In remembrance of everyone who died on September 11, 2001, the nation honors the deceased, the first responders, and all those who lost friends and loved ones that infamous day fifteen years ago…
The following is a brief description of my day on September 11, 2001:
I was a single parent living in Bonham, Texas, with my youngest child, daughter Carley, who was seventeen years old and in school that morning. My oldest son Scott and his wife Brianna were living in the Los Angeles area. They had a son on the way and a nearly four-year-old daughter. My son Chris had joined the Air Force a little more than seven months earlier in 2001 and was permanently assigned to Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas.
I had a one-and-a-half-hour one-way daily commute to work from Bonham to Plano. I worked directly for the owners of the company. I was on my way to work the morning of September 11, 2001, and I was listening to my favorite local morning radio program Kidd Kraddick in the Morning on 106.1 KISS FM. Kidd Kraddick interrupted their usual morning banter with a news bulletin of a small plane that just flew into the World Trade Center. Fifteen minutes later, as I was arriving at work, the second plane hit the second tower, and it was now obvious that the planes were not small. I thought to myself, “We are being attacked.” When I heard subsequent reports about the third airplane that hit the Pentagon and the fourth that went down in Virginia, the horror and uncertainty of what was happening began to sink in, and my thoughts immediately turned to family.
Finally seated at my desk at work, the first telephone call I made was to my son Scott’s home in California. With a two hour time difference, I guessed they might still be asleep and not know what was happening. My daughter-in-law Brianna answered the phone, yet unaware of the catastrophic events unfolding. She turned on her television as I bluntly gave her the alarming news. We did not talk long, because she wanted to call my son Scott, who had already left for work.
I had no way to call my son Chris at Dyess AFB in Abilene. I wasn’t concerned for his immediate safety, but I was concerned because I had no idea how this would affect him. Being a good son, however, he soon called me at my work and quietly and calmly said in a very serious tone, “I knew you’d be worried about me.” Understatement. It was a relief to hear his voice. I had not expected to hear from him so soon, and I loved him so much at that moment for calling me. He didn’t really know what was going on either, so I told him what I knew from listening to the news, which wasn’t much. He told me that alerts had been sounding on base to increase the security level – one alert right after the other – and they were already at the highest level. When Chris asked his supervisor what was going on, he was told that nothing like this had ever happened before in his military career.
While I was thinking about what to do next, my daughter Carley called me from school deeply distressed, and I immediately knew it was time to go home. With barely a word to anyone, I left work and drove home to Bonham to collect my frightened daughter from school and check on my aging and now dependent parents who lived a couple of blocks from us. I listened to the radio all the way home with a growing sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t get home fast enough. I really was scared, and although I might have been the only one who left work that morning, I am very grateful that no one ever directly criticized me for it.
My parents were upset but calm. While watching the constant unimaginable images of the event on television with them a day or two later, I felt the inexplicable protective urge to apologize to them for their being confronted with such evil in the world. Mother replied, “Oh, we’ve seen some pretty terrible things in our lifetime.” At nearly 89 years of age, that, they had.