It was about 6:50am in California on the morning of 9/11 and I had just finished breastfeeding my 5 month old son. My two year old daughter was waking up when my phone started ringing. It was my husband's best friend. "Airplanes just flew into the World Trade Center," he said.
"What? Airplanes accidentally crashed into it?" I asked.
"No," he said. "I'm at school right now and seeing on the TV that hijacked planes were flown directly into huge buildings in New York City."
I still couldn't process. "What?"
"America is under attack," he said. "Terrorists are attacking us."
I took the phone to my husband who was reading his Bible and then turned on the radio. I tuned into the news station just in time to hear the announcer say, "The building...the building is falling!"
We didn't have a TV and I suddenly felt fear. I couldn't see what was happening. I bundled my little ones into my arms and we went over to our neighbor's house. He was getting ready for work and hadn't turned on his TV yet. We all watched in horrified silence.
And then we saw the Pentagon was on fire. That's when I got nervous. My brother-in-law was in D.C. I wanted to call my sister but my daughter was asking for breakfast and my son was crying.
I went back home, my mind reeling. I made breakfast for my daughter. My phone rang again. It was my Dad.
"Your sister hasn't heard anything. Can you go sit with her?"
I called my sister. She hadn't heard anything from her husband despite calling multiple times. She said she didn't need me to come visit, that she would call me as soon as she knew anything.
My husband left for work despite my pleas that he stay home. On the radio we were hearing that there could be multiple hijacked planes still in the air and I was afraid of one coming down in L.A.
I spent the day alone, fearful, listening to the radio, trying to tend my children. I remember praying for the families who lost loved ones and I remember praying for our country.
My Dad called again.
"This is an act of war," he said. "America is at war."
I started crying.
My sister finally called. Her husband had been riding his bike when he saw smoke rising from the Pentagon. People were fleeing the D.C. area and he had no way of getting out. Finally, a friend living in Virginia drove to a meet-up point and picked him up.
When my husband returned home from work, I was frazzled and weepy. The attacks had taken on a spiritual dimension for me. I thought for sure we were seeing the end of America--the predictions I'd heard from my childhood were all coming true.
On this 10 year anniversary, several things about the implications of 9/11 still amaze me:
- That there haven't been more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil
- That the U.S. is still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan
- That it took 10 years to find Osama bin Laden
- That my oldest son, who was born in 2001, has never known a peacetime America
- That the fundamentalist church of my childhood fell apart shortly after 9/11 and I gained my freedom from religious oppression.
Let's build a little memorial of stories here in my comment box: Where were YOU on 9/11? Did 9/11 change your life? How?