9/11

It was a quiet morning at work, slow, not many customers. My husband was at work too. I didn’t have a cell phone yet so he called me on the store phone, knowing answering it was one of my duties.
He told me a plane had flown into one of the towers in New York City. They had the TV on at his work and were watching it. I went and told my store manager and I think he thought it was a joke or freak accident. He just commented that’s going to make a mess.
Suddenly a slow morning came to a complete halt.
The few customers who were in the store left and no one else came in. We all drifted to the personnel office where there was a TV with an antenna that got the local channels. Most of us were in there when the second plane hit the Twin Towers. By then, we were all staring at the TV in disbelief, seeing the flames coming out of the sides of the towers and seeing the people starting to jump from the upper levels to an instant death rather than being burned alive.
The horror was sinking in.
Then, as if in slow motion, the first tower started collapsing, one level at a time, gaining momentum as it fell, clouds of ash and pulverized concrete billowing outward from the bottom. George Stephanopolus was trying to tell us what was happening but he didn’t know much more than where the planes originated from and when they hit. He was in as much shock as everyone else.
Then the second tower fell and we began to realize the magnitude of the act of destruction.
I don’t remember when we learned of the hit on the Pentagon or the other plane that went down. There were rumors flying of attacks everywhere. Then we learned of every plane in the nation being grounded.
I had lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area about eight months and you could go outside and look up at any time and see at least one plane in the sky. We live in one of the approach patterns for DFW airport. I found the sound of them oppressive and nerve wracking having lived in places with little or no air traffic.
We were offered the option of leaving work to go home and be with our families and I took the offer. I went home, turned on the TV and sat on the sofa. The air silence was terrifying. The only things flying were the birds. Then air patrols out of Carswell started. Nothing like Air Force fighters flying grids to add to the tension.
In the years since, the definition of “normal” has changed and I don’t think it will ever be what it was before that day. The terrorists are still there, and still hate America. But when I hear the planes overhead now, it is a comforting sound. It means we are still safe, for now.

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