Where were you on the morning of September 11, 2001? No doubt, you remember exactly, don't you?
I was driving by the Pentagon. We were leaving Arlington to return to South Carolina, after taking my six-month-old nephew, Ryan, home to his parents. We spent the night of the 10th, then got up on the 11th to drive home. We had planned to leave between 8 am and 8:30 but it was more like 8:45 when we actually left my sister’s house.
As we approached the Pentagon, I wondered aloud why there were police officers everywhere and why there were roadblocks being set up on the entrance and exit ramps. People were scrambling, rushing to close of the streets. In fact, I said that somebody important must be coming or going or doing something.
Because we were listening to an audio book, we didn’t have the radio on. Shortly, though, the cell phone rang. That's when we learned that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Immediately, we switched from listening to the book to listening to the radio.
We continued to drive south, trying to get news and trying to figure out what had happened. Soon, we learned of the second plane attack on the World Trade Center. And then the Pentagon crash. And then the news about the Pennsylvania crash.
These were hours of disbelief, shock, horror, confusion. This was more than the mind could fathom.
During some stretches along I-95, it was difficult to get clear radio signals, but we picked up bits and pieces as much as possible. It became clear that the country was under attack.
As we continued the drive, people honked and waved at the flag on the car. Within days, in the aftermath of this tragedy, there were flags everywhere.
It many ways, it was a long drive home. My son lived in Arlington and worked at the Department of Justice in D.C. I couldn’t reach him by phone. I couldn't find anyone who knew where he was for about 48 hours.
It took a while, but a much shorter time, to reach my sister and brother-in-law also. I was anxious about family and friends in New York and in D.C.
As we’ve been reminded many times lately, it’s been ten years. I remember it like it was yesterday.