September 19, 2021

I remember it like it was yesterday

(Just my little, insignificant, story about 9/11/01)

A normal day
Tuesday (9/11/01) started out as a normal, average day. Just the normal routine of driving to the office, stopping by Wendy’s for some breakfast, and grabbing some coffee on the way to my desk. It didn’t appear it was going to be an eventful day by any means.  As I always did, I made my rounds throughout the office, to check with everyone to see if we had any issues, or if I could get to work on some of my projects.

I was working primarily as a web developer, with some infrastructure management mixed in.

All of that is minuscule now, given what transpired that day.

It began
Around 7:45am Central Time, the first plane hit the WTC.  Did anyone in our office know anything about it? Nope.

Remember, this was 2001, not 2011. We didn’t have Twitter, Facebook, or advanced smart-phones that would notify us of things as quickly as today.  To be honest, not being a big “texter”, I don’t even recall having text messaging on my phone back then.  We did have the Internet though.  Even with the Internet, the world seemed so much smaller then.

I don’t know if someone got an e-mail, happened to look at CNN’s web site, or possibly a call from a co-worker’s spouse that was working in NYC that day, but we heard the news before the second plane hit the other tower.

At the time I had never been to New York City.  It was a mythical place to me that existed in movies, TV, and stories from people I knew that had been there.  I really didn’t know much about the geography of NYC, so the though of a plane hitting the WTC… might be conceivably accidental.

It was almost impossible to get on CNN.com, MSNBC.com, or any other news site that day.  Everyone’s site was at capacity given what was going on.  Only for a few seconds at a time could we get any information from a web based news portal.  We grabbed a TV out of the break room, and moved it into one of the bigger conference rooms.  Many of us gathered around trying to get more information.

We then learned of the second tower being hit. This was no accident. The military part of me knew it, but the civilian side of me wanted to dismiss it. We were now at war.

My first call
The first phone call I made was to my unit.  Phone lines were jam-packed, but I finally got through.

I said “I know you don’t have time to talk, but tell me where and when you need me. I’ll be there.”

The response was simply “Be ready.”

As the Pentagon got hit and Flight 93 crashed, I spent the rest of the day on an adrenaline rush that couldn’t be compared to consuming 5 cases of 5-Hour Energy+RedBull.

What was next? Is this it? What is their next move?

Later in the day, I received a barrage of calls from friends/family asking if/when I would have to go somewhere because I was a National Guardsman.  My only answer to them was “I don’t know yet, and when I do, I will let you know when, but probably can’t tell you where.”

Needless to say, leaving work, there was heightened security everywhere.  It took quite a while to get home.  Once I made it home, I didn’t really have many things on my mind to do, other than to pack my gear and wait for my call. I couldn’t sleep for more than a few minutes at a time…

Waiting game
Wednesday was a very surreal day.  The morning colors seemed out of whack on the way to the office.  I’m not sure if it was due to Summer becoming Fall, what happened the day before, or it was just my lack of sleep.

Before attempting to go to bed, I had packed a couple days worth of civies (military jargon for civilian clothes) as well as all the rest of my gear. I put it in the trunk of my car before leaving for work. Still not knowing what to expect, I wanted to be prepared.

Waiting for the call from my unit I felt like a kid waiting on Christmas morning, but without the positive excitement/outcome.

Got the call
I finally did get a call.  The details I cannot go into.  All I will say, is that sooner than later, I was on a flight-line, with an M16 in my hands, several magazines on my belt, augmenting a security detail.  The hardest part of standing on that line, was not knowing.  Not knowing what to expect. What was next?

I have never seen so many people work together without question, quickly, efficiently, and in a more giving manner than can be described.  We had a job to do, and petty things weren’t going to get in the way of that.  Everyone was up to the task of completing the mission.  Without question.

I’m not going to go into how long I was on orders, where I was on orders, or any of that, for obvious reasons.

Reflecting on the events of 9/11/01
It is very hard to put into words the feelings I have about what happened that day.  I don’t know if I will ever be able to express the pain, anger, and sorrow I feel.

I only wish that all people could get along (regardless of nationality, religion, race, gender, etc).

What really gets me about the “remembering” process, is that for several years, it was not uncommon to see pictures/videos of the horrible acts on television/web sites.  Then all of a sudden, those images were “too horrible” to be seen, they “bring up bad memories”, and the like.  I really think this type of thinking is a joke, especially while there is still the threat of terrorism.  Memories like these don’t need to be devalued by time or by media outlets.

What happened, HAPPENED. No need to shelter anyone from the truth because we don’t want them to be a certain way or not be a certain way.  I’ll say it again… What happened, HAPPENED.

It is easy to forget things as time passes… For me, I will never forget that day, or the days that followed.

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