Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where I was on September 11, 2001

It doesn't seem like it has been 10 years, but in fact, my third child was only 1 yrs old in Sept 2001, and now she's a budding pre-teen.

On Sept 11, 2001, I had three little kids, 5 and under, and was mostly preoccupied with keeping my head above water and staying sane. I had committed to an early morning workout routine and when I'd arrive home, I'd usually find my 1 year old snuggled up with my husband, watching TeleTubbies or Barney.

I had just started my "first" novel that summer, and with the arrival of fall and the advent of a kindergartener and a preschooler, I hoped to get that novel actually finished during my baby's nap time.

It was early morning, probably 6:30 a.m. - 7:00 a.m. from what I remember, and I was driving home. The sun had just come up and it was a beautiful pre-fall morning. I turned on the radio and heard the news that a plane had hit one of the twin towers. I thought it must have been a small plane that lost some functionality. I worried about the pilot and maybe a passenger or two, and wondered if they were able to bail out. Here in Utah we have frequent small plane crashes. In my county, there is a training facility and a school for small plane pilots. When we hear about a crash, many times there aren't any fatalities. So that's where my mind was at when I got home.

My husband had the tv on upstairs and my kids were downstairs with cartoons on. I was soon to find out why. Sitting on the edge of my bed, I watched the footage live of the second plane hitting the second tower. It was then I realized that the plane was not a small plane, but a huge passenger plane. With reports of hijacking, I thought that a couple of hijackers had stolen a plane, but then it dawned on me they they had over-taken a plane that was full and probably had at least 200 people in it.

The horror kept escalating with reports of the Pennsylvania crash and the threat to the Pentagon. And then, of course, the worst event ever, when the towers actually fell. By then I knew that hundreds, if not thousands of lives, were ending before my very eyes. I hadn't even considered the daycares going on and all of the rescue teams involved.

It was like watching an end-of-the-world movie. But this was America and this was home. Even though I was very far away in Utah, it was completely surreal. My husband eventually left for work and I got the older kids to school/pre-school.

I'm not a tv watcher, but I couldn't take my eyes away. I didn't even want to get in the shower. The news just kept getting worse in my mind with each passing moment. I didn't even need to have the media expound.

As reports came in across the country about airports being shut down, it was scary to think that the attacks weren't over. I remember going outside a few times and just staring at the sky. I also talked to my mom several times since my dad was in the Middle East. With reports that airports across the world were being shut down, I was very nervous. My mom didn't hear from my dad all day. He was in Oman with a research group, and they were spending time in both Oman and Yemen, out in the deserts.

Reports were coming in that in some countries, Americans were considered unsafe, which, of course, included Yemen, where some people were rejoicing at the news, and it was also the hometown of Bin Laden and one of his wives.

We didn't hear from my dad for what seemed like forever, but was probably only 24 hours. They heard the news late when they returned to their hotel and switched on the television. Airports were already shutting down in Yemen, and in the middle of more than usual hositilities, they were able to catch one of the last flights to Germany. And finally back to NY after many delays.

My uncle was stranded back east with no way of flying back to California. He eventually hired a rental car.

And then my husband found out that one of his co-workers had been on the Philadelphia plane. The next days were sobering as media footage covered the families who were still looking for loved ones. It was incomprehensible that so many had died, and in such awful ways. It was even more sobering to see how the landscape of NYC changed, now missing the 2 towers.

Even though I grew up in the Cold War era and had lived in Jerusalem as a teenager where we went through regular bomb drills, I had never thought that war on American soil could be a reality.

When I took my kids to Jerusalem last year, we went through many many security measures. As we flew into Tel Aviv we weren't allowed to get out of our seats 30 minutes from the airport.

Sept 11 is simply unforgettable and brings a mixture of emotions each time I remember it, the pride of being an American and knowing that our soldiers are continually battling for peace, and the sorrow for a world in which bringing death to innocent people can be considered a badge of honor.

It wasn't hard for me to decide then that if I had a dream to live, now was the time to live it. I finished that first novel, and although it would be 3 years before I'd get a book published, I had no excuses to give up.


Teresa said...

I have just found your books and have been captively carried away in first, Ammon,and then Abinadi. I love the details and the unexpected characters and twists in the plot....even when I already know the end from the beginning. My only disappointment has been the lack of one of my favrotie parts in the story of Ammon. It is when he is on the road traveling with King Lamoni and they teach the king's father. Why didn't you include when the High King says that he will " give away all his sins to know God"?

Heather B. Moore said...

Thanks for the comment, Teresa. I love that we can read the same stories in the Book of Mormon and different things will stand out to us. I wish I would have included that quote, it's a great one.