Twenty years ago I was working an I.T. contract job at a nuclear power plant in Upstate New York. As you might expect, security was tight even before 9/11. I had undergone a rigorous interview, background check, and had been fingerprinted to get clearance to work at the plant.
The morning of September 11, 2001 I arrived at work early, and we were into our usual work day activities when a buzz went through our office, “A plane has hit the World Trade Center.” Within minutes a second one hit the South tower; and then a plane hit the Pentagon. On a fourth plane, passengers attempted to overtake the hijackers and the plane went down in a Pennsylvania farm field; it is believed the hijackers were targeting the Capitol.
People rushed to their computers to get the news, crippling the Internet. We gathered in shock and disbelief. People filled the lunch room and lobby to see the TV news. Outside, the Coast Guard patrolled the waters of the lake; and the National Guard positioned armed guards on the rooftops. Frightened, nervous, confused, we carried on – we had our jobs to do.
The following day I had planned to play in a golf charity event. After some deliberation, the organizers decided to go ahead. We would donate the money raised to the New York City firefights. Usually the event was a raucous, fun-filled day; but in 2001, it was eerily quiet and somber. Hearts and minds were elsewhere. We raised thousands of dollars for the firefighters.
When I returned to work, I was met with heightened security. Roads were blocked off; heavily armed military personnel stopped and searched our cars, and checked our credentials before we were permitted down the road to the plant.
Americans said, “We will never forget.” I remember it almost like it was yesterday. What I remember most? I remember that on that day, we were all Americans, undivided. We Were One!
So much time has passed and much has happened. Today, 20 years later, when one-third of our population was either too young or had not yet been born, I wonder, “What will they remember?”
Do you have memories of that day? I’d love to hear your stories.