I am an English teacher. I was working on my computer and searching news web sites like every other morning. At about 8 am central time I could not get any news sites to pull up; cnn.com, msn.com, etc. I blew it off thinking the server was slow again. When my next class came in a girl, who’s father is in the Air Force and based in New York state, told me there had been a bad plane crash at that Air Force Base. My husband is also in the Air Force and is a crew member on a combat aircraft. I tried to get through to the base but the lines were busy. He finally called me and told me that 2 airliners had crashed into the towers. I was stricken with grief. My husband said he would call me with later details.
A short time later a fellow teacher came in and said she had the radio on. She told me that the news was reporting at least 8 other airliners were currently being hijacked and bound for targets they believed to be The Sears Tower in Chicago, The Transamerica Building in San Francisco, and The Golden Gate Bridge. Of course rumors and speculations were running rampant at this point. Some of the teachers were trying to get together to listen to the radio and still manage students. We were then advised by our counselors that we were not to tell the students what was happening so that they wouldn’t panic, but by this time some parents had started checking out their kids and the stories were spreading like wildfire. I came back into my classroom to try and keep my composure. Just then my husband called back to tell me that both towers had collapsed and about 8 other airliners were not responding to control tower calls. I still felt this unbelievable grief and my husband said he would call as soon as he had more news.
By this time my students wanted to know what was going on so I told them what I knew to be true so far—just the facts. As I was explaining I saw a fellow teacher signaling me from the hall. I went out to talk to her and she said the news was reporting that Washington was being bombed and The Pentagon was hit. At that point I felt the strength go out of my knees and I fell to the floor and felt as though I would throw up. I couldn’t control my tears and fear. For the first time I felt true terror. All I could say was, “This is it!” I thought that the “World War III” the country had been talking about since the 60’s had just started. This was just an unspeakable feeling of terror. The Air Force Base was completely cut off from all outside communication and I had no way of talking to my husband. I knew in this type of situation the base would go to threatcon delta, which is the highest level of security, and where the gates are closed to anyone coming in or going out. The last time military bases went to threatcon delta was on Dec. 7, 1941. I was extremely terrified because of the significant military force of this base. I wondered if it would be bombed. As soon as I reached my conference period I used my cell phone to reach my mom. She told me the latest, that a plane had hit The Pentagon, The White House and Capital were evacuated, and President Bush was in the air on Air Force One. When I got out of school I drove to the base and I couldn’t believe the security. It was only after I got home that I found out that President Bush had just given a press conference here and was back in the air aboard Air Force One. Suddenly Barksdale AFB, my husband, and his fellow B-52 crew members had their place permanently engraved into the pages of history. Since Sept. 11th many of the people I know and love, including my husband, have been flying bombing missions over Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Life as we knew it will never be the same. Not ever.