Jim and I talked about the details of the day on September 11, 2001 and he said, “You need to write this down. You remember so many more of the details that I’ve forgotten.”
So I did.
Ten years ago…I was 40 and Jim was 43. Jamie was 21 and three hours away at college. Jon was 12 and in seventh grade.
September 11, 2001 was a perfect autumn day, or at least that must be what I thought as the sun came up. In those days, I woke up way before sunup. Jon’s school bus came at 7am. My mind was focused on the busy day ahead. As soon as Jon left for school and Jim ate his breakfast, I started making my contribution for the Boy Scout Court of Honor/Cookout that night. We were having our first Court of Honor for the school year and it was a accompanied by a cookout in the city park. Every family brings a dish and mine was tuna macaroni salad. A scout in the troop would also be receiving the highest rank in scouting that night. He was to become an Eagle Scout. Jim was Scoutmaster and I did a lot of the behind the scenes work. It was a very busy time in our lives.
Our business was also extremely busy ten years ago and it was unusual for Jim to still be in the house at that time, but we had a funeral to attend that morning. The father of a good friend of ours had passed away. Instead of being out on the job already, Jim was spending the early part of his morning in the office doing paperwork. He was listening to a radio in the office. I remember later thinking how out of the norm it was because he had brought his small radio into the office to catch the morning news. He usually didn’t listen to the radio in his office. But then he was very rarely in his office on a weekday morning.
I had finished making my salad and it was safely in the fridge so I could cross one thing off my long to-do list for that day. I went into Jim’s office to see what he was doing. Quite often when he was doing paperwork it was passed onto me to convert into an invoice or well log for a customer. Within a minute or two of being in the office, the mood of the news on the radio had changed and they began talking about a plane having crashed into the World Trade Center. I think that they first reported that it was a small plane. Jim and I decided to go into the kitchen and turn the tv on. This is one thing that is vivid still in Jim’s memory – just after we turned the television on the second plane hit. I remember saying, “How can this happen? Two planes?” Jim answered, “It’s a terrorist attack.” I couldn’t wrap my mind around that. We watched the tv, in shock, as we continued to get ready for the funeral. We saw the first and then the second tower came down. All during this time, we began hearing conflicting reports of other attacks. Of a plane hitting the Pentagon.
Somehow, we went to that funeral. I don’t remember anything about it. I think every person there was in a daze. We didn’t go to the luncheon afterwards. We drove around a little talking about what we should do. I wanted my family with me. I wanted Jamie to come home from college and I wanted to get Jon out of school. Jim, always the voice of reason, convinced me to leave them be. We talked about cancelling the Court of Honor that night. We drove home and decided that Jim would go talk to the parents of the scout who was to receive his Eagle rank that night. They lived nearby. He would let them make the decision. I remember him coming home a few minutes later saying that the mother had cried and said that they would wait. They did not want to “celebrate” on this day.
I put our American flag up. I remember that as I was placing the flag in the bracket (this was before we had a flagpole), a car pulled in the driveway. It was the realtor who was handling the purchase we were making of the fixer-upper house that adjoined our property. She wanted to let us know that we would finally be closing soon. She didn’t say much about what had happened. I found that odd.
By then, we were beginning to hear more details and learned of the plane that had crashed into the field in Pennsylvania. I only wanted to watch tv. To know…
Jamie and I talked. I’m sure that Jamie and I talked a few times that afternoon and evening. We didn’t know what would happen that day or in the next few days. Already the news was talking about gas prices being raised (they went as high as $5 a gallon that day in our area). I told Jamie to go fill her tank in case she needed to come home. I also wanted her to go buy a tv so that she and her roommates would know what was going on. They had moved into a house near the college that summer and did not have a tv there. I wanted her home, but knew that we must not panic. How could we not though?
The next days are a blur to me, but that day…the memories of that day are as clear as if it were yesterday. That’s as it should be…