The people of my parents generation have always said, "I remember exactly were I was when Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot" or "I remember where I was when John F. Kennedy was shot."
And people of my generation have said "I remember where I was when Marvin Gaye was shot."
And the people of my generation now have an additional "I remember" moment. ...
"I remember where I was the morning the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center."
I clearly remember where I was on that sunny and bright Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001.
My job, which I'd just begun three weeks prior to that day, had sent me to Denver, Colorado to a Regulatory Science training course. I'd arrived from Atlanta that Sunday, September 9th, and was to stay the entire week. Early that Tuesday morning, I'd arrived to class in a conference room in the lobby of the hotel about five minutes late. I'd been upstairs in my hotel room dealing with a nose bleed. I was having trouble adjusting to the high altitude.
One of the instructors was finishing up a special announcement. I caught the tail end of it. He was saying something to the effect of "We'll keep you posted on the situation in New York."
I didn't ask anyone what was going on. I knew there was a hurricane swirling somewhere off the upper east coast, and I remember thinking to myself "Damn, that hurricane has hit New York!"
Class went on for a couple of hours until it was time for a break. The lead instructor got up and made another announcement...
"The World Trade Center Twin Towers have collapsed. They've been destroyed. They're gone."
Again, I remember thinking, "A hurricane destroyed the twin towers?"
During our fifteen minute break time, I went to the hotel bar. I remembered that it had a big screen television. I asked the bartender what was going on. He said that some airplanes had hit the World Trade Center.
I remember wondering how and why would some little crop dusters fly into the World Trade Center? But after watching the footage over and over during my break, I quickly realized that those were no crop dusters. They were huge airplanes. I was shocked and horrified. Just like everyone else in the country probably was.
I returned to class. The lead instructor said that if we had anyone in New York that we needed to check on, we had permission to go and make calls. No one left. We continued with our class.
I remember spending my lunchtime and most of the evening hours after class watching the news, not believing what I was seeing and hearing. Terrorists had brought down the World Trade Center Twin Towers.
That next day in class, the instructor said that if anyone wanted to leave, then they could leave. How could we leave, though? All air traffic was halted. Someone said that rental cars were not available. And two Amtrak trains had collided one state over in Utah, so train service was temporarily halted.
We were all stuck. We decided to continue the class. So I was in Denver the rest of the week, still trying to adjust to the higher altitude, fighting with my nosebleeds and constant dry mouth.
And also trying to adjust to the fact that terrorists had attacked the USA.
I called worried family members to let them know I was alright. I also called my new boss to let her know I was okay. People in class were struck with a fear of flying back to their homes, but I decided to just pray about it and have a little faith.
The class ended one day early because some of the instructors couldn't make it to the class due to flight cancellations. I left Denver that Friday. I wasn't afraid to fly because I'd spent the week praying and thanking God in advance for a safe trip home. So my faith was high. My flight was only two hours delayed, but it went smoothly. I must say, though, I was more than happy to see Atlanta again.
So today, September 11, 2005, I take time to remember one of the most tragic events in our country's history. I say a prayer for the families of the victims of one of the most tragic events in American history. This day has to be terribly hard on them.
And most of all, I hope and pray that terrorists will never strike our country again...
Never, ever again.