I remember the day clearly. I was living in Rhode Island and on my way to the hospital to get my blood pressure and sugar levels checked since I was pregnant with my daughter and had gestational diabetes.
I had stopped off at the local Guatemalan restaurant in Providence to pay the landlord the rent money for the next month and when I walked in to the vacant restaurant he was standing there watching the TV in awe. As he wrote out the rent receipt, he told me that a plane had crashed into the first tower and they weren't sure if it was an accident or an act of terrorism. Seeing that plume of thick, black smoke rising from the building I knew instantly that whatever had happened...it was not good.
I headed to the hospital, a mere 4 hours away from NYC and saw scenes of chaos as doctors, nurses, and even patients were glued to televisions and computers showing live feed from the various news stations. While there, the second plane hit the remaining tower. Tears flowed freely as we struggled to comprehend what had just happened. It seemed certain now that this was no accident. Staff and patients began calling loved ones all over, many had family in NYC and were concerned about what had happened. I tried to reach my husband, working in the Boston suburbs at the time after learning that the hijacked planes had taken off from Boston. The cell phone grid was not working-calls wouldn't go in or out-and the same for the landline pay phones. Numerous calls on both resulted in a fast busy signal-which made me nervous.
My family in Maine was of course worried, and I finally got through to my grandmother, assuring her that all was okay with me and my son and husband. As I headed home from Providence, it seemed surreal. Security was tight, and I could see that all forms of public transportation (buses, Amtrak, etc...) were being tightly checked in downtown Providence as suspicion was lurking everywhere. Traffic took some time to get past various checkpoints, but soon enough, I was on the freeway, headed home. A quick call to the school assured me that all was fine with my son and that they were keeping the news from the children for as long as possible. Some parents had gone to get their children, I opted to let my son finish out the day at school and continued watching the news from home while I waited for him to arrive.
I finally was able to reach my husband's cell phone and he confirmed that the construction crew had shut down for the day and was watching the news in the lunchroom along with Gillette staff. Boston airport was locked down, and security was very tight. Due to that, and the traffic backed up for miles at other checkpoints he wasn't sure when he was going to be home. I decided that rest was probably the best thing for me at the time, and headed to the bed to watch TV and relax, as my blood pressure had raised quite a bit since all of this happened.
A little after 2pm, my almost 9 yr old son arrived home and came and laid down next to me and we spent the afternoon cuddling and watching the events unfold on TV. Probably the worst thing to see was the video of people jumping to their deaths-it was horrible-and so sad to watch. Frustration took over, and I wondered why some of the people that had made it to the roof weren't evacuated by helicopters before the buildings collapsed. Why were we watching these people that had gone up to the safety of the roof and higher floors die so needlessly? I am sure they thought that someone would rescue them from the rooftop.
After what seemed like an eternity, hubby arrived home and we turned on the Spanish TV station so he could watch the news in Spanish. I didn't feel like cooking, so we ordered out, opting for a pizza delivery because no one wanted to leave our apartment. I called my family again in Maine, and he called his family in Guatemala, telling them we were all okay in Rhode Island.
Now, 10 years later, the memories are still fresh in my mind. What I was doing, what I did, how I reacted and what this did to America as a country. My daughter, who wasn't born at the time, knows something terrible happened but really doesn't understand much about the event. She knows today our country is sad and it is an important day in remembrance of those we lost, and it defined the path that our country has taken in the war against terrorism. She didn't know why people were so happy and celebrating when Bin Laden was killed but in watching the tribute to 9/11 on the 10th anniversary today she has a better idea of why so many were celebrating his death earlier this year.
Just like those before me who will remember where they were when Kennedy was killed, or when the bombs dropped in Japan-I will always remember where I was on 9/11/2001. My sympathies go to those that have lost a loved one, the first responders who so bravely gave their lives and their health to help those in need, and those that have lost family and friends in the war against terrorism-wars brought on by the events of 9/11.