I was in high school, on my way to class that morning, in the backseat of a friend’s powder blue Geo Prism. While listening to Mancow’s Morning Madhouse, we heard a report that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.
My two friends in the car were having an argument concerneing their thoughts on a particular movie and barely registered the broadcast. I was shocked by the news, but assumed it was some sort of terrible accident, picturing a small prop plane that had somehow flown horribly awry.
We arrived at school and started the day. Just as morning advisory period was ending, a girl ran to the classroom door shouting that there was a second plane. It had hit the second building.
My head was spinning. These were commercial planes. America was under attack.
By the time I got to Ms. Steenveld’s first period Econ class, every TV in the building was on.
As the daughter of a perpetual business-traveler, I was absolutely paralyzed with fear; I didn’t know where my father was. Even though we lived in the same house, we routinely went a few days without crossing paths and I never could keep track of his schedule.
I didn’t know if he was in New York that morning; if he was traveling; if he was on one of those planes.
I excused myself to the nurse’s office. I don’t think Ms. Steenveld even heard me say I was leaving- she was staring slack-jawed at the TV monitor, like everyone else.
From the nurse’s office I called my mother, just as reports broke on TV that a third plane had hit the Pentagon. As soon as I heard her voice I started crying hysterically. I managed to get out a very broken “Where’s Dad?” between waves of panicked sobbing.
“He’s here. He’s safe.” She was crying too.
The rest of the day is blurry. My mother came and picked me up from school but I have very little recollection of the drive. Once home I turned the radio in my room to NPR and spent the rest of the day listening to the news reports while, literally, hiding in bed, under the blankets.
I remember holding my breath the rest of the day, the rest of that week, maybe the rest of that year, waiting for the “other shoe” to drop. I was deeply afraid the Sears Tower in my hometown of Chicago would be the next target, a thought that overwhelmed me completely.
The fear was profound, but in time it lessened. The hurt, pain, loss, frustration, and enormous sense of violation also began to heal with time, but still can be recalled vividly and is never too far from mind.
This last decade has perhaps been America’s humblest; this anniversary marks a decade of war, terrorism, financial crisis, natural disaster, infringement on civil liberties, and political polarization. But it also marks a decade of fearless, unwavering patriotism, resilient spirit, and relentless effort to keep us, and the world-at-large, safe from future attacks.
We still have a long way to go on the road to being a more-perfect nation, but I am deeply grateful and proud that we did not give into the fear of that Tuesday. We continue forward as a nation unbroken, and even though we have differences, United We Still Stand.
LadyKBrandt, Editress-in-Chief, The Brandt Standard