On September 11th it looked to be just like another day in Army recruiting. I was doing my regular morning web read of the news for the day. I had just had DSL installed and had loaded MSNBC just in time to see about the first plane hit being posted on their “front page”.
Normally when MSNBC does this you have to wait a bit before getting to click on the image to read the story. I waited a bit and clicked reload, well the page wouldn’t come up, I figured it was just the DSL acting up again, so I left for work. I was listening to the radio about the first crash and stopped at the local store to get my coffee as I do every day, at this point I was thinking the same thing I think most people were thinking. That this was a horrible accident, how could it happen? Just after I left the store and got back in my car I heard about the second crash. I knew this one could not have been an accident, that we were under attack by someone. I probably got to the office a little bit faster than usual breaking a few speed limits on the way because if there was ever a day in recruiting that would stand out this would be the one.
We held a very quick meeting right away as to what we were going to do for the day and called higher headquarters to see if there were any special instructions. First of course we checked the office for any unexplained packages and the cars to make sure nothing was “strange” about them. But the day progressed fairly normally. I had a High School visit schedueled for the day that I still did and latter I made some phone calls to people.
This was probably the one day in Iowa when no one wanted to join the Army. Parents were worried about a draft. Kids were worried about a draft. The only people who were not concerened were the Prior Service Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. While they were not coming in saying “Sign me up” (which we cannot do in an Army Recruiting Station anyway) they were wondering if “they were needed” or being “recalled” to active duty. I would say though that fear ruled the day.
The Army recruiting station stayed open until after 6pm answering questions and calling people. All three of us Army recruiters were of course concerened for our family and friends but we also had a job to do. Alot of other stores in the Mall I work in closed for the day, including the other two services recruiting stations (which I don’t blame them for they are single person stations and security was a concern).
I would have to say that in many ways 9/11 was a regular day for an Army Recruiter when we saw the best of people (in the prior service) in their bravery to be willing to join if needed, and the worst of people in the fear. But even in the worst people (those who we have talked to before and treated us in a demeaning manner) we did see a kind of easing of tension where they understood I wasn’t calling to talk to them about themself or their kin joinging the Army, but rather I, and the other recruiters, were calling to add a level of comfort and try and reassure people.