In September, 2001 I was 19 years old. I lived with my parents on our farm in the country and commutes to the nearest â€œcityâ€ about 45 minutes to work at a hotel as a desk clerk. On September 10th I had worked until 11, which put me in bed late that evening. Yet I was up early as usual. My parents were going hunting at a friend’s farm down the road. I dropped them off around 7:30am (CST).
When I returned home, I fixed a bowl of cereal and turned on the news, which was just reporting that a small plane had hit the World Trade Center. Like so many others, I was puzzled how a plane could hit the tower in perfect weather and broad daylight. I thought about the horrors of being trapped in a burning building. My parents had lost a home to a fire before I was born and fires always made me think of that. I prayed for the people who were trapped at the top, and hoped that they could be saved by helicopter from the roof.
I was watching along with the world when the second plane hit the South tower. I screamed in horror, and slid off the couch onto my knees. I prayed and prayed as tears filled my eyes. I prayed that everyone was able to get out and that people would feel no pain.
As events unfolded at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, I began to be very scared. I lived as far away from a major city as one can, but seeing Flight 93 go down concerned me. And with the Pentagon also being attacked, who knew where the next attack would be?
More than anything I felt alone. I called a couple friends but they were at work (most of us didn’t have cell phones back then). I really wanted my parents. They weren’t scheduled to meet me at our pickup spot for another two hours. But I got in the car and drove to the road and blew the horn for several minutes until they came to the edge of the field. I told them they had to get in the car, that it was like the World was coming to an end!
I hastily caught them up to speed on what had happened. They were stunned and my dad, especially, seemed very somber and concerned. He wasn’t a man to show worry.
We spent the rest of the day, and many days thereafter, glued to the television. I think I just couldn’t process all of the evil that had just taken place. Friends of ours were delivering supplies with their church to ground zero, so we donated items and signed a banner which was delivered to be Shanksville on the way.
Although I was far removed from any of the tragedies, 9/11 had a profound impact on me. To this day, the date is sacred. When we are planning meetings at work, or something for the kids, I keep that day free. I always listen to the reading of the names, and continue to learn about those who perished, and those who survived but whose lives have been changed. I have taught my children as much as I can about that awful day, and as they get older, plan to help them learn more. My goal is to help them realize the significance of that day, and to never forget.