So there I was, at home, on the top of what passes for a mountain in Alabama, on the morning of September 11, 2001. I had just awakened, propped myself up, and turned on the television. I was alone as my husband was in Connecticut on business. I tuned to CNN to catch the first morning news and saw smoke coming from one of the World Trade Center buildings. Apparently, a small pleasure aircraft had accidentally flown into the building. I remember I was wondering how the pilot managed to not see something as big as the World Trade Center when suddenly the small pleasure aircraft became a large commercial jet. This made me sit up and take a little closer notice. Black smoke continued to billow and TV news-heads continued to babble.
Suddenly, a second jet flew into the second building of the twin towers and I knew immediately that THIS was no accident. I was spellbound. I was speechless. I was glued to the magic window in my bedroom that connected me, however impersonally, to the world.
When a third jet crashed into the Pentagon, I leaped from my bed in panic. I tried to call my husband, but his job was such that he could not be reached at that moment. I kept trying. I don't remember, now, whether he reached me first or I managed to finally get through to him. I just remember the panic when we spoke. My God! The Pentagon!
He told me that he, and the others in his group, would be returning by rental car since all flights were cancelled. (They drove all night -- taking turns driving -- to get home again.)
After speaking with him, I remained frozen in front of the tube. Finally, the mundane things of life called me away. I was, at that time, selling some items on eBay or Amazon (I forget which) and had to drive down the mountain to the post office to mail a package. Hushed tones in the small, country post office. Package mailed, I drove back up the mountain towards home. About half-way up, and listening to the radio, I heard the announcer tell of a man and woman who held hands and, together, jumped to their deaths from one of the towers. At that point, silent shock made way and I lost it. I burst into a river of tears and wails. I cried like I had lost the dearest thing in the world to me. I will never know how I managed to see the road in front of me or to get home safely.
My husband and I had been on a cruise around Britain and had just returned a mere 7 days before the 9/11 attack. We talked about how lucky that timing had been. I can't remember what else we talked about during those first days. I just remember that I never smiled or laughed. I lived, constantly, on the verge of tears. I remember trying to find the flag given to my mother at my father's funeral (he had served in the Navy) but I never found it.
I wandered, stone-faced, through my house and through my day until several days later a baseball game was on TV. They (the powers that decide these things) had decided not to cancel the game but to play it. Not only did they play the game, but they put on quite a patriotic show to boot. This was the first day, after the attack that I smiled. In fact, I exploded with laughter as a women's choir sang "God Bless America" as loud as they could sing it and with mouths open as wide as they could open them. Somehow, that struck me as beyond funny and I screamed with laughter for the first time. It was a much-needed relief.
I decided then and there that this women's choir would be the perfect weapon against bin Laden and his crew in Afghanistan. We could, I said, send them over there to go from cave to cave, singing as loud as they could, causing the enemy to run screaming from their holes-in-the-ground and blasting their turbans off and into the next county.
Well... we all know how that turned out.