Where were you?

I was a few weeks into a new job, getting used to the idea of being a librarian.  My assistant was gone for the day so it was a pretty quiet day in the library.  All of the sudden one of the custodians came running in and telling me that we were being attacked.  I was a very naive 23 year old.  I had no idea it was even possible for our great country to be attacked.  I didn’t really know what the World Trade Center was, so I did what any self-respecting librarian would do, I pulled out an encyclopedia and looked it up.  My student helper and I read about why the World Trade Center was important and then we turned on the TV.  We were glued to the television until the principal sent a message for us not to let the students watch TV so I tried to erase my helper’s memory…

One of my colleagues came in to watch the TV in my tiny magazine room on her conference period.  I was out in the library helping someone when I heard her yell, “Get in here, it’s falling down!”  I ran in and we watched together as the two buildings collapsed before our eyes!

My little magazine closet was a hub of activity that day.  Teachers came by on their conference period to watch the latest news.  I was glued to the TV so I could inform whoever asked me on what was happening.  The world as I knew it would never be the same.

I called my mom and she told me that I needed to go get gas as soon as I got off work, so I went and sat in a long line at the gas station.  Then I locked myself in my little house and continued to watch the news coverage.  I was supposed to travel to my cousin’s house for some sort of home party that night but I couldn’t make myself go.  I remember when I called her she said, “The last place the terrorists are going to hit is Hume, Missouri.”  That might have been true but I was beyond terrified so I sat on the couch and continued to watch.  I think I even slept on the couch with the news on.  It was like an addiction.

That next Friday night, my brother’s football team traveled to Knob Noster, Missouri, which is right outside Whiteman Air Force Base.  We watched the game and the stealth bombers flew all around us.  It was an creepy feeling.

My student helper is now an adult with, hopefully, a real job now.  I wonder what part I play in his memories of that day?  The teacher that I sat and watched the buildings with now has her students write a research project about 9-11 each year.  We relive our memories every year and tell them what the day was like.  My newspapers are yellowing and our students have no idea what the world was like before that day.  Terrorists never hit Hume, Missouri.

That day changed our world and it changed every one of us.  I had no idea how much it changed my world until years later.  I learned that on that day, my brother sat in his high school and decided that he wanted to help this country.  Because of that day, we became a military family.  We spent four years learning about West Point and what a great military academy it is as my brother attended school there.  I’ve had the opportunity to get to meet some of the best soldiers in our country and I’ve known the heartache as some of those boys haven’t made it home.  We have a year of memories that don’t include my brother’s presence because he was in Iraq.  Our story still continues…that day changed our life in ways I would never have believed.

Where were you?  How has it changed you?


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