I was 23. Commuting in to Washington, D.C. from Bethesda, Md. like most days. I remember thinking how clear blue and beautiful the sky was that morning. The oppressive heat from the summer had subsided and it was the start of fall… so clear and crisp. The weather everyone in the D.C. area seems to look forward to and cherish when it arrives.
I was rounding a corner as I headed into Dupont Circle and heard the first announcement on the radio. No one knew what the true story was. The World Trade Center was burning. Protesters were in NYC for the WHO meeting. Had THEY attacked?
I arrived to my office and began watching the news with my coworkers. Soon we saw in horror, along with the Today Show hosts, as the second plane few into the second building. And then the Pentagon was hit, just miles from where we were. You could see the smoke from the top of our building.
And then the rumors started– bombs on the Mall, bombs on the Metro, an attack on the White House. Sheer terror. The Internet didn’t work. Phones didn’t work to call loved ones. No one had any information.
Before lunch, we were all dismissed. A mass exodus like I’ve never seen before. EVERYONE was driving away from the city center. The roads in the opposite direction– empty. People were walking, running in the same direction. To get somewhere safe, which was anywhere but here.
It took about 3 hours to drive to Bethesda, what took me 35 minutes just a few hours earlier. During the ride home I finally was able to hear from my mom. She had every teacher in her school calling me from New Jersey. I remember the terror in her voice when we finally were able to talk. I also remember the sounds of the fighter planes flying overhead. Then I finally arrived home. What else could I do but eat mac and cheese with my roommate as we watched more on the news.
And from then on our world was never the same. More armed military. More security screenings. All, I welcome because we are doing what we can to avoid a repeat of the worst day of many people’s lives.
Fifteen years later, I have two small boys now. I wish they would never experience a tragedy like 9/11. However we know there are many others out there, waiting for their own day to cause pain and suffering. I thank the many people who are doing what they can every day to ensure this doesn’t happen again. I appreciate this website because it’s so important that we remember the day the world changed. Never forget. Never forget.