September 11, 2001 forever changed America. Most Americans probably remember exactly where they were that morning. I wish I had written this all down years ago. My timeline is fuzzy, but the feelings from that day are still sharp and easily recalled. I’m hoping my story will encourage people and perhaps that some of you can relate. May God bless America and may He comfort everyone affected by the terrorist attacks. Here are my memories, thoughts and feelings from 9/11/01.
On the morning of 9/11/01 I was on my way to a previously scheduled medical appointment at a military clinic on Fort Meade, MD. My husband was already at work (at his military job). As I drove towards Fort Meade I listened to a book on cd. I don’t remember what cd. I do remember later wishing that I’d had the radio on instead.
The line of cars to get on post was significantly longer than usual. I guessed that there had been an accident or perhaps the installation was conducting an exercise (practice for military related events). As I approached the guarded gate I remember noticing significantly increased security. When it was finally my turn, I remember being grilled about my business on post and having to present more identification than usual. I was confused as to why the soldier was being so hard on me. This is when I started to realize that something was wrong. Very wrong. I asked him what was going on and he looked at me like I was crazy. He didn’t, or maybe couldn’t, say anything. I didn’t know it yet but the first plane had already hit the World Trade Center.
Figuring that if something was very wrong my appointment would probably be cancelled but if it wasn’t I’d better report in so my husband didn’t get in trouble because I missed an appointment (the military service member is responsible for their “dependents” activities on post) I proceeded to the clinic.
Upon arriving, there were plenty of cars in the parking lot so I figured maybe everything was fine after all and hurried to check in to my appointment. People were scurrying around the hospital and crowded around the few television sets. I couldn’t see the screens but I started thinking that perhaps something was wrong after all. When I arrived at the check in desk there was no one available to assist me or inquire about what was happening. I finally found a nurse. He informed me that all appointments were cancelled. I asked him what was going on. His face contorted with anguish. He could hardly talk but he managed to say something like, “find a TV”.
When I got back to the area that had televisions the crowds had thinned. I looked up and saw as one plane and then another crashed violently into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. I couldn’t believe it. Terrorism. Violence. Death. Destruction. Planes were being grounded but there were still plenty in the air. I prayed for everyone involved. I prayed that the attacks would stop. I prayed for strength, because I thought my legs would give way right under me (I was still standing).
I tried to call my husband but couldn’t get through. I figured that with the long lines to get on and off the installation I might as well finish the plans I had for the morning. Next stop was to visit a client. I can’t remember if I was able to call her or if I just showed up. I do remember that she was visibly shaken when she answered the door but still managed to be incredibly kind to me. While driving over to her house the Pentagon was struck by the third plane.
All I could think about was whether my husband was safe. But the phone lines were all tied up. No matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t reach him. While he usually works on Fort Meade, it was possible that he had business at the Pentagon that day. I had no way of knowing for sure where he was or if he was ok. I remember calling over and over and praying for everyone involved. I don’t know how long I was at my client’s house. It had to have been at least an hour. We watched the news and I kept trying to call my husband.
Finally, I decided to head home. Fort Meade certainly wouldn’t be any safer than home and just maybe my husband might have left a message for me there. It was many hours before I found out that he was safe. I’m not sure that I ever prayed so long or so hard in my life before. I knew that I loved my husband but this experience showed just how much. Still, the day wasn’t over.
As relieved and happy as I was to see my husband, my heart still ached for all the lives lost in these senseless attacks. We both sat in silence watching the news. We prayed. We prayed a lot. The mourning lasted a long time. My new job as a Department of Defense contractor started in October and the duties changed some because of the attacks. The increased security and THREATCON (threat condition) levels were a constant reminder of the tragedy.
Although the mourning didn’t stop completely, seeing people rally around each other and all the increased charitable giving and work being done to help those affected by the terrorist attacks did give me hope. Faith in God gave me hope. Knowing that He has a plan, far above my ability to understand, to work all things for good comforted me. To this day I still cannot understand why this was allowed to happen. I doubt I will this side of heaven. But I do know that there is always hope. God is always there and He wants us to pour our hearts out to Him. He offers to carry our burdens. I find that life is much easier when I let Him do just that and rest in His loving arms. May God comfort you too.