What’s your 9/11 story?
We all have our own 9/11 story. For all too many it’s the loss of a loved one in the attacks, or the memory of fleeing a burning building, or frantically trying to get ahold of a loved one who may have been on a flight or in the World Trade Center or the Pentagon.
But even for the rest of us—those of us who were home watching the news on television and saw the Breaking News graphic cut into our favorite morning TV show, or those of us who slept through the earliest news and woke up to see that our whole world had changed while we were sleeping—even we have our stories and may have been changed by that day.
This space is for you to tell your 9/11 stories, big and small, grand and simple, tragic and hopeful… However it happened to you, you’re welcome to share it here.
What’s your 9/11 story? Did the attacks and response of the heroes of that day change you in any way?
My 9/11 story:
I was standing in Gerald Ford Airport headed back to Los Angeles from my small Midwestern hometown. As I lined up early to board my flight, suddenly all gate doors were bolted except the ones thrown open with people hustling through them, off their flights. We, the passengers, moved like a pack across the small terminal to the coffee shop with a TV, where we watched the first tower in the World Trade Center burn, small objects dropping from the highest windows. We asked one another, all strangers, “What is falling?” and then gasped as another stranger said, “They’re bodies. People are jumping.”
My mother had dropped me, and swung back around to get me again from the airport. When I got in the car, she was pale. “I can’t reach your brother. No one’s cell phones will work.” We knew he could be one of two places – working in the Pentagon or in New York City, where he took a subway under WTC every day on his way to Columbia for his graduate program.
We located him, taking cover in a building on Columbia’s campus, and we were lucky (blessed, fortunate, whatever you say) to be one of the families who didn’t lose anyone in the attacks.
But I have this visual memory of standing in my parents’ grassy back yard and staring up at the sky, which is impossibly large in the Midwest—no mountains to shorten the panorama of the blue dome—and telling the 10 year old neighbor boy that he should remember what this looked like, the empty sky. He asked me why, and I explained that he’d probably never again in his lifetime see this patch of sky, where planes from Chicago crossed paths with those from Milwaukee, without a single airplane or vapor trail in it.
Or so we can hope.
Our thoughts are with the loved ones of the victims and survivors of the 9/11 attacks.
Image of sparse clouds in blue sky courtesy of Shutterstock