The building was on fire and about to fall. That’s when I woke up at exactly 5:06 AM on September 11, 2011. It was one of the worst dreams I had ever had. Of course a real version had already taken effect on the East Coast in New York City a little earlier that morning.
I collected my thoughts, picked out my clothes, packed a diaper bag, and took a shower. I woke my son up, changed him, dressed him, and walked out the door to the end of the block to wait for the 5:45 AM bus which I barely caught in time.
There were only a few other people on the bus and my son, 8 months old at the time, was sleeping in my arms. After a bus transfer I headed into the family childcare home where my son stayed while I worked fulltime. The owner was watching Fox News with great intensity. “What’s going on?” I asked, after seeing one World Trade Center tower billowing smoke from the top of her. “A plane hit the Trade tower.”
At first I really did not believe her. I thought that she was watching an action movie. I dismissed the idea that it was real at all. No one would be stupid enough to attack the nation with the best military in the world! But as I caught the 113 bus to downtown Seattle a woman in front of me gasped as she watched the news on her handheld television. I leaned over and there it was – another tower had been hit by another plane. This had to be an attack!
I went to work and the news reports were crazy. Apparently there were planes all over the country that no one was sure about their destination. I made a few calls to friends on the east coast, and a few hours later we heard they had evacuated the Columbia Tower. We were all sent home. As I exited the building downtown Seattle looked like a ghost town. Between work and the bus stop I ran into only a handful of people, where usually there would be at least 100 or more.
I picked up my son from the daycare in a blur. I was so angry. Thousands of people dead for what?! So jihad could start? So someone could get revenge on what they believed to be a wrong? What did those people ever do to deserve a terrifying death as that one? And what about those people who survived? The friends and families of the deceased? I decided that if I did not have a child at that point in time I would have joined the Air Force and joined in the attack.
As I watched the news that afternoon I saw horrific images. People falling, people jumping, people suffocating. Various ideas for rescue began to come to my mind. There must be a helicopter that could make it up there. Of course, by then the towers had collapsed, but I had just found out. A smoker at the time, I went outside and lit a cigarette. Looking to the sky I suddenly had a very eerie feeling come over me. I realized the feeling came from the lack of air traffic in the skies overhead.
September 11, 2001 is when the United States of America changed forever. Political lines were erased, at least temporarily – because nothing lasts forever. The bad guys were hunted, and years later they were caught or killed. Security took on a new meaning, and the concept of being safe paved the way for what we called “Big Brother”. Airlines took a huge hit, as did the economy.
That was the day I really woke up to the fact that we are not safe. We could have the Hulk, Superman, and the Fantastic Four as our protectors and these terrorists would still find a way in. Before 9/11 I was always on the lookout for the obvious criminal. Since that dreadful day I have now realized that many criminals are silent until needed for “duty”. They are hidden until ready for their act to be seen. Though they had attacked the U.S.A. and other countries around the world before, there was always a sense of ultimate safety from foreign enemies. 9/11 made me realize that every generation has their challenge, their motto, and their war. For those of us who remember this day as a crystal clear image in our head – this is our war. Our fight to keep our parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren safe from the threat of terrorism. Never forget that.