Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11 -- and how lucky I was

Some say the events of 9/11/2001 shaped America in the 21st century -- and even the world. I can't say those people are wrong. What I do know is that, looking back on that day 11 years ago, I was a different person. And, I realized later, a very lucky one.

I learned about the planes striking the Twin Towers when my sister-in-law called. I was hard at work on a proposal to write a course about Windows XP. When she told me, I thought she was pulling my leg. But then I went up on the Internet and saw the footage of the first strike. She wanted me to go up and be with my mother-in-law because she didn't want her to be alone when she heard the news -- my father-in-law was still alive, but was out in the woods. Instead, I sent John up to tell his mother and I called my mother.

We live in Missouri and my Mom lived in California. When I called her, she had just woken up and hadn't heard. I remember sitting on my back porch, looking out into the peaceful woods, and telling her. "Mom, we're going to war."

She said, "What do you mean?"

I said, "We've been attacked. How can we not go to war?" Now, I was a pacifist -- I still am. But I couldn't imagine any other response to an attack on American soil.

She asked, "Attacked?  By who?" Although my mother had lived through more wars than I had, she had only been a young child the last time America was attacked.

"They're not saying. But I think it was Osama Bin Laden." How did I know that? I didn't. I had just read an article about Muslim extremists and Bin Laden. It had stuck in my head.

We talked for awhile...I talked to a lot of people that day. Friends, family, even a Pakistani coworker because I was worried about how people would treat him. He was a person just like me...regardless of his religious beliefs or where he was from.

The eeriest thing I remember was the next day. The day of silence. My brother-in-law and I drove to St. Louis to present our proposal for the Windows XP course. On a typical day, a number of planes fly overhead. You never notice them. That day I noticed the lack of them.

We didn't get that project and money was tight that fall. But sometimes projects fall through for a reason. Another project had fallen through during the summer -- a project that would have put me at JP Morgan on 9/11/2001.


  1. Was on the phone with an associate who worked in NYC while I was watching the Second Tower hit... we talked through the next few hours as the planes continued to crash, and as the Towers came down. Many of his neighbors did not come home that night...nor any night afterwards. Remember the overwhelming sadness at the thought of the children who would never know a world pre-9.11.... Now eleven years later I worry that children will grow up and never know what happened that Tuesday in September 2001. We must never forget.

    1. How awful for your friend. I've been chatting tonight with a friend of mine whose 5-yr-old son learned about 9/11 today. What a hard thing to explain to a child!

  2. Oh my goodness Rachelle. You are very lucky. Having just moved away from the NYC area, I was stunned and confused by what had happened. We were dismissed from work. I had never seen more confused looks on faces as that day. And about 3 days later, I found out about someone I knew someone who was in the plane headed to San Francisco that went down in PA. I later heard of more folks who perished that were friends and family of many of my friends from the area.

    We will never forget and pray that something like this never happens again. John Lennon's plea from 1969 in his song "Give Peace a Chance" is still a strong statement that I hope comes true in our lifetimes.

    1. I was lucky! And also lucky that I did not lose friends or even coworkers that day. The person I had been working with at JP Morgan had been relocated to Japan the month before.

      It must have been awful for you, since you knew people who perished.

      And yes...I really hope the world will Give Peace a Chance. Johnn Lennon sang of hope...and love. If only the world will listen.