It was a beautiful day. That's what I remember most of all. I walked to work - at the time both living and working in Georgetown. Got to my office, high on Wisconsin Avenue, with a lovely view of the Potomac River from the South side of the building. We could hear the planes flying down the river each day, could open the windows and catch a gorgeous breeze, and see the Pentagon on a clear day.
My co-worker came upstairs and asked us if we'd heard the news - 2 planes had hit the World Trade Center in a freak accident. We all headed down to the conference room to watch the tv coverage.
I don't remember the timing. I don't know how it all unfolded. What I do know is that, hand over my mouth, I looked out the window at the Potomac River, wondering who would do such a thing. I didn't notice the plane, flying oddly toward the Pentagon. I didn't see it bank sickeningly toward the ground.
I did see the explosion. And I screamed. My stepfather worked in the Pentagon at the time, but was blessedly on travel in South Carolina. My mother was at BWI Airport, waiting to board a plane for Arizona. My husband and I flew back from a trip to San Francisco 3 days earlier.
I remember the dozens of phone calls that followed. Terrified parents, spouses and children who saw the chaotic news reports and weren't sure if any of us were safe. For a long time, Andy and I kept the message that I left frantically on our machine. It chilled our blood to listen to the terror in my voice, screaming about where I'd meet him if anything else happened.
I remember the walk home - it was almost hot out, and sickeningly clear. I remember the hundreds of dazed, stupified office workers, wandering aimlessly about that morning. The tanks and military personnell all over our city. I was glued to the television all day - for days. I think we all were. I remember the new Black Cat opening on the 14th or so, and how jumpy all of us were to be in a crowd. I remember the piles and piles of flowers and candles left at the feet of the Ghandi statue at Q and 21st Streets.
Now Andy and I have an action plan - a trunk full of water, dried foods, and booze (duh). We have mapped out our escape route, and the way we would communicate if we're separated. It all makes me sad, even to this day.
Anyway, I don't really want to comment on my feelings about the state of the world, and I definitely don't want to argue, so please don't even try. I don't even know how to end this post. I'll just quote my friend Tom Bridge, and the beautiful post he did this morning on Metroblogging DC:
"I wish today that all who seek to do us harm would stop and examine the principles upon which we are founded: the equality of all people, the franchise of all people to assist in their governance, the freedom of people from tyranny and the dedication of this nation to rights of the people to be free from fear, free from want, free to speak, and free to worship. These freedoms come with heavy prices, which we have paid in the past, and are paying now, and will pay again. Understanding that, I hope that they can respect our freedoms, respect our desires and cease their pursuit of our destruction for not subsuming ourselves to a specific religion, a limit upon speech, and a poverty that only the tyranny of evil men can cause.
This is the result I hope for. This is the result I hope that my grandchildren will see on the Mall some decades hence, when I am old, and when this war is over. For now, though, I will settle for a day without bombs, a day without crashes, a day without fear. "