Sunday, September 11, 2011
9/11 Ten Years Later
I didn't spend much time today thinking about 9/11/2001. I let myself stay busy with the kids instead, and even took a nap with Christopher. But that beautiful Tuesday morning will never fade from my memory. I was on a shuttle bus from the Pentagon to Rosslyn when we heard about the 2nd plane hitting the Towers. An Air Force guy on the bus expressed his hope that it was a flying accident. I remember thinking how optimistically naive that was, and wondering if he really believed that. I was supporting the Dual Use Science & Technology (DUS&T) Program, an OSD program under the Director, Defense Research & Engineering (DDR&E), whose offices were temporarily located in Rosslyn due to ongoing Pentagon renovations. I don't remember the details of my day, but I do remember my friend and colleague, Jan Wilson, who was pregnant with her first child, asking "What kind of world am I bringing this child into?!" Then the plane hit the Pentagon. That was much closer to home than the Twin Towers. We were scared. Were we safe? How many other attacks would there be? Would it last all day? all week? What was happening to our lives? Many people headed straight home. Those of us without our cars stayed at work. We all huddled into the little lobby-level cafe, silently glued to the small television, with slack or quivering jaws and tear-filled eyes. We watched the towers come down, first one, then the other. We could only imagine how many people might still be inside. We couldn't fathom the losses. We had no words. I don't remember how I got home (to very nearby Lloyd Apartments, on Tennessee Ave). I remember talking to JR, he was at AIT and had had difficulty reaching me. I don't remember talking to Dianne, but I think I did. I spent the rest of the day crying and watching the news. I VHS recorded many hours of it, I think I still have that tape somewhere. Planes were grounded, the busy skies grew immediately and eerily silent. Washington National is a VERY busy, one plane per minute airport, the noise of which I had never considered until it fell silent. The only noise from our skies was the occassional military aircraft, deploying to God knows where for God knows what mission. No news choppers. No commercial flights. No cargo flights. Then, when flights did resume, several days later I think, I remember looking up every time I heard a plane, wondering if I would ever see/hear planes the same again (I do, now). I don't remember the rest of that week, surely we didn't return to work, did we? But then eventually we did. We hung our flags. We mourned our dead. We resumed our flights. We went back to work. But it was different. We donated blood. We spoke kindly to strangers. We looked one another in the eye. We embraced our freedoms, thankful to be Americans. Some of us grew angry. Some of us gave up hope. Some children turned into men that week and joined the Armed Services. I wasn't a mother yet then, but I can only imagine the collective motherhood cringed with grief and fear of what was happening to our children. How do our babies, whom I believe are born innocent and pure, turn into the monsters we have among us today.