In five days, we will mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. When I got to my office this morning, as I was going through my piles and piles of email, I found one from a Dallas Voice reader encouraging us to do something this week to remind people about Mark Bingham, a gay man who was on United Flight 93 that day when the terrorists highjacked it and aimed it toward Washington, D.C.
I plan to do that later this week, here on Instant Tea. But first, I want to ask readers to share their own stories about where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the attacks of 9-11. I’ll go first:
Sept. 11, 2001 was the first day of my new job as a sportswriter for the Cleburne Times-Review. Although I didn’t have to actually go to work until later that afternoon, when I would be covering a high school tennis match, I was up and getting dressed for a meeting with my boss, the sports editor, about my schedule for that first week on the job. My girlfriend had already left for work and the kids were already at daycare, when she called on her cell phone as she headed for her job at Sabre, a company handling flight reservations for American Airlines. The offices were out near DFW International Airport.
“Turn on the news,” she told me. “Something bad has happened.” I asked what channel, and she said, “Any channel.”
So I rushed downstairs and flipped on the TV, standing in shock as I watched news reports about an American Airlines plane crashing into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. No one was sure what was happening, how such a horrible mistake could have happened. The TV station I was watching was showing live footage of the burning tower, and then it happened: I watched it happen live on TV as the second plane hit the second tower. And then the reports started coming in of a third plane hitting the Pentagon. And I knew — as everyone else did — that it was no accident.
There are so many individual moments from that day etched into my memory. I remember driving to my boss’ house for our meeting and the shock and disbelief of the DJs on every radio station. I stopped at a convenience store for a soft drink, and stood, with a large group of other customers, staring at the TV in the store as the horrifying news unfolded further. I remember my mother calling, trying to convince us that we needed to get out of the city and come stay with them in rural Southeast Texas, away from sites that could be the targets of more possible attacks. I remember driving down a two lane farm-to-market road later that day on my way to work, and seeing the motorcyclist passing me with the huge American Flag mounted on the seat behind him.
We lived on the south side of Arlington then, beneath one of the flight paths for planes landing at and taking off from DFW International Airport. And I remember in the long days after the attacks, when all commercial flights were grounded, standing in the backyard and staring up at the empty, eerily quiet skies.
These are the “photos” I have in my head of that day.
What do you remember? What are the images, the words, that will stick with you forever? Please share them here with us this week leading up to the 10th anniversary.