This country's collective tragedy of 9/11 is far more vivid in my mind than where I was and what I was doing nine years ago today. What happened to me that day blurs. The impressions of the events on the East Coast have taken over as my memory. While they are far more clear than what happened to me that day, I have tried to recount what was my personal experience nine years ago today.
It was early in the morning here on the West Coast. I was in Portland. I was attending my masters of law program and was renting a house with three young men, all first year law students. I was still in bed when my daughter called. I was listening to her describe what was happening, when the young man from New York started banging on our bedroom doors. At the same time he was trying desperately to reach his family back home on his cell phone.
Image via WikipediaWe all got up and gathered in the living room. No television, we were huddled around a small radio I had taken from my room. "Who would do this," one of the young men asked? "Osama Bin Laden would be my prime candidate," I answered. Then one of the other boys proceeded to explain how this was our fault based on our foreign policy.
A foreign policy lecture? Our fault? This was not the time or the place. I went to my room to get dressed. My husband called, he was watching TV when the second plane hit. He wanted me to come home. I told him I'd drive on campus and see what the schedule was and let him know. My daughter called again. Her company was headquartered in the World Trade Center. There was no contact with the people she spoke to every day and it would be days before she knew the fate of several in the WTC who had been friends. She was shaken and wanted me to come home.
Everything seemed to be in fast motion that morning. People moved faster, talked faster. Not quite panic, but certainly not calm. By the time I arrived at the Dean's office I had heard about the Pentagon. The law school was hosting a federal judges conference that day and I recognized what were surely FBI agents.
Not a good day to have that many federal judges in one spot I thought. The conference was canceled. By now, I just wanted to go home. The school left the decision to each student as to whether or not they would leave campus. I knew nothing would be accomplished in class and that my family needed my support and I theirs. I started for home.
Home was not just around the corner. Home was a three and a half hour drive. During the drive I heard from each of my children and my husband several times. About two hours into the drive I became ill. When I arrived in town I drove straight to the Emergency Room where my husband met me. I spent the night, probably the only person in the country who had not seen any of the coverage on television. Probably best, one of my nurses had assured me.
The next days would make up for that. Some of it vivid to this day. I have heard people say they try to put those images out of their mind. I do not. I consciously try to remember them. I remember them often. The young girl holding up the photograph of her father pleading for help in finding him, exhausted rescuers covered in dust, those who chose to jump to their deaths, and the collapse of a landmark, a symbol, our security. I remember. I will always remember.
Reprinted from a 2007 post.