Where I was on 9/11
The Kansas City Star
Today is the anniversary of 9/11. Everyone keeps asking, “Where were you the day the planes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?”
Our nation will never forget the victims of 9/11.
I just wish there was a way that I could remember the victims, but forget the day. God, I would love to forget that day, what I witnessed and how I felt. I know those two things don’t go hand-in-hand.
Everyone knows where they were the day we were attacked. It’s the same way our parents know where they were the day JFK was shot.
I was on the 12th floor of my apartment building in Arlington, VA. I was watching the a morning news show as they announced a plane hit the World Trade Center. Something told me I should go to my balcony.
I loved my balcony on the 12th floor of my apartment building. If you stood on the far corner and leaned over the railing, you could see the Capitol Building. There was a tree line and over the tree line was the Pentagon. My apartment was high enough up that I could see the airplanes coming and going from Reagan National Airport all the time. I spent many days and nights sitting on that balcony, solving the world’s problems with my friends and watching airplanes fill up the night sky.
The morning of 9/11, I raced out to look over the city that I loved so much. Something told me that I needed to be on my balcony.
A large ball of smoke was rising up in the air. The plane had just hit the Pentagon. The trees were the only thing blocking my view from the full horror. I witnessed the burst of smoke a seconds after the crash happened. I just saw the evidence of the end of precious life, the horror of terrorism and a moment in history symbolized by a cloud of smoke and flames.
As the anniversary passes every year, the exact details of the rest of the day are blurry. I, like everyone else in DC at the time, searched for friends, reassured loved ones from home and prayed. I spent a lot of time on my balcony that day and the following day just watching. The skies were quiet, all except for fighter planes, helicopters and the smoke. The city was different and I was different almost instantly.
That night I somehow found my way to the Lincoln Memorial. I don’t remember what made me go down there. It was eerily quiet except for a few hundred people who had also gathered down at the monument searching for what little comfort we could find.
When I got to the monument that I cherished,in a city that I loved so much, I physically became ill. I threw up.
I shared stories with strangers of that horrifying day. I hugged people I didn’t even know.
I taped a flag in my window of my apartment so I could do something. I hope was hoping it would make me feel a little less hopeless and helpless. Truth was I felt both that day.
We will never forget. We were the lucky ones who survived that day. For those who did not survive, we will never forget you.
To all those who protect our borders, airports and harbors from future terrorist attacks, God bless you. May this country never see an attack like the one on 9/11 ever again.
Thank you for letting me share my story on this anniversary. I know we all have a story. Each person’s story is important and on this day remembering our stories helps our nation heal. I really believe our nation is slowly healing. I know I am. God Bless.