I remember the day as if it was yesterday. My mother-in-law called me and told me to turn on the tv. That was around 9:30. I worked at home at the time as a medical transcriptionist with my young daughters, age 4 and 3 playing in my office/playroom.
I went out to the living room and tried to turn on WABC. There was no signal. Little did I know that their transmission tower was gone. I changed channels and found out that the Trade Center towers in New York were gone.
All I could think of was where was my cousin Michael, who worked in the city. He works for a company that maintains elevator service. I prayed that he was not in the towers working that day.
I tried to get in touch with my husband at work in New Jersey but all the lines were busy. You could not even get a call through. A bit later I heard about the plane going into the Pentagon. I tried to call my grandmother because she lives not too far from Camp David and Washington, D.C. Again I could not get through on the phone. All the circuits were busy.
I tried to find my immediate family members to make sure they were all safe. No go. All circuits busy. I remember thinking that somehow I had to keep things calm and quiet for my girls.
An hour after my mother-in-law's call my husband came home from work. The owner of the company he was working for then let all the employees come home to be with their families. I remember getting the kids ready to go out. My husband and I bought bottled water, powdered milk, and stocked up on things that would allow us to feed our family for an extended period of time. We bought extra gasoline. My husband bought ammunition for his gun in case things got bad and he had to hunt to provide for us. We basically went directly into survival mode since we didn't know the full extent of what was going on.
Finally the next day we found out that my cousin Michael was safe at home having gotten out of the city late on 9/11. Only later did we find out he had spent a couple of weeks prior to 9/11 maintaining the elevators.
We also found out that my Uncle Robert had been scheduled to fly out on the ill fated flight that went down in Pennsylvania. He decided for some reason to change his flight and fly out the following day instead. We were very fortunate that he was not on that flight. I have no doubt that had he been on it, our family would have been brought to our knees. We had just lost my father the month before and I can only speak for myself when I say that if we had lost my Uncle Robert that day, I would have just completely lost it.
In the weeks following 9/11 we started doing things differently. We spent more time with our daughters. Each week I bought more canned goods and powdered milk and bottled water to have on hand. My husband all but became obsessed with following the news. Many tears were shed as he watched the footage. When he lived in Guttenberg, NJ he had trained as a volunteer firefighter with the men and women on the NYC fire department in one of the firehouses that were involved on 9/11.
We also found out that many local families were devastated on 9/11. Our community of Dingmans Ferry, PA has a large amount of mothers, fathers, and grandparents who work in the NYC. Our neighbors lost many family members on that day.
I talked to my mother who was still living at that time and I asked her if what we were experiencing was anything like what my parents experienced during the Cuban Missile Crisis. She said it was even worse than that because we had actually been attacked. During the Cuban Missile crisis there of course was no attack. She likened it more to the attack on Pearl Harbor, with the difference being that innocent everyday citizens were murdered. It wasn't an action just against our military. It was an attack on Americans from regular everyday walks of life. These were people who were living the American dream, earning a living for their families.
So today my mind is full of the remembrances of 9/11/2001. My heart aches for those who lost family, friends and acquaintances on that day. My heart aches for those first responders who died in the aftermath from breathing in all the toxic fumes, ash, etc. at the site of the catastrophe.
I will spend my day in quiet reflection and pray that my children will never again in their lives have to deal with something like this.