I was inspired of JunkMale’s recollections to share my own…cause I was close by the action:
It really was a gorgeous early fall day in Northern Virginia as I walked my two charges to their bus stop in the morning. As usual, I chatted with the moms and other nannies and then walked back to the house. As was my custom, I showered and dressed. Then I got onto Yahoo (dial-up modem…those were the days) and saw the headline of a plane that hit the Trade Center. Immediately I logged off to run over to the TV in the basement playroom. My phone rang within seconds of my finding Fox News. It was my friend from church.
She was rattling on about how horrible it was…all those people dying. My brain was still playing catch-up. She filled me in and then we were silent as we watched the news coverage.
After pulling my wits together, I hung up on her and started calling the rounds. Parents first. Dad. At work. He and his coworkers found a cable tv connection in a conference room. [By then my folks were living in southwestern Virginia, a four hour drive away from me.] We shared some flabergasted moments…and then the reports came in about the Pentagon….
I started shrieking. Poor Dad! He had to hear me fall into a panicked mess.
The home where I lived was close to the Dulles airport. Incoming and outgoing flights went over our neighborhood regularly. The sky literally falling.
Called Mom. Dittoes with the reactions. She wanted me to hop in the car that instant and drive home.
Then onto my employer. She was one of the first to pick up the children from school. They came home to eat something. She decided to pack up the children and take a country drive. They were gone the entire day until after dinner time.
So I was alone in the house.
The phone lines were jammed. Occassionally I could get through to friends or family. Relatives (even distant ones) were calling my parents to see if I were okay.
The skies were quickly emptied of planes. It was seriously quiet. Even the dogs refrained from barking at the UPS driver.
I huddled with the fellow nannies and neighbors. For three months afterward I dreaded being alone.
Then we learned one neighbor was in NYC. Staying at the Marriot in Tower 7! He escaped less than 10 minutes before it collapsed. He was uninjured. The neighborhood men banded together to figure out how to bring him home. The escapee found a train headed south to Jersey or Delaware. They all met up and drove back to Virginia.
This neighbor-man later slipped into alcoholism. Very very sad. The tales he told are still fresh in my mind. I will keep it PG rated here. Let’s just say…it was worse than what you saw on TV….
The following days were more of a blur. I drove down the Alexandria to sit in a favorite park by the river. There were troop transport helicopters flying up and down the river. I could still see smoke coming from the Pentagon. My mother came up for a visit on September 20th. We took a little walking tour of downtown D.C. We placed some silk flowers at a memorial.
Several days later I was down ill with pneumonia. Life was wretched.
Things changed drastically in D.C. I could no longer waltz into a Smithsonian without having my bag searched and walk through a metal detector. Jersey Barriers. Everywhere. Friends lost jobs in the airline industry. Many more folks appeared at church services for a few months…then it tapered off. Our church lost three members.
To be there…to be “live” with all the confusion, fear, and rush to do something taught be lessons I’m still sorting out today. Number one: Love everyone, even your enemies you do not know are enemies.