I wasn't going to write about 9/11 again, but here's what's going through my mind today. My husband and I worked for the Department of Defense, so we were both in our respective offices that morning. In my office, on the fifth floor of the main building, we watched in amazement as a plane plowed through the first tower of the World Trade Center and in horror as another plane hit the second.
Within minutes, we were all told to go home. Then came the challenge of making one's way down four flights of stairs crowded with hundreds of frantic people. I found my way to our car in the parking lot. My husband was already there. As a high-ranking 35-year employee, he was entitled to a special parking place just a few rows from the front door of the building. The downside of this plum spot was now apparent. We were far from the single parking-lot exit. Yes, there was just one exit to this huge lot, because terrorism was on everyone's radar even before 9/11. The bad guys had to be kept out.
Those who had to park farther from the building every day were now able to leave first, but even they were hampered by the bottleneck at the gate. Everyone inched along for what seemed like hours. We mostly just sat and sat, glancing at the sky and listening, wondering if we were going to be targets. My husband thinks it took us about two hours to reach the gate. I cried all the way home.
Work was never the same after that. The going-away party scheduled later that week for a beloved team leader was cancelled. The Iraq War came along in 2003 with a lot of flag-waving and fanfare. "Shock and Awe." It made me sick. When my 97-year-old mother began to wander down our driveway and complain to passersby about the treatment she was receiving from the "strangers" in "that house,"I knew it was time to retire. It was 2006.
The world was never the same after that either. Our first grandson arrived nearly a year after the attack, in 2002. His due date was supposed to have been on the first anniversary of 9/11, but he appeared nearly two weeks early. He arrived during the days when a sniper and his young sidekick were terrorizing the Washington suburbs. His parents couldn't even take him to the park in his stroller until after the pair were caught, in late October.
The country is still under the spell of 9/11. We are so angry with each other and so fearful of "the other" that we are barely able to cope with any of our problems, let alone Covid. What will become of us?