I just realized that Sunday is the 15th anniversary of September 11, 2001. In some ways if feels like a lifetime ago, but in other ways it feels like only yesterday since my memories are still so vivid.
It started out like any other weekday. I arrived at the office around 8 a.m., so I was already hard at work when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. One of my coworkers came over to my desk a few minutes later to tell me what happened and said everyone was gathering in the conference room to watch the news. We watched in horror as they showed that first plane, and then the second, crash into the Twin Towers—which my family had visited less than six months before. And then it got even scarier at 9:37 a.m. as a third plane crashed into the Pentagon, only 30 minutes from my office.
Soon after, my boss told me to leave in case they decided to close the roads. I don’t remember much about the drive, but I know I didn’t take a deep breath until my husband arrived home around dinnertime. Everyone I loved was safe, but my relief was tempered with incredible sadness for the thousands of families that weren’t as lucky.
There are days you remember because of something happy—my wedding day and the birth of my two children definitely fall into that category. I’ll have another day to add to that list when my son gets married next month, and I’m sure there will be many, many more in the years ahead.
Then there are other days you remember for the opposite reason. For me, those include the San Francisco Earthquake of 1989 (I was in the city on a business trip), the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007 (my son was a freshman there at the time), and of course September 11.
While I don’t have the same personal connection to September 11 as the first two events (thank goodness), it was the first time I realized I live in an area that is a target for terrorists. But it definitely wasn’t the last.