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I will never forget

I will never forget that day as long as I live. I can only assume that there are other days throughout history that are burned into other people's minds, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of JFK. This was a day I can remember almost minute for minute, which is incredible to me, because the only other days I can remember like this would be my wedding day and the birth of my daughter.

I was living with my parents at the time and working as a server in a restaurant. I was also a student at Mountain View. That morning, for some reason, I woke up a little earlier than usual and went to the living room where the television was already on channel 5. I never watched the news at that time so I was getting ready to change the channel when I noticed the images of the World Trade Center. Smoke was billowing out of the tower. At first, I thought I was simply looking at the building on fire, but listening to the newscasters told me it was something else entirely. No one knew why, but a plane had flown into the side of the building. People were saying that is was possibly a prop plane, or perhaps a plane that was having technical difficulties with the controls that had accidentally flown into the building. It was devastating for sure, but for a moment, people thought it was a freak accident, a one time flight gone awry, until the second plane hit.

 I was watching the TV when I saw the live feed of the second plane. When the plane impacted the building, I gasped. I will never forget it - my stomach jumped and I just covered my mouth with my hand, not knowing at all what to think. I just sat there, watching this screen, thinking what kind of awful joke this was, to publicize this movie trailer as actual news. It couldn't be real, I thought. It just couldn't. The newscasters started talking about how the hits had to be on purpose, that the second plane had even flown in such a way that it was obvious it's goal was to hit the WTC. Then, another report: the Pentagon was hit. And another plane had gone down in a field in Pennsylvania.

The look of people on TV in NYC was just the most terrifying of all. No one knew what this was about, or who did it, or what was to come next. Would there be more bombs? More intents to attack? What about World Trade Centers in other major cities? Was this over or was it just beginning? They grounded all flights that day. I looked up in the sky and saw nothing. Not even a small plane, and it was such an eerie feeling. Not since the days of airlines had there been an entire day where no one was traveling by air. No one cared, no one complained. Everyone was just terrified.

My sisters and I didn't go to school, as classes were cancelled, so we decided to go eat lunch. We sat in the bar of the restaurant, so we could see the televisions. No one in the restaurant was talking. At all. Everyone was just staring at the TVs, waiting to hear something. An explanation as to what this was about, a new target, another impact. Everyone knew this was a terrorist attack but we didn't know which group or why. We just sat there, barely eating, concentrating all of our attention on the television. Just then, a group of Armed Forces walked through the doors and sat down. I remember the thought that crossed my mind: "Their lives are about the change forever."

I went to work that night with a new trainee that was expecting me to have a good attitude, even though I was completely distracted. When I got there, the scene was the same. Quiet. Eyes at the screens. Somber. I remember we waited on a gentleman who asked for extra bacon and when he got his bill, he threw a fit about the extra 15 cents it cost. I went to the back and just yelled, "Thousands of people were just murdered and all this guy can think of is the 15 cents for his stupid bacon? What a jerk - he's got his family sitting here, enjoying dinner with him and so many people just lost their loved ones." I was so angry; I normally took stuff like that in stride, but at that moment, it just offended me to the core that this guy had the nerve to say anything about something so trivial when this world changing event had just taken place.

No one really knew what would happen next, or how the world would change. And change it did within the following ten years. But one thing is for sure, I will never forget that day as long as I live.


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