Seven years ago at about this time right now, I had just gotten home from walking Les two blocks away to her Elementary School. I turned on the TV to see what crazy things Regis and Kelly were up to this morning. A dark and scary feeling came over me as I began to watch the news on every channel focused on New York City, and trying to wrap my brain around the events taking place. I was glued; I didn’t leave the room. My mind started to race as the “talking heads” were speculating what might happen next, and reporting what the experts figured out what was happening next.
I realized that perhaps government buildings would be targeted – the Pentagon had been hit. Richard had worked there for a few months not too long before this. There was one plane still missing – where was it? Was it headed towards other government buildings? Richard was at work IN a tall, mirrored-window building. I had to talk to him to be sure he was ok. I called his work number – the call didn’t go through. I called and called and called as I worked myself up more into panic mode. I finally got an answer – I told him what was on TV. He hadn’t heard about it yet – they turned on their TVs.
So, what do I do about my kids? Because no one really knew the extent of what was going to happen, some irrational thoughts climbed into my head. Living as far from DC as we do, I was pretty sure they were safe. But I was worried about what they were seeing or learning at school – would they be worried about their dad? Did I need to comfort them? Hopefully the schools were smart enough to not let the word out yet to the students.
Brian’s wasn’t – he was in a 7th grade Shop class with the TV on for some reason. His shop teacher was in the Army Reserves and felt the need to see what was happening (he later went to Iraq at the very beginning of the war). Brian watched the whole thing. I finally convinced myself that I knew he was a stable enough kid that he would be ok to stay the rest of the day at school. And, he was. If I remember correctly, the schools did dismiss the kids early that day, though.
What about our emotional Les? If other kids were panicking, she would be also. Would her school keep the word quiet? Well, good ol’ Carroll County moms, who probably were related to many federal workers just like us, began walking and driving to pick their kids up early from school. I resisted as long as I could, but I succumbed and went and pulled her out. She was clueless – just trying to figure out why all the kids were leaving. So, I admit, I added to the panic that day. It was hard not to – I had never felt so afraid.
Now, what to do about Richard? Is he still safe? I needed him to be HOME. I needed to feel safe. I needed to have my family around me. After calling and calling and calling again, I got him back on the phone and asked him to please come home. He got permission and after driving through many traffic jams of fathers and mothers hurrying home to loved ones, he finally arrived. I felt some relief.
Phone calls came in from all over the country from family and friends to check on us – was Richard still working at the Pentagon? Thankfully he was not. We were glued to the news for the rest of the day, and for many days following. Richard continued to remind me that if I panicked, if I stayed afraid or changed my way of life, then the terrorists won. Life has not been the same since.
So today, on the anniversary of one of the worst days in American History, I decided to flip through the news channels to see their coverage today. Thankfully, Fox News and CNN were covering the commemoration events around the East Coast. Not surprisingly, but sadly, The Today Show had Matt Lauer cooking with some clueless chef outside of Rockefeller Plaza. They should be ashamed. And again, sadly, they probably are not.
I, for one, am grateful for all who fight for our country and work to keep us safe. America, the beautiful, continues on.