September 11, 2001: My Personal Story

This blog has two parts to it.  I wrote both entries into a journal on September 12, 2001. I’m not going to edit or correct it, as it might distract from the feelings I had at that moment.  Well, I actually never finished the second part but I did my best to keep the same feeling and finished it up today.

I wanted to share this with the public as it captured such a terrifying moment in history.  I remember taking a walk up to the local park just to gather my thoughts.  I had to write it down, had to make sense of all the flashes of events that were running through my mind.

I never made mention of this back then, as I only had the intention of stating my own personal experience but of course, I am extremely grateful and proud of all of those who gave their lives so selfishly to help the victims of these atrocious events.  May they forever be remembered as heroes!

September 12, 2001 by Eryn LaPlant, Tierrasanta, California

History has once again been made. But this time, like many others in the past, it is a demise that has left a mark on the hearts and minds of Americans near and far.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, a commercial airline jet crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center – one of the twins was mortally wounded. Mere minutes later another jet aimed for the second tower, creating an immense fiery chasm in the building identical to its brother’s.  Shortly after, hundreds of miles away, another American icon, the country’s symbol of power and protection – The Pentagon, in Washington, D.C., was hit by another airplane.  A piece of one side torn apart by a faceless killer.

Panic was firmly instilled in America.  The president secured, the government preparing for war, the country shut down to wait, watch and listen for whatever happened next.

It wasn’t too long after the first hits that yet another airplane was brought down.  This one crashed into the ground in a Pennsylvania field.  At first, no one knew the reason for this down plane except for the people on board.  Soon America found that the passengers were heroes who had come against the hijackers, diverting the plane from it’s target: the White House – The home and office of the highest ranking person our country has.

The inevitable final blow came as the once wondrous Twin Towers’ structure gave way, sending the mighty skyscrapers to the streets of New York City.  The famous Manhattan skyline was now a beauty of the past.  No longer do the majestic Towers stand. It was a day of mourning for the number one nation of power. It was a day that will go down in history.

The personal story:

In the early hours of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I was awaken by the voice of my little sister, Aimee, on the answering machine saying, “Eryn umm this is Aimee, something bad happened- ”

I flew out of bed, grabbing the phone in a panic, thinking something happened to my precious ten year old sister.  I demanded to know what happened and where our mother was. Aimee immediately told me she was okay, but said that some bad guys blew up a building.  She was stumbling over her words trying to tell the story. My mom took the phone from her and explained that some hijackers flew a plane into the World Trade Center towers. In utter astonishment and disbelief I asked for more information like who did this and when did it happen!  Mom proceeded to tell me that not only were the Twin Towers hit but also one part of the Pentagon too, in the same fashion – a commercial airliner slamming into the building at full force. It was too much to take in, too much to believe, so quickly, I turned on the television news and saw that it was true.  I had to hang up the phone to digest the information and watch for myself.

The news replayed the sickening images of the planes flying into the buildings, over and over from different angles. Eye witnesses were interviewed. Panic could be heard from the surrounding crowds. Every channel had it playing.  Then as the news told of the FAA grounding all other flights, they mention that one plane has not responded. Soon they find out that it had crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. It’s surmised that this one was heading to Washington D.C. too, but no answers are known  at this point.

Not long after I turned on the t.v. I watched the burning towers – those 110 story buildings come crashing down to the ground in a cloud of smoke and rubble.

I lived in San Diego, California at the time, just a handful of miles from Miramar Marine Corp Airstation base where soldiers are trained to fly F-16s. As I stayed glued to the news, one by one I heard the jets scramble into the air, most likely heading to the coast, protecting the western border of the country. It was a scary sound, knowing that they weren’t just doing maneuvers and practicing like I normally heard them, but this time were being called to duty. Yet at the same time, I felt protected knowing they were so close and ready to defend.

For the rest of the day, I tried to go about my normal routine. I had a job interview. I went to the grocery store. I came back home and was greeted by my upstairs neighbor’s giant flag hanging down his balcony wall. Numbly, found my camera and took this picture, forever cementing where I was when our country was forever changed. I never truly found the routine again. For the rest of the day I just wanted to sit in front of the t.v., hold my dogs, hold my boy friend (it was Jon, my now husband) and cry. I wanted to soak up every detail, hear every breaking story, talk to as many family members as possible.

After the eleventh it was impossible to watch the news anymore. They replayed and relived the moment of terror that gripped me so hard. I had become afraid and nervous any time something new broke into television programming. I didn’t want to see or hear it anymore, I was feeling it and that was enough. For the next few weeks the only thing I could tolerate watching were cartoons. I focused on funny and comical and those were the only things that brought me away from the every day feeling of fear and dread. I don’t think it was until the one year anniversary that I really started to feel like I could put away the anxiety and fear that this one day, September 11th, 2001 brought.

Today, September 11, 2012, I saw a man at my son’s school wearing a flag tie and it took a second to calculate what day it was, in order to understand why he showed an outward symbol of patriotism. I got a shiver up my spine I realized it was the eleventh and leaned down to Cameron, brushing his silky hair saying, “Do you know what today is?”

“No,” he says.

I smile, he was a tiny thought back when the terror happened, not even close to being alive. Still I say, “Remember last year when I told you about the bad men who crashed airplanes into the building in New York?”

“Oh yeah, I remember,” he says.

“Well, that day was today, but a bunch of years ago. It’s a special day to remember those people who fought for our country and gave their lives so that we don’t have to have these things happen to us again. Will you remember that for me?”

“Yeah, sure,” he says in his cute little way.

He will remember because I tell him. I will remember because I lived it. And together we will never forget.

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