Stunned, my co-workers and I stared in shock at the screen - at the hole that now terrorized the second tower. But work beckoned and it was time for court hearings. On the way, a small boom, which could have been a plane or construction work, assaulted our ears. It was the third impact.
The smoke from the Pentagon wafted across the Potomac to slink about the streets of Alexandria. Court was cancelled. No one could concentrate anyway. I made my way to my car, dazed, staring in sadness at the other pedestrians who looked equally as lost. The air burned around us. We didn't know about the fourth plane yet.
It took three hours to get out of the city. On my way home I could hold in the tears no longer and stopped at my mother's school. Cried on her shoulder. Called my husband, even though the phone lines were not working. Later, when my husband and I got home, my friends came over to our small one bedroom apartment and we sat in front of the television, trying in vain to comprehend the enormity of the event. I called my friend Jenny, who lived in New York at the time. She was shaken, but alright.
I don't drink liquor, but took two shots that night.
Today, I asked my freshman how old they were during 9-11. They were five. I told them my story, but I don't know if it had any impact. They don't have second thoughts when they get on a plane. Taking their shoes off before they go through a security check is second nature. They don't understand how it is to live in a country where you aren't afraid.
Tonight, I cried again, as I did eight years ago. The horror has not lessened for me. Nor would I want it to. I've always been a patriot, but that night helped me understand war in a way I never had. I hope never to be desensitized, so that one day I can help my children fathom how important our country is, and how important it is to stand up for freedom.