Today (9/11) is a day of remembrance and reflection, whether you lost a loved one at Ground Zero, were in Manhattan when it happened, or if you were stranded on a tarmac wondering what was going on. It was a day that changed the lives of all of us and it also changed the way we travel and think. It’s hard to believe it’s been eleven years since this happened.
We all have our stories of where we were or what we were doing when the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center became Ground Zero. I was working at the fire department, on a day known as 911 Appreciation Day, until this tragedy struck our nation. There was a 911 cake in the kitchen of our center, sent by a local nursing home. A coworker and I were walking in the morning sunshine through downtown Baton Rouge to pick up breakfast for everyone, donated by a local restaurant, as thanks to the workers in the 911 center. We walked back into the kitchen of our center to see thee television showing a fire in a building on Good Morning America. Within minutes we stared in shock as we watched a second plane hit the towers.
Soon, all the phones began to ring in the 911 center. At that time, we were located in a sub-basement of a government building. A bomb threat had been called in and the entire building was evacuating, except for us. We continued to work as the bomb squad made a pass through our area, with dogs sniffing around. I remember calling all the fire stations in my districts, alerting them to go on lockdown, as I held my legs up for a bomb dog to sniff under my desk.
There were reports of a plane crash in the Pentagon and another that was aiming for the White House. Then the Twin Towers collapsed and we all sat there in shock. I wondered how many of my brothers and sisters in the fire service were in that building. Was anyone I’d previously met at the National Fire Academy in there? In 1999 I had taken a terrorist training course. The city where I worked was listed as one of the top targets in the US. It’s strange as I look back now at the cover of the training manual and see an illustration of the Twin Towers with a target aimed at the two buildings. I sat at my desk questioning if our building was next, since we were on the target list and wondering if I’d ever see my babies again.
I’m not the only one who had those thoughts. All across the US, people thought about their lives and how they’d lived until that moment. For me, I continued to honor my fallen brothers and sisters of the fire service by participation in my department’s Honor Guard. I also made a conscious effort to realize my personal dreams of travel and writing. After 9/11, my department sent our honor guard to pay respect to the fallen from at the National Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial Service. Below is that journey, briefly, in pictures. Where were you when the Twin Towers fell and how did the events of 9/11 change your life?