I feel fortunate. Fortunate that my husband hadn't left for work that day. Fortunate that he didn't even work downtown. Fortunate that my father wasn't at the pentagon that day. Fortunate that no one I knew was hurt.
On 9/11/2001 I was pregnant. I lived in north Jersey and my husband worked in NYC. He was getting ready to take the bus into the city. We had the TV on and were watching the news when we saw a plane crash into the tower. We didn't think much of it. Surely it was an accident. My husband left for work and started to walk to the bus stop. A neighbor told him that all the tunnels were closed and he came back.
We continued watching the news and saw the other plane hit the tower and knew it was no accident. When the tower collapsed, we lost our TV signal. That was our local antenna on top. It took a few hours for us to find out what was going on.
My parents live in Virginia, a few miles from the pentagon. My father often has government contracts and has visited the pentagon in the past.
My parents were afraid of my husband being in the city in that morning and we worried about my parents too. I do feel fortunate that my family is safe.
That night my house filled with smoke. The smoke stayed for a week.
There were military personnel with guns at tunnels and bridges. It felt like a war zone.
My town was a NYC commuter town. Lots of people never came back that day. So many funerals. There were cars that never left the commuter parking lots. They marked the tires with chalk. One line for each day they didn't return. No one wanted to tow them. No one wanted to give up hope.
It didn't take long for Missing Posters to go up. So many people went missing on 9/11. Lots of people were searing for someone who never came home that day. No one wanted to give up hope.
It also didn't take long for the cars that had chalk lines on the tires to also have flowers placed on the windshields. And flowers were placed on the fences along the sidewalks by route 3, the main road into NYC.
Everyone knew someone who was gone. Everyone knew someone who didn't come back that day.
New Yorkers (and East Coast people) get a bad reputation around Seattle for being rude and uncaring, but they do look out for each other. There is an inexplicable bond. Almost a kinship. Lots of New Yorkers came to help during that time.
Those armed military personnel became comforting. They stayed there for a very long time. By Christmas we were waving to them as we passed by. We were glad they were there. They had become a part of our town.
I no longer live near NYC. I'm near Seattle now. Things are different here. No one talks about which neighbor didn't come back on 9/11. No one talks about the client who worked in the tower and never made it to the meeting. Or their favorite restaurant that used to be a block away from the towers. Or how they moved to the suburbs because they were forced to move out their apartment after 9/11 when the section of the city they lived in was closed for months. There are no newspaper clippings hanging up at the local pizza place with pictures of the towers burnings because of the quote underneath from the fireman was the owner's nephew.
Things are not the same here.