11 September 2013

11 September 2001

The sky was azure, that kind of heart-aching blue that only comes during the waning days of summer. The day was beautiful, full of promise and hope and just a hint of autumn.

Like most people, my memories of 9/11 continue to be in sharp bas-relief. I remember exactly what I was doing that morning; the morning that change so much for all Americans.

I was in the newsroom, finishing up a news story. It was Monday and most likely, I had been to a school board meeting the night before (that is one part I am unclear about.) Other reporters also were working, and it was the typical, hectic morning of an afternoon paper being put together. The editor, Jack, was laying out pages while the television played in the background.

The first plane hit the World Trade Center tower. Many of us rushed into Jack's office, no doubt thinking about how this new development, this accident, would screw up deadline and possibly make the paper late.

Then the second plane came into sight, calmly flying toward the World Trade Center, until it finally crashed into the building. I said, "That was no accident.)

All hell broke loose.

I was told to get Rep. Dave Camp's Washington office on the phone. I did, after swallowing several Xanax and praying. I remember talking to a woman, and then she suddenly said, "I have to go." She hung up.

The Pentagon had been hit by a third plane.

The next few hours seem to move in fast-forward motion in my head, each activity cramming itself against the next one. Rushing to the airport to talk to people. Teaming up with several other reporters to find and interview the airport's manager. Driving back to Midland, encountering long lines at every gas station.

Looking up at that azure-tinted sky, wondering what had happened.

I got home around 11:30 p.m. I sat in my car, staring up at the black night thick with stars. Something was not quite right with the sky. It was too clear, too empty. Too cold.

Suddenly it occurred to me: the ubiquitous air traffic was gone. Nothing moved in that night sky except for a few faint satellites, slowly circling the earth, devoid of any knowledge of the enormous tragedy that had occurred that day.

The night sky was empty, and so were thousands of families. Moms and dads, sisters and brothers, loved ones and friends — many did not return home that day. They were dead, mingled with the ashes and fire that consumed the Twin Towers and Pentagon and an empty, grassy field in Pennsylvania.

I cried, hurting for all the loss and fearful for the future.

I had no idea what impact these terroristic attacks would have on me, the nation, the world.