Yahoo! is asking Americans how September 11 changed them. Below is an account from a reader.
I remember the morning of September 11, 2001 as being a cloudless, beautiful morning here in mid-Maryland. As I was commuting in to work, I took a photograph of a "Pickachu" Pokemon VW beetle that passed me on the highway for my oldest son. Once my younger boy was delivered to my father's care for the day, I did the perfunctory tasks to arrive to work on time. The day was barely underway, with all of the "watercooler" gossip settling into the steady hum of providing services for the patrons of our government library.
[Your story: How has September 11 changed you?]
The secretary, who on occasion had a tendency to elaborate stories, came out into the hallway and said, "A plane has hit the World Trade Center in New York". I am skeptical and thinking this is probably the small plane grazing the side of the building aka the old King Kong movies. But for curiosities sake, I pull up CNN on the computer to investigate. The cleaning lady, and her name was Betty Grable for real, stood behind me as we waited for the browser to load. It took forever to get access. However, the images that we encountered when we finally got on were disastrous. I sat there in sheer disbelief watching live the events unfold from the impact of the second plane on Tower 2 to the collapse of both buildings. We were becoming increasingly concerned with our own safety in light of the fact that we were on a centrally located military base and at 11:19 am, we got an email releasing all of us. It actually took an hour and 15 minutes to get off the base itself.
We traveled to my father's house and being the dedicated retired firefighter, he had hung his boots and helmet with a black swag to the American flag on his front porch. We were only beginning to get a sense of the immensity of this tragedy. My older son felt we had to pray for this, so we went to a charismatic church [not our own] and held hands with strangers that night to ask God for his mercy and healing hand on this great nation of ours.
Since September 11, 2001, I think that I have grown to be more patient. Definitely more patriotic. I never felt a sense of retribution, but I was relieved when the news came that Osama bin Laden had been killed. I grasped that life is about the moments. To live and live abundantly, but also sensibly. The anniversary brought about strong feelings that surprised me. Old griefs, both personal and communal were freshly present. I still think about those firefighters and the commitment they make to climb those stairs and help others to safety before themselves. And the soldiers who've followed. They make America great and I am so proud to be a part of such a great nation. God bless the USA.
- September 11