It’s been 10 years since my mom rushed into Northwood elementary to pick me up hours before the school day officially ended. When I asked her what I owed this early dismissal, her only response was “look in the sky.” As we drove home I intently looked up to observe a silent blue sky. While it was a beautiful blue, I didn’t immediately discern anything different. After staring for what seemed like I forever I turned to my mom and said “Nothing.” “There are no planes in the sky,” she quickly said.
At the time my family lived in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio. Our residence was minutes from the international airport as well as the airforce base. In the four years we lived there I could always look out the backyard and see an airplane. Planes often flew so close I swore I could wave to the pilot.
I instantly became incensed with fear as my mom slowly explained what was going on. She spoke of terms like “World Trade Centers,” “terrorists,” and of course the name Osama bin Laden -these words I never heard before. This might seem silly to a kid from New York, but before September 11, 2001 was there a reason for a 12-year-old girl from Dayton Ohio to know what WTC meant?
Fear of the unknown surrounded my feelings for the rest of that fateful day- and in many ways it still does today. The security that a child feels wrapped in their parent’s arms was the way I felt about living in this nation until that morning. In one sweeping moment this security was robbed from me and from our nation forever.
Later that afternoon my mom sent me outside to ride bikes with the neighbors. I now believe that this was mom’s way to insert a sense of normalcy into this day. But it was quickly interrupted with a blast that shook the ground and threw my friends and I off our bikes. Scrambling to stand up and get back to the house I looked up to see my mom running out the house, her face pale with fear, she screamed for me to come inside.
In the moments following local news networks all reported on what they believed to be the source of the boom. Unfortunately most of the reports were wrong as they concluded that the sound came from a bombing of the local veterans hospital. I watched silently as my sister and mother cried out at this report. For minutes -which seemed like hours- the terrorists attacks of 9/11 were in the only city that I called home.
Soon, but not soon enough, national and local reports confirmed that the hospital had not been harmed. The sound, we found out, was a sonic boom from the President’s plane flying over.
This story of what life was like for me on this day is in no way meant to undermine or reduce the feelings of the families who lost their loved ones that day. This post is simply meant to share my story and one of the many reasons for my unwavering patriotism.