peter Jennings - crying. I remember being so shocked that this man, this stoic, professional manly news-reporter was crying. Weeping even. The next day, I sent an email to my father and some others about seeing Peter Jennings cry and the impact that had on me.
I remember the details of this day like no other. It's possible I remember more about this day from morning to night than I do about the days on which my children were born. But I think that's okay. I think the point of remembering keeps those that died alive. In speaking to me children about this day and holding the close and answering their questions, I'm instilling in them a little bit of the magic that we as a human race had in those days that followed September 11th.