Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What do you remember?

People in the past few generations like to ask, "Where were you when President Kennedy was shot?" Me, I was about five years away from being born. But six years ago, a horrible event allows me to answer the newer question, "Where were you on 9/11? What's your memory?"

I remember waking up that morning at 5 a.m. and getting ready to go to work. I walked out of the house at about 5:40. It was still dark outside, with just the barest hint of light on the eastern horizon. The air was crisp, and I remember looking up at the sky, seeing how clear and cloudless it was, with its blanket of stars. I found Orion, which has always been my habit when looking at the stars, and I thought of my father who taught me how to find Orion. He'd been gone for more than 12 years at that point, but I still carry that memory. I climbed into my car thinking, "Today is going to be a good day."

Three hours later I'm staring at my computer screen, realizing just how wrong I was, as I read the earliest bulletins on what happened in New York. An hour or so later, many of us gathered in our boss's office, watching the television, hearing the horrors of what was going on in the city. I remember looking out his couldn't see the Pentagon from his office because of the distance, but you could see the Washington Monument, so you knew which direction to look. That day, you didn't need the Monument to know where the Pentagon was. Your eyes just looked for the plume of black smoke.

Rumors began circulating about bomb threats at Dulles airport, which scared my friend Summer, because her son's day care was very close to the airport. Then we all sat and watched in silence as the Towers fell.

Our office building wasn't in any danger, yet management knew no work would be done this day, so word was spread that we were closing for the day. As soon as I heard that, I was out the door in two minutes. I called my mother as I drove home, letting her know I was okay. Although she knew that none of us (my sisters and I) were in any real danger, she just wanted to hear from us herself...and I just needed to hear her as well.

I made it home and my roommate and I spent the rest of the day, glued to the television, except for the time or two we went outside to watch bombers streak by overhead. Overhead in that beautiful cloudless sky that had once hearalded a beautiful day.

That's my memory...and may I never forget.

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