Before we get to the giveaway, please lend me your time for a few minutes to remember September 11th. I don't think I've ever posted my memories of that horrible day on this blog, I've let them out, piecemeal, on various boards, but never put down, in my own space, what that day was to me.
As most of you know, I live and work in the DC suburbs. I'm proud to be from here. I've had the chance to move several times, and, no matter what, I couldn't leave. My first job was with the Department of Defense, working at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. It was a summer job. I spent the 60 days of my employment attempting to catch a military doctor; what can I say, I was 21, it seemed like a plan at the time. While I was there, the embassies were bombed. Our response? Wear your badge, and there was an MP in the hall. Terror happened . . . away. People still came to play football on the open lawn in front of the hospital.
The job ended and I took other temp jobs, then took a full-time position at an access control company that serviced the Metro area. It didn't pay very well, but I got lots of overtime, and my co-workers were mostly young. They let me bring Chancey in when she was a puppy, as well as the kittens. Our job was to let people in buildings, and we did the job as best we could. We'd joke about the stress, we'd share war stories, but we never really took that job that seriously.
On September 11th, I was looking forward to the cruise we were taking to celebrate my upcoming 25th birthday. I'd been working hard all summer; I'd won an award for my dedication. It was an average Tuesday, I thought there was something that I was supposed to remember about the day, but couldn't figure it out (I remembered later it was my high school best friend's birthday). On the radio, they gave the weather report, and said, "A lot of people will be out of work this afternoon." They meant because of the weather, which I thought was wierd, but it turned out to be prophetic. I've remembered that through all these years. I can't remember which station it was, but it was a Top 40 station.
I found out about the tragedy because my coworker came in late. She'd been coming in at 9:15 because her oldest son needed to be dropped off at kindergarten. She ran in, and said, "Two planes just hit the World Trade Center." We couldn't grasp it. Surely it was a terrible accident, two small planes maybe, one got distracted by the smoke of the other one. My boss got online and couldn't find anything about it, so she turned on the radio. We sat for a few minutes, listening, and then they cut in that the Pentagon was on fire.
And all Hell broke loose.
My boss went to our programming department to help there. I went to the Central Station to help out on the phones. And I still didn't think this was terror. I don't know what I was really thinking. Maybe it was just a mistake. But I took those calls. And spoke to scared people. One engineer said, "I'm near the Pentagon. I think you know how important this is." I told him to be safe. And realized this was something bad, but surely we could fix it in a few days. After all, they'd bombed the embassies and life went on, mostly unchanged.
I remember the Central station supervisor telling us news flashes. The Capitol was bombed, the CIA was damaged. The highways were packed. The subways were shut down. At some point, I talked to my mom. She was unaware of anything, sitting at her desk at Walter Reed. I told her to go home, I was so scared. If they were attacking the Pentagon, what could have kept them from attacking her work? She wouldn't go, even though I was crying. I told her I loved her. I didn't know if I'd ever see her again. My mother later said she stayed to try to help. When people talk crap about government employees, I tell them gently how my mom stayed through that afternoon, in case they needed her to do anything. She only went home when she realized that they weren't bringing that many to WRAMC. I am so proud of her for what she tried to do.
At noon, I got the chance to leave Central. I walked back in our office. One of my co-workers said, "The towers fell." And I just fell into my chair. They said there were rescue people trapped. They said people jumped out of the windows. I think I asked if anyone caught them. Silly, but how does one process that? And I lost it. I just sat there. I couldn't absorb it. I had to call Best Friend Brea in Nashville to confirm it. It had to be a rumor, just like all the rumors I'd heard all day. And she confirmed it.
We looked at the Internet. I saw the pictures of the people falling. And then they said a plane had crashed in Somerset County. And no one lived. And it just got worse and worse. And then we heard this plane outside. We knew that all the planes had been grounded and this damn plane kept going overhead, outside. And we didn't know if we should call someone, but then again, why wouldn't they know about a plane? At some point, the F-16s started their fly-overs, and that felt better. In the days and weeks to come, that was a comforting sound.
At some point, I went home. I stopped at CVS for something, and we all looked like zombies. I drove home. My gramma was glued to the TV, as was my brother. We didn't turn the TV off for the rest of the week. I just wanted to try to figure out at what point, I'd know this was a dream. Because who kills people like that? How did they kill us HERE? How did they attack this city.
I went to bed that night, grateful that I'd wake up and it would be a dream. And I woke up in the blood-red dawn, and realized it wasn't. But we had to soldier on. And we have, with our broken hearts, and our new reality. They don't play football on the lawn of Bethesda anymore; they enclosed it with a fence. But we don't take our freedom, or our country, or each other for granted. I love my city, and I love my country; people died for the simple reason they were Americans, I've tried to live my life to honor that sacrifice.
In honor of those who lost their lives that day, and for those of us who survived, and who carry the memories, I am offering a kit of "Liberty for Ewe." If you would like a chance at this, please leave a comment on this post.
I wish you and your family a safe day tomorrow, a moment of remembrance, and a prayer that there is never another day like that terrible day again.