Saturday, September 11, 2004


I'm tired. I should have turned off the light, rolled over and gone to sleep. But instead I came back downstairs, fired up the old laptop and am now sitting here blogging....

I peeked in on my two sleeping children as I made my way quietly down the hallway. They look so cute and peaceful and I just want to hold them in my arms, snuggle them close....

I really hadn't planned to post anything about today. Well, at least not in the context of it being September 11th - the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks. But I just watched the news, and of course they talked about it, and now I just feel like I should say something as well....

September 11, 2001: My day began unremarkably. I had been a stay-at-home dad for almost 7 months (which means I was just getting used to it). My daughter and I had seen my wife off to work, had breakfast and were playing on the floor of our family room. Usually, I would have had one of the morning news shows on for a bit, but my 14-month old little girl had persuaded me to put on a PBS kids show instead.

About 8:50am my phone rang. It was my sister-in-law in Houston. "Have you seen the news?" she said breathlessly. "No, we're watching a cartoon. Why?" I replied. "They're saying a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center in New York!" I fumbled for the remote, and flipped on the news.

I watched for a few minutes, as conflicting reports were made. At first they said it was a small private plane. I was thinking, how could a pilot accidentally fly into a building that large? Then they reported that it may have been a commercial jet. That just seemed, to me, to be even more unbelievable. Certainly not something you hear about every day. I dialed my wife, and told her about it.

I was watching when the second plane hit. It was clearly a passenger jet. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I could feel a cold knot in my stomach. There was no way this was an accident! I dialed my wife again as the newscasters, clearly rattled, struggled to figure out and explain what was happening.

They started getting reports of other missing planes. A short while later one of them crashed into the Pentagon. Chaos seemed to ensue. We live just outside Washington, DC, and reports were rolling in that other planes were headed our way. They reported that a car bomb had just exploded at the State Department downtown (that later turned out not to be true), word came in that there were other explosions in the city (also not true).

The towers in New York collapsed. The FAA had grounded all aircraft nationwide, but the unmistakable sound of low flying fighter jets began to rattle our windows (this was to become an extremely common sound over the next few days and weeks as the Air Force began combat air patrols over the DC area).

I called my wife again and told her I thought she should come home. She was nearly 8 months pregnant with our son, and I wanted her out of harms way. Her office was too close to the city.

Much of the rest of that horrible day is a blur. I called my parents. I checked the food in the house and decided to make a quick run up to the grocery store. I filled the car up with gas in case we needed to leave the area. I cried quietly when I thought about all the people who had just died in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, and the families they must have left behind. I worried about my own family. I kept my daughter close and hugged her a lot. I prayed that things would be alright by the time my son was born the following month.

Now, it's nearly midnight, 3 years later. I want to go snuggle both my kids close. And I pray that love prevails and the world is a more peaceful place by the time they have kids of their own to snuggle.

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