My story isn’t unlike most others.
A junior at MSU, I was laying in bed bleary eyed, listening to the Today show not wanting to get up for my Business Communication class when the first plane hit. Â Cameras immediately took to the Trade Towers and Matt Lauer began describing the situation as best he could with little information about what just happened. Â At that point, it was an “explosion”.
Then the second plane hit. Â I did what any other normal, sane person would do (read: anyone obsessed with news and current events) – I popped a tape into my VCR and hit record. Â Yeah. A VCR. Â Remember those things?
Looking back, I have no idea what really compelled me to do it other than I wanted to see what was going on by watching the tape when I got back from class. Â Because I thought I was going to class that day.
As I got ready I made a phone call to my dad, who lived in Chicago at the time, Â to make sure he wasn’t at work downtown in a tall building. Â (Remember: no one knew what was going on then…) Â He picked up the phone.
“Hey Dad, just calling to say hello and make sure you’re not working downtown today.”
“Nope. Â Not in Chicago today. Â I’m in Manhattan for the day on business. Do you know what’s going on?”
The line went dead.
He was calm and cool. Â He didn’t know what was going on. Â Just that something was going on.
The next moments were like a scene out of a movie.
I frantically called again and again. Everyone was trying to call loved ones. Â Networks were bogged down. Â 20 minutes or so went by. Â Could have been longer.
I finally got through. Â I quickly and I’m sure eloquently, spit everything out as fast as I could because I didn’t want the line to cut out again before I told him:
“Planes hit the Trade Center. Â 2 of them. Â There’s something going on at the Pentagon too. Â They think it may have been another plane. They’re saying something else about another plane not responding.”
“We’re under attack. Â I’m going to get to the airport to get home.”
“Dad. Â DAD! Â Do NOT go to the airport. Â They’ve shut everything down. Â They think they used planes! Â Don’t go to the airport.”
The line went dead again.
I tried calling him again and again but it was hopeless. Â It took 3 hours before I got ahold of him. Â He told me he was okay. Â He told me how he still hoped to get a flight out tomorrow. Â He explained he was going to be sharing a hotel room with 4 other people he met since every hotel in a 50 mile radius was now booked by day business travelers hoping beyond hope to get home soon. Â He told me the new New York City skyline was heartbreaking.
It took him another 5 days to get out of NYC. Â He eventually rented a car and drove back to Chicago. Â But he got home. Â Thankfully. So thankful.
I’m sure in hindsight he wouldn’t have headed to the airport. Â I’m sure in hindsight my dad wished he would have just rented a car, right off the bat. Â I’m sure in hindsight he wouldn’t have asked me what was going on. Â I’m sure in hindsight he probably wouldn’t have told me he thought we were under attack.
But that’s the thing about these moments we all remember. Â The moments that change our lives. Â They are raw, unfiltered.
Do you remember that? Â Do you remember the panic we all felt? Â Do you remember how those moments became a cohesive, unifying declaration that we all are Americans and we all are in this together? Â Do you remember that?
I miss that.
In an election season filled with unending finger pointing and divisive issues that spew hate filled diatribes, it’s hard to remember that unity existed. Â It’s hard to remember that beyond partisan differences, we can communicate effectively. Â Respectfully.
Try to remember that this election. Â We’re more than capable of unity in a sea of differences. Â Let’s hope that on September 12th and beyond, the politicians remember it, too.
On a sidenote: Â I just talked to my dad who again, is traveling for work today (he tends to do that a lot) and we reminisced about this time 11 years ago. Â I was in full on panic mode trying to call him. Â He was using his negotiating skills trying to get a hotel room. Â And 11 years later, I’m blogging about it. Â Times sure have changed.
Where were you on September 11th?