I remember flipping on the TV just a moment before heading out the door to work. I was planning to arrive early to help set the cafeteria up for the new students arriving on campus that day. Initially, I mistook the image I saw as another Hollywood movie, but the audio didn’t quite sync up. It took me a moment to realize that what I was seeing was live. It was real. I was really happening.
I remember the news anchors trying to report on what was going on. At that point only one building had been struck. I remember watching as the live news feed showed a second airliner crashing into the other Trade Tower. I remember seeing the explosion, the fire, the debris, and I remember being shaken to my core. I had hoped that the airliners were at least empty, but the reports came in that they were fully loaded with passengers. I was stunned.
Somewhere in there, reports rolled in that the Pentagon had been hit, that it was thought that the White House had been the original target. Another report told of a plane that had crashed in Pennsylvania, all lives on board lost. It would be days before we knew the whole story of what had happened, or at least as much of the story as can be known.
I remember watching the World Trade Towers burning, smoke rising in black columns, and hearing how brave men were entering the buildings to get the survivors out. I remember waiting to find out another plane had crashed into another building somewhere else.
And then the Towers began to fall – first one, then the other shortly after it. That was when I sank to the floor and tears started to fall down my face. Before, I had simply been standing stockstill, almost holding my breath, the horror of the day not quite reaching beyond my rational mind. The collapsing buildings somehow made it real, thinking about how many died that day. I remember the silence from the reporters. It was probably the first time I had ever heard any of them truly at a loss for words.
I remember finally dragging myself to work and going through the motions of doing my job. My heart and mind were still with those people, and my eyes strayed to the television most of the day to check for updates. So many dead, so much horror. And all for naught.
I remember those who died that day. I remember those who gave their lives to help others survive. I remember what it was that sparked a global conflict. I remember what it was that urged a nation to unity and a pursuit for justice.