How is My Family Doing?

Living near Washington DC, I have been aware that it was a target for enemy attacks, but I had always thought it would be a nuclear bomb and that I wouldn't survive. Once the Soviet Union fell, that worry faded.

On the morning of September 11, I was at work, in Maryland on the northwest border of DC. Someone said a plane had hit a building in New York City. As an instructor, I had access to a TV for playing videos, so I brought it out into our cube area, plugged it in, jiggled the antenna and tuned in DC Channel 4 (NBC). The Today Show was set outside that day, and we were watching (or listening to) the commentary after the first plane. I wasn't glued to the screen (such behavior was frowned upon), so I missed the second plane's impact, but I saw it again and again on the replays. Later, as word of the crash into the Pentagon came out, I tried contacting my daughter, working in downtown DC at a government contractor. By then the land lines were clogged and the cell phone systems were overloaded. The only way I had to connect with her was to use my work email, which was a violation of company policy.

At that point I didn't care. She was far enough away that she was safe, but she was worried about some people they had working at the Pentagon. As the day progressed and Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, I was chilled to think that crashing into the Capitol or the White House could have impacted her. We agreed to stay at work and let things settle down rather than do a mad dash to our suburban home. She would have to use Metro even to get to my workplace. We waited until late in the afternoon to go home.

She had seen the Twin Towers in New York on trips there, so she knew what was lost.

I've forgotten a lot of details, like how my daughter got home, but I remember my concern for her and wondering what was next.

As a domestic company, my employer wasn't directly affected, but some employees family members were, I think. I believe my daughter's company didn't lose anyone. In the next days and weeks my daughter continued to go to work and tell us about the National Guard tanks in the streets and the businesses that had no customers. My [now ex-] husband and I went down to a restaurant near her for dinner to support them. It was nearly empty.

As the stories of those killed and the terrorists became known, I knew that even my world had changed. I would never get to see the Twin Towers. Going to work was no longer simple. Providing for continuity of business was no longer a low-probability concern. Getting on an airplane could mean death. My life or those of my family could be extinguished by actions of strangers who hated me for being an American.

Two years later I attended the dedication of the memorial in Rockville MD to its residents who had died that day. One Sunday after church my [now ex-] husband and I went there and quietly watched as the mayor opened it. It's a solemn and lovely site.

Much later a fire station that I pass on my post divorce commute to work was given a piece of a steel beam from the Towers that is displayed in front, I look at it every time I go by and remember. There is a memorial service there every year. Maybe I'll go this year.

I still haven't been to the Pentagon memorial.

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