Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years Ago Today, America Was Attacked

Today is the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attack on the United States. As people reflect on where they were that day, I thought I would copy my diary entry here. I was surprised at how long it was, and how many details I had forgotten. I tried to minimize annotations to keep it as much like the original entry as possible.

Today has been the most devastating day in the country in my lifetime.

I woke up to my radio alarm clock around 7:45am. I intended to go in early to work but I was tired so I lay there listening to the morning show poll people about which of them needed therapy the most. After a few minutes, they said they had just received news that there had been an explosion in one of the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City. At that point it was uncertain if a plane had been the cause. I listened for a few more minutes, and then they said that a plane had crashed into the other Twin Tower for certain.

I jumped up and quickly got ready for work and went downstairs and turned on the television. There was footage of the first building on fire and while everyone was watching that, a plane could be seen flying directly into the second tower, completely demolishing a large chunk of the 150ish story building. With the first one, it was possibly a fluke, but the second was obviously deliberate. It was a beautiful, sunny, clear-skied morning. The worst part was that they were both commercial airliners. My stomach turned and I couldn't eat breakfast.

I went into the office and everyone was crowded around a TV in L's (the HR person) outer office, watching the horrific footage being replayed, over and over again. I went back to my desk to try to start working and turned the radio on. All the stations were feeding from their TV affiliates. I heard that a plane had also crashed into the Pentagon and my heart jumped. I went back to the office to see the TV. It had very poor reception and was difficult to make out but you could see the billows of smoke from one side of the Pentagon. Teary-eyed, I returned to my desk to try to focus on something else, but of course that was nearly impossible. We soon found out that the planes had been passenger flights from Boston and Washington, DC that had been hijacked. Later we leraned that the terrorists had stabbed several of the staff on board before turning their kamikaze missions on to their targets. Many people made cell phone calls to loved ones from the planes. Things had sort of settled down by afternoon when we learned of another plane crash outside of Pittsburg which apparently missed its target, and another plane that had been destined for Camp David but was apparently shot down. President Bush had been in Florida and given a brief statement in the morning soon after the initial attacks and then boarded Air Force One to return to DC via an undisclosed route that wound up including Shreveport, LA and Omaha, NB.

Then the second twin tower that had been hit collapsed. Not long after it, the first one did as well.

I was supposed to have had lunch with [former co-workers] today but we cancelled due to the tragedy. [One of them] said that it looked like a banana peeling down the sides as the building disintegrated. It wasn't until later tonight that I saw the footage and had to agree.

At one point there was supposedly a car bomb outside a government building in DC and some kind of explosion betweene the Old Executive Offices and the White House, and another plane was forced to land in Cleveland full of bombs. People began to feel we were at the brink of war and panicked to fill their gas tanks and get groceries. I needed both anyway. Luckily I filled up at the station at lunch for $1.64 - $.10 more than yesterday in Martin City, but not an unusual fluctuation. Then I went to Hen House around 4pm and became nervous and stocked up on nonperishables and water. It felt like Y2K all over again only more real. By the time I got home from work, traffic was backed up from the long lines at the gas stations. In Texas gas was reportedly $5/gallon. Later I talked to my dad who said that Casey's General Store in Basehor was at $4.50/gallon and they ran out of gas.

[My roommate] had been sent home early from the Jewish Community Center [where he worked] and [his girlfriend at the time] had been in a building next to one that received a bomb threat so they were evacuated. I decided to cancel my ticket to fly to St. Louis to visit [my sister] on September 22 as the airlines were giving full refunds for all flights, so I went to Mom and Dad's for the confirmation information [I didn't have a computer at the time] and the streets were very quiet for 6:30pm on a Tuesday. The malls were closed, the Royals game cancelled, any venue for large populations anywhere in the country - including Disney World - were shut down.

I came home (unable to find the ticket info) and Mom and Dad called - they have been in Manitoba with Dad's cousin and her husband visiting Mom's family since Saturday. Mom and I talked quite a bit about the situation and Dad insisted that they come home tomorrow. I argued that they should stay there but Dad's worried about gas prices getting worse and everything else. I don't know if they can even get across the border at this point. I think it could get worse if we declare war on someone tomorrow, but it could calm down. It's hard to say, but everyone is telling people not to travel. All flights are cancelled until further notice, and all those that were in the air were diverted to other places, one of them being KC. All international flights have been deferred to Canada. I'm worried about my friends in Colorado Springs where the Air Force base is, and my friend, Tracy, who's a flight attendant for United – two of the planes that crashed were United planes.

I lived in a bubble that kept me safe from any idea of possible war; the three greatest tragedies of my lifetime were the Challenger explosion, the Gulf War and the Oklahoma [City] bombing. This was the greatest attack on America since Pearl Harbor and a much greater magnitude. In some ways it's almost seemed like a movie – we've become so desensitized to violence – but at the same time, it's so shocking and unbelievable. [My boss] and I were all trying to figure out why today, and her theory was that it's 9/11, or 9-1-1 – emergency. That was echoed by reporters on the news tonight. We don't know much at this point, however, since no one has come forward to take responsibility, and Bin Laden has denied any link at this juncture. God bless America.
Real Time Analytics