Ten years ago today our innocence was lost. While I won't deign to speak for others, I believe that for my generation (Gen-X), the events of September 11, 2001 were the biggest and most shocking of our lifetimes. We'd mourned when the space shuttle Challenger and her crew was lost fifteen years earlier, but the events of 9/11 brought an entirely different level of pain.
There were times during that awful day when I honestly wondered if the world was coming to an end. I half-seriously told my friend in NJ that maybe today was the day we'd meet on the other side of the Pearly Gates. That seems dramatic in hindsight, but that day, with multiple planes hitting multiple major targets, almost anything seemed possible. There were times when I wondered how many planes there would be or whether nuclear weapons would be deployed. There was an agonizing period of time when my sister's husband was known to be on a plane, flying into Washington DC, and we didn't know if he was safe. (Thank the Lord, he was.)
Written in 2002, when my memory was a bit fresher as to specific details:
"I was driving to work when the regional news commentators on the radio interrupted their planned show to tell us that a plane had struck the World Trade Center. My first thought, like so many others, was that it was a small engine plane. That idea was shattered 17 minutes later when the news came that another plane had struck the other tower. I was in shock and disbelief as the radio coverage went to the BBC and then NPR and the reporters tried to find out more information. Shortly after I got to my desk, the Pentagon was struck. There was a voice mail message from my mother asking me if I knew my brother-in-law's itinerary and that was when I remembered that he was flying that day, from California to Washington D.C. I think that was the first time I cried -- when I thought of my sister, expecting their first child, waiting alone to hear from her husband. Praise God he was all right; he couldn't get through on the phone, so emailed her instead. He was on the ground at Dulles when the plane struck the Pentagon. None of the news sites on the Internet were accessible, so I instant-messaged with my friend in New Jersey off and on. She is the one who told me that first the south tower, then the north tower collapsed to the ground. It was unfathomable that these two immense structures could be gone. That all the people in the planes and in the buildings were gone. There was hope of at least some survivors, but the initial estimates of those killed was very, very high. Praise God that so many were able to get out. And may the victims killed that day rest in peace."