At the time of the attacks on America, I was working for an office supply store in our hometown. I was working on September 11, from 8:00 to 1:00. I do not listen to the radio or watch TV in the mornings while I am getting ready for work, so I had no knowledge of the attacks until I walked into work. Oddly enough, either I paid no attention or no one mentioned the attacks on the radio as I drove from my home to work.
One of my managers was standing in our center aisle with a small display TV turned on. Joan usually watched Good Morning America before the store opened, so this in and of itself was not unusual. She turned as I walked past and asked if I had seen what had happened, to which I replied no. Then they showed it, before she could even tell me – the first plane flying into Tower 1 and the anchor of the show was screaming “Oh my God!”. We were still watching the plane fly through the tower over and over when the second tower was struck, and all of the sudden this went from a freak accident to a sickening attack.
We kept the television on all day after that. None of the employees who worked that day did anything productive – nor did we have many customers to serve. Most of the people who did bother to come in that day just wanted to stand and watch the television with us. We knew our clientele would be drastically reduced that day. You see, I live in Killeen, Texas, and we’re located right next to Fort Hood, which just happens to be the largest army base in the Western Hemisphere. When the planes hit, the base shut down. No one could get on or off, at least not without sitting in line for 2 hours and having ID’s checked and cars searched.
No one knew how this would affect our soldiers who call Killeen and this area home. Would we be sending troops out immediatly? We all knew that our city would be affected by this tragedy, and it was. For a week or so, you didn’t see as many soldiers as you once saw around town in their BDUs. It was such an ordeal to get back on base that they weren’t even bothering to leave. Businesses suffered, restaurants were left half empty….some even closed.
My time to clock out and go home that day could not have come fast enough. After the reality set in of what was happening, I just wanted to go back home and climb back in bed. I did return home and slip back into my pajamas, where I stayed for the next 2 days. I’m glad I had those days off. I needed to stay home, although I couldnt’ seem to keep my eyes off CNN. It was all I watched – the night of the attacks I stayed up until 3 am watching, and then when I woke up at 5 to use the restroom I turned it back on for a few moments to see if anything new had happened. I spoke to my parents on the phone, my husband sat in line at the gas station for nearly an hour getting gas, and we generally sat around with panic and a sense of confusion. What would we do now?
I was changed – for the first time in my life I was actually scared for my freedom, a feeling I had never felt before. I was only 23; I was not supposed to be afraid, but afraid I was. I still cry every time I attempt to sing the Star-Spangled Banner. But maybe that’s how it should be – it’s such a beautiful song.
Someday I will visit New York City and I will see “Ground Zero” firsthand. It’s just something I have to do.