It was my first week of work in a school program for hearing and vision impaired children. I was early to work on September 11th (obviously pre-kids). A friend came in around 9:00 and told us a plane hit one of World Trade Center Towers. My colleagues and I were concerned, but thought it must have been an accident, probably a two seater plane, and continued with work.
Fifteen minutes later, another colleague shared that a second plane hit the other Tower. I was thoroughly confused. Reports starting surfacing that these were intended attacks. One of my friends put a radio on and we learned about the 3rd plane going down.
The United States was under attack?!
Immediately I called my fiance (at the time). He was running a restaurant in the city. He was uptown and immediately booked a hotel room (he knew he wasn't getting out of the city that night). I immediately took a count of all my family and friends in the city that day. My brother was in the city as well numerous friends and cousins, who worked at the trade center.
I spent the following hours trying to get in touch with family and friends. This was before EVERYONE was so cell-phone accessible and at some point during the day cell service was lost completely. I watched parents pick their children up from school. They weren't sure how to explain the tragedy to their children. Many other parents were stuck in the city and could not be contacted. Some never returned home.
I stopped in a church on my way to my second school site. I cried and prayed. Others were there as well and they did the same.
The second school has a portable tv. One of the students signed a message to me, "Tall building, plane fly, crashed". His image stays in my mind to this day. There were 2 teachers in my program that had family members who were firefighters. They were in touch with them at the beginning of the rescue efforts and were assured they were safe. I could not get in touch with my brother and was terrified.
My mother and sister were home that morning and witnessed both towers fall. They spent the rest of the day in front of the tv. My mother spoke with every friend and family member who was in the city that day and they all returned home. She was not able to speak with my brother.
We had no contact with my brother until he arrived at home at 5:00 PM, 5 hours later than usual. We were so happy and relieved.
My two collegues lost their family members that morning. They were 3 of the many brave first responders that lost their lives that day.
My fiance stayed in the city that night. The restaurant he worked for had a site at 5 World Trade Center. They were evacuated and traveled uptown to my his store. There was no place to stay in NYC. People walked over bridges and tunnels to leave Manhattan.
I spent that evening into the early morning watching the rescue efforts of our brave men and women, hoping for survivors. I prayed there would be more.
I will never forget where I was the morning of September 11th. Where were you?