Today I'm linking up with Andrea at Momfessionals for Show and Tell Tuesday. The topic this time is "Where Were You on 09/11?"
Whenever I think back on 09/11, I always equate it with Pearl Harbor Day. Whoever was alive on December 7, 1941 will always remember where they were on that day. The same holds true for those of us alive on 09/11.
I was living in Honolulu, Hawaii at the time. Since the attacks happened in the morning, it was about 4:00am in the islands. My parents received a call from one of my grandparents on the eastern side of the mainland. My parents woke up my older brother and they tuned in to the local news channels as things unfolded. My parents chose to let my younger brother and me continue to sleep. I was 14.
When I got up, my dad put his arm around my shoulder and walked with me into our living room. He said "Our country was attacked early this morning in a terrorist attack. We will be at war." My heart sank. It's a weird feeling when someone tells you that freedom was robbed, and your country will soon be at war. New York City is my favorite city in the world, and I ached for the families of those who were killed. My dad's mom lives just north of Washington D.C., and we made sure to connect with her to verify that she was okay.
My older brother went to his high-school and my younger brother went down the street to the elementary school. I was home-schooled at the time, and I did my classes through videos. Every time I changed a video for a different subject that day, the news would be on the TV. It was hard to turn away. I remember that my mom had to work that day (she's a nurse) and she called me at lunchtime to tell me not to watch TV. She told me to change out my videos without looking at the ever-unfolding news stories. It was hard not to look.
My dad was the pastor of a Southern Baptist church on O'ahu. The congregation was 95% military families. Prior to 09/11, it was very easy for a civilian to get on base (Hickam Air Force Base, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Schofield Barracks, Tripler Army Medical Hospital, etc.). The military used their alphabetical codes to alert us to the threat level of the base. Most of the time prior to 09/11, the code was A for Alpha. Very easy for a civilian to get on base. Just tell the guards where you were going, and off you went. On 09/11, things changed. It was a shut down. The code went to D for Delta and stayed there for weeks. Every car was searched. Civilians were pretty much guaranteed not to be allowed on base. This really hindered my dad's ability to visit church members. After a few weeks (or maybe months?) the code became C for Charlie, and military personnel could meet a civilian at the guard shack to obtain a visitor pass to get on base. By the time I could drive, which was 2 years after 09/11, the code was B for Bravo. It still required me to pull over at the guard shack and wait for my military-family friends to come obtain a visitor pass for me, but at least we were able to get back on base.
In April 2002, my mom and I flew to Tampa Florida to meet up with my grandmother and a group in her community who were travelling to New York City for a broadway show trip. While we were in NYC, we stopped by Ground Zero. There was still so much debris.
In March of 2005, my older brother got an opportunity to play with our Hawaiian high school's wind ensemble at Carnegie Hall. He flew to NYC with the other members of the band, and my parents and younger brother and I followed a few days later to hear him play. My parents, younger brother and I stopped at a Burger King near Ground Zero and the upper level of Burger King had windows overlooking Ground Zero. Three and a half years after the attacks, and clean-up was still going on. My dad, younger brother, and some of our grandparents, went to see Ground Zero on that trip. I stayed behind with my mom and we just watched from the windows.
In 2006, I went to college and met a girl there who would soon become one of my very best friends. She was from New Jersey. I'll never forget the things she told me when we got on the topic of 09/11 one day. Her aunt worked in Manhattan and was running late and missed the bus to work-- at the World Trade Center. She decided since she was late, she might as well be later, and get a nice coffee at Starbucks. When she stepped out of Starbucks, she saw the smoke. Had she been on time, she would have been in the towers. She told my friend never to be angry if you're running late because there's a purpose for everything.
This friend was attending a New Jersey middle school on 09/11. She said that during the day, the teachers started closing the blinds in the classrooms. Then periodically, office staff would come get certain children out of their rooms. The student body later learned that the teachers closed the blinds in order for the children not to see the smoke on the skyline. The children who were pulled out of classes were children whose parents worked at the towers. My friend said she could smell the smoke as school got out that day.
The whole day is enveloped in tragedy.
I have heard great things, though, about the 09/11 Memorial Museum in Manhattan. I hope to be able to see it someday.
09/11 is a day I'll remember forever, as should we all.
Where were you on 09/11?
Linking up with Andrea today at Momfessionals.
Until Next Time,
Much Love, Reba