On 9/11/01, I was sitting in my cubicle at work.
I was employed by a major corporation that year when one of my co-workers ran into our area and said, “Someone just flew a plane into the World Trade Center.”
And ran out.
He gave no details and first we all thought it was someone who had flown a small engine plane into it by accident.
No one told us any different.
Later another co-worker had to be carried out of the office because she was crying hysterically. We later learned her brother worked at the WTT. I never found out if he made it out alive. Finally I walked over to where everyone had gathered to see what exactly was going on. Shock doesn’t begin to describe how we all felt. There was something surreal about the whole event. We felt we had all been gut-punched. We couldn’t breathe. We felt sick. I can’t find the words, even this writer couldn’t find the words.
The next thing we knew our building had to be evacuated.
Some sick individual had called in a bomb threat.
Actually threats were called in to several major businesses.
As I exited my building I saw the office across the street had also been evacuated.
People milled around in the parking lot.
My car was parked in their lot as there wasn’t enough room in ours so I ran over and asked the attendant if it was all right.
He seemed unconcerned.
He didn’t know what was going on.
I rushed into the lot and as I did I heard one of the gathered people say, “I heard it was a car bomb.”
Just as I reached mine.
It didn’t come together in my mind until I was behind the wheel. I just wanted to get away from there. I remember sitting in my car for fifteen minutes, paralyzed with my hand on the key, thinking, is this it? Is this how I’m going to go out?
I finally turned the key. Had to avoid the crowd standing there but I finally got out. Drove straight home. I called my mother to see if she was all right and let her know I was. I didn’t leave the house for the rest of the day.
When I returned to work I had carried a radio with me. No one seemed to have a problem when I turned it to the news and talk radio and we all listened to what was happening in NYC.
Then something started to happen that truly scared me.
People started to call in advocating violence against anyone of Middle Eastern descent.
That we should just “get rid of them all now or deport them now”.
At that point we didn’t truly know who was responsible.
I wasn’t long before people started suggesting we deport everyone who “isn’t American”.
The DJ finally said the next person who called in with that crap would get torn a new one.
I recall going on a writer friend’s message board and telling people not to advocate this type of violence and I was accused of basically not caring. “Are you saying we shouldn’t do anything?” “That we should just accept what happened?” Were some of the comments I received. Where the dumbasses got that from my saying, don’t go out and kill someone because they’re a certain nationality is a mystery to me to this day. The ironic this – when I asked my friend to help me get my message across on the board he said, “No, I don’t want to think about this anymore, I just want to forget this happened.” I thought, “Are you fucking serious?” That was the last time I spoke to him.
I knew we would never forget this. I knew then things would never be the same. What I try to do though is focus on the fact that the majority of American’s rallied together in that time of great crisis. That we were united in our shock and horror and how so many people risked everything to lend a hand. How other countries also showed they were with us and shared in our tragedy. We took care of the man responsible. Again, I won’t comment except to say now, may their souls rest in peace.
So take a moment to reflect. It doesn’t have to be too long, just a nod. Look at an article or post on a blog. Comment on Facebook or ask someone, “Do you remember where you were?”