I was at my best friend, Alanna's sister's house. Her name is Leila. She had a little boy under two years old and she was pregnant with her daughter Nora at the time. She was busy. I was willing to help out. I would go over every Tuesday morning for about a month or so and watch her son, Ari while she went to work out. I was giving Ari his morning bath when the door flew open. It was too early for Leila to come home. I was sure something was wrong. What I didn't know was that what she was about to tell me would change my life forever. She said, "It's bad. I was working out and I just saw the World Trade Center on fire. It is really bad. Help me find my television." We scrambled around and found an old TV in the back of her closet. (They didn't have a TV out in the open. They never really watched it.) We plugged the TV in and adjusted the rabbit ears. All of a sudden I saw the pictures. Within seconds we watched as the second plane crashed into the second tower.
I was 21 years old. I was newly married and pregnant with our first daughter. I knew what I was watching was bad, but didn't understand just how many people would die within minutes of the time I began to watch. The first building went down. I watched people fleeing away from the building... Going north as fast as they could. I watched people becoming engulfed in the debris. The smoke clouds billowing over their bodies as they ran... trying to escape. I watched as people jumped to their death from the second building. I watched the raw emotion of fear on bystanders' faces.
Leila and I sat there and cried. We hugged. Our immediate thoughts were with the people. Then we realized that her dad, the man I have always labeled as "my second father," was flying. He was on his way to Mexico...in fact he might have already been there. All we knew was that we couldn't get a hold of him.
The rest is foggy. I am not sure when we finally got word that he was safe. He was unable to come back into the United States for quite some time. It was eerie to see the sky without planes flying. I lived near a major hub for Delta and there were always planes overhead. Not anymore. That was probably the strangest way my little town was hit.
I worked at an apartment complex as a leasing agent. I would sit on the couch and watch TV until someone showed up to inquire about renting an apartment. On September 12, 2001, I watched for 8 hours. I watched the coverage. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. I cried. I felt depressed. I wasn't sure I wanted to bring my sweet baby into a world that was this unstable. I was anxious.
When I first saw a plane in the sky after 9/11, I would cringe. Was it flying too low? Where was it headed? Was it on the right path? Who in their right mind would ever fly again? These feelings began to go away slowly. I have since boarded a plane with only mild anxiety. I have flown over the Pacific Ocean with my two babies and my whole family in tow.
As I watched some documentaries about the horrific events from 9/11 last night, I remembered the feelings that I felt. I remember how angry I was at the people who did these things to us. I remember feeling unsafe. I am eternally grateful for the people who sacrificed their lives for my safety and freedom. I am thankful for all those who serve in the military. I am proud to be an American and I am thankful for the opportunity to teach my three young children about what happened ten years ago. I teach them that you cannot take life for granted. I teach them that we are safe only because of what the military has done for us. I teach them to always say "I love you" before leaving each other.
As I said earlier... my experience is not anything grandiose. I did not know anyone who died in the towers or on the airplanes. I was, however, personally affected. My way of thinking was changed that day. My attitude towards war changed. My gratitude increased towards our military and our national leaders. I will never forget where I was or how I felt that warm September day.