It seemed like yesterday. I waddled my seven month pregnant self down the hallway to the bathroom while my family slept over at my parents house and I heard my Dad gasp at 5:55am PST. I quickly asked what was wrong as I peaked into the living room and my Dad looked stunned. “There was an accident in New York City,” he said. Nature called and my unborn daughter pressed upon my bladder and I rushed to the bathroom. I had heard what my Dad said, but I was not prepared for what I saw when I came out of the bathroom.
My Mother was awake by then, preparing morning coffee for my husband and my Grandmother who was visiting us from Chicago. I sat down on the couch of my childhood home and gazed at the television in terror. The first tower had been hit at 8:48am EST (5:48am PST) by a plane and the building was engulfed in flames. I stared at my Dad and he shook his head and I knew exactly what he was thinking. He was a Civil Engineer and the look on his face told me that the building would not stand very long and the survival rate for anyone above the point of impact was pretty grim.
I held my stomach tightly and cried. Dad called his office and asked if they needed any help, he was quickly informed that all non-essential government offices were closed until further notice. The television was now showing live video of the carnage of the North Tower and in a blink of an eye — we witnessed a plane strike the South Tower at 9:03am EST (6:03am PST). I shrieked in horror and I knew my normal American life would never be the same! “This is a terrorist attack,” I said and my Dad quickly agreed. Again, he called his office and said that he was ready to be deployed to New York if necessary as he watched in disbelief.
The next few minutes were filled with an absolute obsession for news. Images streamed live on the television. Theories were discussed around the cocktail table and the entire time my soul cried out, “THIS IS WAR!” By now my husband was awake. There was talk of our family moving to Canada because of his dual citizenship. My Dad talked about the building materials and composition and the amount of time it would take for a building of that size to fall based on the impact of the planes, the flames that now engulfed the building and the design and fire safety regulations and then it happened just as my Dad predicted, the South Tower fell at 9:59am EST (6:59am PST).
THIS IS WAR!, I thought. I ran to the guest room and kissed my children and I stood against the wall and slid to the floor as I held my belly, cried some more and told my daughter, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you will be born into this craziness!” All of my hopes for my children changed in that moment. Every dream I’d ever had for them disappeared and all I could pray for and think about was their safety. I cried for the loss of my children’s innocence. I cried for the loss of my own security. I cried because something this terrible and life altering had happened on American soil and in MY LIFETIME! “THIS IS WAR!” I thought again and again and again!
The days that followed 9/11 have been filled with: mourning, triumphs, resilience, loss, memories of love, anger, celebrations of heroes and life, patriotism and of course war for America. The towers have fallen and World Trade Center’s lights have dimmed and been replaced by a beautiful 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero where ashes once remained. Today 9/11 is a day of National Service and a day that I will never forget! Even though I did not know anyone that died in the Twin Towers, I mourn for each and every one of them. I grieve with their families. I cry for the children that have never meet their Dad’s because of this tragic day when our world stopped. I thank each and every first responders that ran into the Twin Towers to save someone when everyone else was running out. I thank every American that took up arms to defend our country and our freedom. But most of all I thank each and every American that banded together to help their neighbors, to help the affected families and to help our country heal!