09.10.2010 – That Day – Where I was on September 11th, 2001
It was a beautiful, clear, crisp late-summer morning in mid-September. There was not a cloud in the sky and the sunshine seemed particularly bright and warm. I was busy going about my usual routine in the computer engineering lab at work. The typical hustle and bustle of the office was serving its usual purpose of creating just the right amount of white-noise to break the deafening silence that the lab could be immersed in.
My coworker, who would frequently drop odd-ball comments at me while passing my desk, had a particularly interesting thing to say this day. It was about 8:50 am when he walked by and said ‘A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center’. Of course, a statement like that awoke me from my working stupor, and I immediately had the picture of a small single-engine private plane that had wandered off-course hitting the side of the building. So I asked him (he’s a pilot by the way), “Was it a Cessna?” His response was chilling… “No, it was a jetliner”!
The image in my head rapidly changed. What? A Jetliner? How could that happen? Had it had engine trouble or hydraulic failure? What could possibly have lead to a plane hitting such a populated place?
At that time, our network operations center had a huge wall of video screens for monitoring the network. Several of the screens, though, would have news stations on all the time. So, I locked down my PC and headed up there to see what was going on. The first tower already had a large trail of smoke coming out of it. I watched in amazement, still not believing what I was seeing. It was probably about 5 minutes later, when I watched in real time as the 2nd plane hit the other tower. I became terrified. What was going on?
After standing and watching in amazement as both towers eventually came tumbling down, and the pentagon was hit, I heard the news of a 4th plane missing and suspected to be over Pennsylvania. The terror was officially hitting close to home, I thought. I left work. I didn’t say a word to anyone, I just left work. All I could think about was getting home to my girls. Who knew what else was going to happen. How many more attacks were about to take place.
During the seemingly eternal ride home, I found myself looking towards the skies, wondering if the next plane I saw was going to come crashing down here. Obviously, that did not happen, but I had never experienced anything like that in my life, so I didn’t know how to process it all. The fear was real. It was intense.
I remember, later that evening, after spending the whole day watching the horror on the news, sitting outside and listening. For the first time that I could remember in my life, there was no sound of planes flying over. It was creepy and surreal.
September 11th, 2001 changed a lot of things in my mind. It started me on a very difficult journey of self-discovery and introspection. It was a journey which wound its way through some very dark valleys over the following several years. But, once I found my way through the darkness, I feel I’m a better person for it. I would much rather; of course, it never had to have happened that way. I will never forget 9/11, as should none of us.