I started writing this a few days ago but decided to change my mind. Then I changed it again. This is the last time.
I started by writing a memory of my 9/11 day. I’ll leave that below. After thinking for a while, I realized what I really want my kids to know (assuming they read this one day) is how my life changed after 9/11. It changed permanently.
I was scared after 9/11. Living near DC, I knew we were a target. Who was going to get us next? I had to carry ID with me all the time – no more sweet talking my way into a federal building on the days I forgot my driver’s license at home (which happened frequently at that time). No more driving around the NIH campus to show my mom all the cool places over there. Now there are very big fences surrounding their locked-down facilities. There are big fences everywhere now.
Travel by air is a pain in the ass. We wear flip flops and sweats now because removing shoes for not just me but my two kids takes a little while. And I can’t wear a belt so sweats make more sense. Lines for security are long. But I don’t complain – let the security do what they must to keep me safe.
Entering federal buildings changed, which I understand. Now we need ID to get into the Old Postal Pavilion and the Reagan Building. That was new. We get checked walking into some Smithsonian buildings. That feels weird, too.
Riding metro and driving has changed. There are signs above the road that say “Report suspicious activity.” That makes me nervous. Some days metro is just like it always was. Some days there are lots of police. I always wonder why. Is it for show or is there a threat?
We lived under different color threat markers for years. Code yellow, orange, red – I don’t remember what they all mean but every time the news would talk about it my blood pressure would go up.
Life went on but it’s different. We as a nation are no longer quite so naïve. I’m a different person.
Ten years ago……
I lost my innocence. It’s never quite come back.
There are a few days in my life that I will never forget: my wedding day, the day I found out I was having twins and the day my babies were born, the day I had bad medical things happen – important days in my life. I remember those days clearly though the specific dates are a little fuzzy. September 11, 2001 is one day I’ll never forget. And I remember the date clearly. I’m pretty sure most other Americans do, too.
My girls were little – a little less than 4 months old. I had them sitting in the car seats on the floor in front me while I ate my breakfast and watched the Today show. I would rock their seats with my feet – like I was bike riding. Everything was normal until they said a plane had crashed into one of the towers. I knew something wasn’t right. I called my husband, who was working close to BWI airport. His office didn’t know what was happening so they found a news station online and were watching when the second plane hit. Fear set it. Planes were being grounded. At some point there was concern about a missing plane near DC. Mike told me to get the girls and go to the basement until he got home. I was scared. I listened.
But I kept coming upstairs to look at the news. It didn’t comfort me. Nothing did.
When I learned of the crash at the Pentagon, all I could think about was the interpreters. There are interpreters there nearly every day. Who was there that day? Were they okay?
I don’t remember how we found out there were no injured interpreters. I know someone at SLA let me know but I don’t remember the specifics. I just remember being relieved and surprised.
The hours that followed involved phone calls to family to let them know we were okay. Emails from friends increased. My family thought I should move. But where would I go? No place seemed safe.
I hope I never live through anything like it again. I know I probably will experience some sort of bad event. I hope my children don’t have to.