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Where were you on 9/11? September 10, 2010

My husband and I were talking last night about impact events. An impact event is a moment never lost in the stream of daily minutia. That is why we celebrate and mourn them; weddings, births, deaths, national tragedies…we feel compelled as humans to venerate the day so we never forget.

My parents still remember where they were November 22, 1963, sitting in their school classrooms wondering why their teachers were to choked up to talk. On January 28, 1986 I was home sick from 6th grade, watching television at the neighbor’s house when cartoons were interrupted to watch the live Challenger launch and then explosion. I remember driving to work on April 19, 1995 sobbing in my car when the Oklahoma City bombing was reported on the radio. These days are etched on my memory as vividly as my wedding day and birth of my children.

September 11, 2001 was an impact event felt the world over. My husband and I were in a small outback town in Australia. He was there on deployment, and I had flown to meet him. Our one year old daughter was in Chicago with her grandparents, and we had called in to check on her before going to bed. His mother answered the phone and said turn on CNN, which we did…just in time to see the second plane angle to the building and plow through. I was numb. My mother-in-law was sobbing, clinging she said to our daughter. At the time she had an office in the Chicago Sears Tower. She did not go into work for days after the tragedy, because our world had gone mad and no one knew what might happen next.

My husband and I started to pack. Within 30 minutes a car was sent to get us from our hotel, and sped to the safety of base. I spent the next two days in an underground bunker with 300 Marines preparing for…for who knew what at the time. These incredibly brave men and women were mobilized, horrified, sad, even devastated perhaps…but ready and resolved. I envied them. I couldn’t stop crying and worrying. I envied them because they could do something about it, and all I could do was kneel at the base chapel alter and pray.

They began to mobilize and I had to leave. That was a surreal drive through the outback…by myself…going 120 mph (no speed limits), dodging road trains…trying to get back to Darwin to get a plane into Sydney and then perhaps home. I barely made it to Sydney. I landed at midnight, and Ansett Airlines went out of business minutes after I landed. I was fortunate to get a hotel room in Sydney, there were very few left.

The atmosphere in Sydney was so different from the week we had been there prior. It was somber, reflective and a little frightened. I will forever be indebted, as an American, to the Australian people. They were supportive and loving to what felt like an instant community of refugees. They held memorial services for us in their churches. Everywhere I went there were hugs, tears, offers of support and prayers from complete strangers.

For me, and the many Americans I met there…waiting like me to go home…getting on an airplane felt as frightening as climbing Mt. Everest. I got one of the last tickets on the first plane to leave Australia. All I wanted to do was get to Chicago and hug my daughter tight. The only ticket I could get was into Los Angeles, and then it was unknown when I could get a flight from there…but at least I would be on home soil. I guarantee you, America never felt as much like home to me as at that moment.

It took almost eight hours to get through Sydney airport security…and no one in that line cared. We wanted them to search everything. I was flying United, and the pilot and flight attendants gave instructions through tears. Strangers hugged each other and put down their books to talk with their seat mates. People shared stories, prayed together and even held hands during take off. When we finally landed at LAX, a cheer strangled through tears and sobs, went up through the plane. On man knelt on the terminal ground and kissed it when we got off the plane. We were Americans, in that small microcosm of our country, we were united.

Landing in LAX was like stepping into a war zone. National guard soliders with M-16s and police officers geared like SWAT almost outnumbered the passengers. I literally had left one country a month earlier and returned to a completely different one. Eventually I made it home to hug my baby. I didn’t let go for a long time. I was grateful though…there were a lot of mothers who would never hug their babies again.

Although we will never forget 9/11, the farther away we have moved from it, the more its lessons fade in our minds. That is why we need to venerate the day – listen to the reading of the names, remember to hug your family, pray with a complete stranger, and hold the hands of our fellow Americans in gratitude for the wonderful country we live in.

Always Remember…Where were you on 9/11? Share your story in the comments below.

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6 Responses to “Where were you on 9/11?”

  1. annflaherty Says:

    Amie…Living near Fort Bragg, I remember all the planes coming in and out for days following 9/11. I remember sitting at a red light with a tank in the middle of the intersection. The guns were pointed at me. I sobbed, right there at that red light.

    Thank you for sharing. I hope more will do the same.

  2. rebeany Says:

    thank you for visiting my blog – i am honored – and i am happy to have found yours. so well written and, like every person in a crisis, with such a personal story to tell. my ‘takeaway’ – if you will – is wrapped up in my hopes that our country remains one where there is a separation of church and state – so that all beliefs – including non-believers – can live here together. all my best to you. i look forward to reading through your blog.
    bean

  3. akamonsoon Says:

    Amie, thanks for sharing this. My eyes are tearing up just reading it.

  4. I’ve spent the past nine years seeking answers regarding how and why 9/11 happened. I’ll never stop trying to find answers for my questions, but to be honest, the urgency lessens with every anniversary. Now, all I can do is remember the day and what life was like before…what life is like now.

    Before 9/11, life seemed simple..comparitively speaking. I remember the big news nine years ago focused on Gary Condit. Connie Chung landed an exclusive “no holds barred” interview with the beleaguered lawmaker. We crowded around our TV sets on an Indian Summer evening all those years ago, like some Fireside Chat for the New Millenium. Connie asked the questions and we watched and listened intently for his responses. Condit categorically denied having ANY knowledge of Chandra Levy’s where abouts. He knew NOTHING about the missing intern. Did we believe him?

    And really, did it matter??? This was good stuff–salaciously delicious. It had been years since the Clinton/Lewinksy debacle; we wanted more. WE NEEDED MORE and we couldn’t wait until the next juicy ConditThis was interview.

    But that never happened. Our focus shifted.

    The next morning, 19 religious zealots in four hijacked Boeing 757′s made sure of that.

    LK

  5. Sandi Peck Says:

    I was teaching school when my principal barrels through my classroom and called me into the hallway. I stepped out to see my fellow 5th grade teachers standing there with the same confused look that I am sure I had on my face. My principal simply stated, “the United States has been attacked by terrorists”. Every one of us put our hands to our mouths, I guess to cover that look you get from an absolutely shocking statement. Mrs. Lynch still had other grades to inform so she told us not to say anything to the students but to go on with our day as if nothing were wrong. How do you DO that?? My students knew! They knew because I was anxious–anxious for them to go to art class so I could turn on the TV. Anxious to call my babysitter to make sure my children were okay. Within an hour they started to question me. “Why are you acting different?” “Why do all the teachers keep opening their doors to talk to other teachers-and then shaking their heads?” Why are so many kids being checked out?” “Why are there police at our school?”

    I had the same experience of just wanting to get to my children and hugging them and making sure they knew they were safe. I remember it as clearly as any other memory too. But, I WANT to.

  6. Mark Dial Says:

    I worked at a hotel and was told by the head chef that there was a problem at the airport from a event. I went into the bar and saw the second plain hit the tower. They showed it over and over. Then they put Bin laden picture on TV as the guilty party. My impression was “Oswald did it”. as it looked like a CIA drop to convince the public. My gut told me something was clearly wrong with this one. However I did expect it would take years to find out any thing and these kind of people want us dead anyway. It was not until a few years ago the history channel did a 9/11 story that included Alex Jones as a “nut like truther”. I know not to believe the media from my 1970′s reading of JBS.org magazines and etc. To find out what was really going on back then you had to use only snail mail. I did a search on Alex Jones and started reading and listening to it all on the net. I hope you do the same. You also can take a subject of interest and find a video on You Tube but I noted they took one down on Rep. Sony Bono. He was nearly a pro at skiing. He investigated WACO and was just going to chair on military illegal drug sales. Understand gun running and the S & L scandal had just happened that may also been tied into it. . He was found dead from skiing on the ground with an indention on his head that matched being whipped by a 38. Lots of blood was found on his back going down to his under ware. However no wound was found on the bank of his head or back at all. The blood was from someone else. He may have been dragged to the spot with a tree limb after hitting someone in the nose. The snow was to tracked up to prove he was dragged so they ruled it an accident. However back to 9/11. The event of 9/11 resulted in Two wars linked the sale of opium netting the CIA 500 billion a year. The fields had been destroyed a short time before and replanted later. Oil and lithium deposits. Lithium being worth over a Trillion. 5+ Trillion in miss placed military funds and untold new corporation contracts at taxpayer expense. Bets against both airlines were made just before 9/11 and insurance taken out on the three tower buildings. You right the actions resulted in a police state today. An important side video on the Bush history can be seen on the You Tube video ” JFK 2 the Bush connection”.


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