Thirteen years ago, I was snug in my bed when the towers were hit. At 18, I had graduated high school in June and was waiting to leave for the Air Force, so I did not need to be up early. Also, being on the west coast, we were three time zones behind the events in New York, D.C., and Pennsylvania, so it was still quite early for us. My ship out date was later in the month and I was to meet with the recruiter later in the day to go over some things prior to my departure. My parents would later say that they had watched the news in horror that morning before they left for work. I do not remember hearing what, if anything, my parents may have said to my brothers prior to them leaving for school. No one woke me up.
I got up later in the morning and puttering about the house when the phone rang. A check of the caller ID revealed it to be a friend, so I answered. She was in hysterics and I had to ask at least twice for her to repeat herself before I understood enough of what she said to turn on the TV. The rest of the day is a bit of a blur.
I remember calling my recruiter and commenting, “I guess we aren’t meeting today?” He had been recalled to the nearest base for the next foreseeable future, but said he would call me and arrange a meeting once he was released.
I spent much of the afternoon watching the news coverage. The clip I remember most vividly was taken a couple blocks from the south tower. The camera is looking up as the second plane flies overhead and into the building. In slow motion, it seems that the building swallows the plane whole and there is a couple seconds of nothing, and then the building erupts with smoke and fire.
I went to Tae Kwon Do that night and everyone who understood what had happened was very subdued. But we were teaching kids, and we were not sure if they knew or understood what had happened, so we did our best to be energetic.
Thirteen years later, I lowered the flags early this morning at work. One person asked me why before I left a couple hours later. I stood there for a second in surprise before saying the date. The person tried to wave it away by saying, “I knew that. I was just making sure it wasn’t something else.”
I frequently frown at the back and forth I see over politics, religion, and a number of other things. It worries me how much people are arguing, mostly because it seems that is all they are doing. Nothing else is accomplished. The sense of unity this country felt after the attacks is gone.
As we mourn and remember, I pray we can move past the differences in our views.