My job was only a couple of miles away from our apartment so I chose to work early in order to get off early. When I arrived, the day was still quiet. The only thing I knew in the news world was the story about Michael Jordan. I worked for a relocation company at Cendant Mobility. One of my jobs was to help USAA members relocate. It was strictly military or retired military. My work days were spent on the phone with Sergeants, Lieutenants, Colonels and maybe their wives, placing them with a Real Estate Broker who would assign them to a listing and/or buyers agent. These members were all over the world. I had a sheet of paper posted in my cubicle reminding me of time zones so I didn't make the mistake of calling someone in Germany or Japan at the wrong time of day. When my phone rang, I never knew who would be on the other end of the phone or where they would be calling from. But on September 11th, I remember someone very specific that I spoke with. It was a wife of a man in the military that has just been transferred to the Pentagon. Her husband was staying in an apartment near the Pentagon while she stayed in Florida with their children to sell the house. After the house sold, the entire family would move. Her call was to let me know that she needed to get in touch with a realtor in Virginia to begin the search for a new home. I had spoken with her before so the call was brief. After hanging up, I made a note to follow up in 24hrs to make sure a buyers agent had made contact. I don't remember the exact time, but I do remember this. She was the last member I spoke with on the phone for the rest of the day. My phone quit ringing. I continued making phone calls but was only able to leave messages. The office began to get crazy. My co-workers and my boss had arrived. September 11th had officially begun.
My boss was an extreme sports fan. I think I heard him discuss sports more than anything else. Sometimes I wondered whether or not he really worked. My little cubicle was next to his much bigger cubicle. At the top of each cubicle was plexiglass so I could see him and all of my co-workers. I got along great with my boss and we joked with each other pretty much all throughout the day. While there was respect, there was also a great deal of comfort. I could hear all of his conversations and many times I would interrupt or butt in with a smart remark. This was acceptable in our boss/employer relationship. My boss had a friend that worked for another department that came over to his cubicle every single day to talk about the last football game they had watched or what was going on in their fantasy football world. I could see Jose walking towards my boss, Gabe. And this is when the memories begin that will forever be in my mind for as long as I live. As I see Jose walking towards Gabe, I stand up and hang over the cubicle to talk to both of them. Jose says, "Did y'all hear the news?" And I respond with, "Who cares! Michael Jordan is coming out of retirement!" Quickly I realize that Jose is not referring to Michael Jordan. "No stupid! A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center!
At that moment I was not thinking New York City. My mind was in total shock! I was wondering how on earth a plane could crash into the World Trade Center in Dallas. Instantly I see coworkers running to the break room at work. I followed. Before I could even get to the door of the breakroom where the TV was, I heard everyone erupt. It was at that moment that the second plane hit. My Boss' boss stayed in the breakroom. He was also a retired Colonel in the Army. The Colonel (this is what we called him) made almost everyone go back to their desks until he realized he couldn't keep people away. This was serious stuff and no one understood what was going on. Since our job was to help those in the military we were informed to not make outgoing phone calls but to continue taking incoming calls. The Colonel wanted us to be sensitive to what was going on and making phone calls to those in the military was not a good thing on a day like 911. But the phones quit ringing, there were no calls to take. From the time the second plane hit until flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, a lot was being said about planes unaccounted for. There was a rumor that one was headed for Dallas. There were even rumors that our entire country was under attack and that bombs and explosives could be planted anywhere and everywhere. As the world waited and many of us froze in fear just trying to understand what was going on, I called my husband. We had only been married for five weeks and I just wanted to talk to him. I wanted to know he was safe and I wanted to feel safe. My mom called me from Houston where she lived at the time. She was crying. In Houston the media was busy scaring residents by reminding them of how close there were to NASA. Some news reporters were reporting that a plane was headed for Houston and that they could be a target. Finally, every plan was accounted for and nothing was in the sky.
My apartment and my job was just a couple of miles away from DFW airport. Any moment I took to stop and look or listen for a plane, I would see or hear one. But all airline travel had come to a halt. There was nothing on TV except for live coverage of the attacks. I couldn't sleep, I could barely eat. The only thing I did was watch the news with the rest of the world. That night our church called an emergency prayer meeting. I remember walking into the church. The lights were dim, no one was talking, no one was smiling, everyone was in total shock. We didn't feel safe, we no longer trusted. Instead we feared. Was it over? Was more to come? How could this happen to the United States of America? How?
This picture terrifies me because this is when people began jumping out of the building.Today on September 11th, my life is much different. I have two kids and I am pregnant with my third. The world is not as safe as it used to be. My kids will learn what a Threat Advisory means and what all the different colors signify. Currently, at this very moment, we are at level yellow. This means there is a significant risk of terrorists attacks. In fact, I don't think we have ever been below a level yellow since 911. And someday my kids will wonder what I was doing when 911 occurred. "Where were you Mom? Were you scared? Could this happen again?" My kids will grow up in a world that is not near as safe as it used to be. They will live in a world that gets worse every single day. How can I protect them? How can I keep their world safe and pure? How can I teach them to not live in fear, when most of us continue to wonder when, not if, this will happen again?
I don't think I was ever able to get in touch with the precious woman I had talked to on the phone that morning at work. Was her husband injured or killed at the Pentagon? Did she spend that entire morning in fear as she tried to get in touch with her husband? Did they ever relocate? I am sure that no matter what, their lives changed.
What about us? How has our life changed? How can we make sure we never forget what happened? May we always remember what it was like before. Getting on an airplane was simple, a mindless thing. We never thought about what shoes would could wear on the plane to make the check in through security fast and easy. We didn't think twice about bringing a pair of tweezers or even a pocket knife on the plane. We probably did not even look at passengers and wonder of they could possibly be terrorists. Our day to day routine was thoughtless. But not now, not ever again! So today as I think about where I was, who I was and what I was doing on September 11th, I think about how our world is probably not much safer. I hope and pray that it is. I support our President, I trust him. I would not want anyone else in office during times like this. But as a believer, as a child of God, I know that this world is not destined to get better. Things will only get worse! So I pray that before this happens again, Jesus comes back.