Today I am married, my children are grown, and my parents have passed away. I commute to Chicago by train and work at a law firm. I daily see tightened security and it is always in the back of my mind to be aware of activity around me. I will never forget that tragic day fifteen years ago that changed our culture.
It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I was a single mom with three young school age children, and I commuted to work in Chicago on the train. The kids and I woke up at 5:30 that morning ready for another day. As routine goes, we had prepared the night before with our clothes set out for school and work. My children had their lunch money, books and homework in their backpacks and my commuter bag and purse were set at the door ready to go.
However, plans went astray when my eight year old son awoke not feeling well enough to go to school. I called my mom to ask her to babysit so I switched plans to drive in to work rather than take the train.
While driving my ten year old son to school, breaking news was broadcast on the car radio that at 7:46 a.m. (Central Time) an airplane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center Buildings in New York City. Discussion on the radio was a possible mechanical failure. From school as we drove on to my mom’s house, more breaking news came on the radio. At 8:03 a.m. (Central Time) another plane had crashed into the second tower. Now the discussion on the radio was terrorism.
Once at my mom’s home, I got my son comfortable in the front room and settled him in to watch cartoons. I then joined my mom and dad in front of the small television at their kitchen table watching in disbelief the terror of 9/11 unfolding as we saw the Twin Towers burn and slowly collapse. We saw people running frantically away from the smoke and flying debris. My elderly parents had already lived through the experience of Pearl Harbor and World War II, but the greatest difference this time is that this was occurring on American soil.
I contacted my supervisor at work, and she said to wait to come in because federal and state buildings in Chicago had already closed and our law firm was waiting to hear when they were going to close. Notice came at 10:30 a.m. An email was sent notifying everyone that our office was closing. Our firm joined the mass of people who like herds of cattle evacuated Chicago due to the possible threat of attacks on government buildings, the Sears Tower or any other skyscrapers.
After watching hours of television with my parents, my son and I went home and we pulled out our American flag and proudly displayed it on our front porch.
The days and weeks following changed dramatically. I felt it the next day when the train car had a subdued silence as commuters sat reading the morning newspapers with the details of the attack. I felt it at work when I was now required to show my building security card to be able to enter the building and ride the elevators. I felt it as I sat on the 37th floor near a window that had a southeast view of Lake Michigan and the skies were completely clear of air traffic as all flights were now grounded and it was now eerily silent.
Keeping Your Memories of your experience will preserve this moment of history for future generations to reflect on.
– Where were you on 9/11?
– What changes in security have changed for you in your work place?
– Do your children or grandchildren remember this tragic day?