My parents generation will never forget where they were the moment they heard that JFK was shot. This generation will never forget where we were on September 11, 2001.
On September 9, 2001, we boarded a plane bound for Puerto Rico. We originally had plans to spend September in New York City but switched our plans earlier that month and decided to visit New York City later in the fall instead.
I distinctly remember going through security at the San Francisco International Airport and both of us noticed and commented that the security agents weren’t paying attention to the items under surveillance, they were more interested in their own conversation. It was disturbing, but all we could do was shrug our shoulders and continue on our vacation.
Then came September 11th, 2001.
We’re west coasters, but that morning we were on east coast time having arrived in Puerto Rico two days before. That morning, I went to the hotel’s workout facility, placed my headphones on my ears, and started my run on the treadmill. I looked up to see the television in the corner of the room and saw what looked like an airplane that had hit a tall skyscraper. I thought to myself Hollywood was trying to market another blockbuster movie with an airplane that hit a building and it was some sort of evil character involved. I kept running on the treadmill. It never crossed my mind that it could possibly be real.
People began to gather around the television. At this point, I recognized it was the World Trade Center in New York City. The other hotel guests were pointing and commenting, and wondering how an airplane could possibly have hit the building. It wasn’t a Hollywood movie, this had actually happened. I hopped off the treadmill and headed back to our hotel room.
I walked into the room to see my husband watching the same video on the television. We, like so many, wondered how this could possibly be happening. Then we watched the second plane hit and our jaw dropped. For several minutes we were speechless. I turned to look at my husband. He turned to looked at me. I said, “Who could do such a thing?” He said, “It’s Bin Laden”.
Then the Pentagon was hit. Then the World Trade Center buildings fell, one after the other. We, like all Americans, were horrified, petrified, in shock.
That morning we were scheduled to check out of our hotel, but we sat by the television until the afternoon still unable to understand what had just happened. That evening we checked into a new hotel, and sat by the television for days, just like the rest of the country. We weren’t on vacation anymore, we were mourning the incredible loss of what we had witnessed.
The airports were closed for several days and we were unable to leave until September 15th. We flew back home through JFK airport, still in fear and shock that our country had been attacked.
Later that fall, we visited New York City as planned and the wreckage of the World Trade Center. Words cannot describe the feeling of watching the embers still burning months later. Today marks ten years, and the pain, anger, and sadness still remain. Yet I am proud of the heroism of so many citizens on that day, proud of our country’s resilience in the wake of this horrible tragedy, and so proud to be an American.
Where were you on September 11th?