That morning had been so hectic, I hadn’t even turned on the TV. I remember throwing open the patio door and sticking out a test-arm to determine the weather instead of flipping on the news like I usually did. My husband had left for work an hour earlier, taking our toddler daughter to daycare, so I loaded my then 6 year old son into the car, and headed toward school listening distractedly to the "Elmo’s Sing-Along Party" CD that had been left in the player the evening before. I didn’t even turn on the radio until after I watched my son enter the school building. A few blocks from school, I turned into the drive through at my favorite coffee shop, and was counting my exact change while only half-listening until I heard the familiar line "Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States." As I gradually got my mind around what I was hearing, I remember asking Gene at the drive-through window if he knew what was going on, he told me to get out of my car and take a look. So it happens that my first images of the terrible events of that day were viewed with my upper body stuck through the drive through window at "Cappu-Gene-O’s" with a caramel latte in my hand and tears on my cheeks.
After arriving at my office, we all poured into the big conference room watching the coverage and trying to understand what this meant for our world. I watched the pentagon burn and the twin towers fall on a 12 foot projection wall screen. I don’t need to describe my feelings those next few hours and days and weeks, you all know exactly what I was experiencing, we went through it together.
Where I bet our experience differs lies in the fact that we live in Omaha, NE. Strategic Air Command is right in our back-yard. While the rest of the country remarked on the eerie stillness overhead, we would hear and see the skies filled with activity. We all stood on the upper deck of our office building a few hours after the attacks and watched the blue-nosed Air Force One fly by to land out at the airforce base. We watched the eerily quiet stealth bombers soar overhead, always surprised by their sudden appearance in the sky. We were startled awake in the middle of the night by the roar of gigantic C-130 transport planes on their way overseas with troops and supplies. No, the skies weren’t quiet, they hummed with sounds I’d never heard before, sounds of war. I am strangely thankful for the noise. I think the quiet would have been more unbearable.
Four years out, I am almost surprised at how emotional I still am. I can’t foresee a day when my throat won’t tighten, where my eyes won’t well up when I remember those days. I can’t imagine a time that, when I see the film of hundreds of people lined up clutching photocopied pictures of their loved ones begging anyone who has any information to call them, that it won’t break my heart. I don’t think it will ever cease to sadden and surprise me that my 10 year old son knows and fully understands the phrase "terrorist attack", that my daughter won’t ever have any recollection of a time before 9/11. So there it is: Where I was, where I still am.