A kid grows up
I was in the eleventh grade living in Hanover County, Virginia. I was sitting in a study hall where the teacher usually turned the news on about halfway through the time. A classmate ran in and said "turn on the TV". We did so and watched the just captured coverage of the second plane going into the towers.
We all knew something was up but not what, beyond that it was not good. For me it was a visceral feeling that "something" had changed and we would not be going back.
My dad loved my mother so much we moved down to Richmond to be closer to family, but he still commuted to DC everyday. He worked, and still does, for the Navy. He was routinely back and forth between the Navy Yard and the Pentagon for briefings. He had done twenty years in uniform and still worked for them as a civilian.
We next heard that the Pentagon had been hit, but this was sketchy information at this point. My first thought was that my dad had mentioned something about going to the Pentagon at dinner the night before. It was a place that he had taken me to a few times because I loved all the pictures and models of ships. It was a very cool place to me. I did not know enough to be scared. I was a smart kid and very aware of the world so I began to once again realize that life was changing.
The next period, Spanish, the teacher turned off the TV. Rightly so we had taken in enough and she was trying anything to reestablish some sort of normalcy. Ten minutes into class the principal and Ms. Hall (my favorite counselor) showed up, whispered to my teacher (who was a neighbor) who turned to me and quietly said "Kyle you need to go with Ms. Hall." Again, alarm bells were going off but I was still in a bit of shock from the events and not how they could be affecting me. We got to her office and my sister, who was in the ninth grade, was sitting there. She asked me "Kyle what is going on?". They called our mom and put her on speaker. She said to us, "We cannot find dad, the phones are down, but we cannot find him, please stay in this office; we'll get you home.". I am sure at that point she was breaking down and did not want us to see that. I think it sort of went over my sister's head but my thought was, "Pentagon, where is he, could he be dead?"
Two hours later, someone from the school (I cannot remember who), drove us home. The first thing we saw was my dad sitting on the front steps. His meeting at the Pentagon had been pushed to the next day that morning. His Captain had told everyone to get out of DC and he had covered the 100 miles down I-95 in about an hour (you do the math). Personally there was relief, my dad was alive (he would later survive the Navy yard shooting), but the relief was not complete. My dad being alive was the best but it allowed me to isolate on the next question, "what is next?".