We were living in Tampa Florida and living the good life. 2 kids in school and a 5 month old healthy baby after a dangerous pregnancy. My husband had been retired from the Military for about 15 months. My father retired decades ago but still military man through and through.
We had gotten notices home from the kids schools that there was going to be a special visitor at a random area school and so there would be no check outs or check ins that day and no parents to the schools. If you child could not attend the full day, then keep them at home. ( roll eyes, yeah whatever). We found out on 9/10/01 that President Bush was the visitor and the school was still unannounced.
My husband left early for his daily commute and I dropped the kids off at their individual schools. I had the baby all ready to go in for his check up at the Pediatrician and was so excited because we could already tell little preemie man was catching up and fast. All I could think of is how proud I would be when that little chart showed his spurts and the Dr would confirm again how miraculously perfect he was.
In the “well baby” waiting room the children’s programing was preempted with a news person and grainy footage of a small commuter plane crashing into the tower. Everyone quietly went on about their business but we all come to the conclusion it must have been a horrible fluke with one of the tour planes in the Big Apple.
The Prince had his quick check up and we left, we stopped at Publix ( the local go to grocery store in Florida). I was midway down the frozen food isle and had a pack of Green Giant mini corn on the cobs in my hand about to place in the cart.
The world stopped.
Over the grocery store intercom in Tampa Florida came an obviously crying and distressed voice.
” A second plane has crashed into another tower of the World Trade center in NYC. It is believed we are under attack.”
The air had been sucked out of the store and it became dry and unsure, this was a dream obviously.
A lady further down the isle began shaking and wailing. A man behind me dropped his frozen food on the floor. Existence as we knew it, for my generation had at that very second changed forever.
I grabbed the prince in his car seat from the cart and headed to the door, leaving my cart where it was. I didn’t even know tears were running down my face until a man in the parking lot saw me rushing to my car carrying a baby and asked if I was ok.
I’m cant’ remember exactly but I think I told him, “planes are crashing into buildings in NY, people are dying” He asked me if I knew anyone there. I said I wasn’t really sure.
I jumped in my van and strapped in the prince, fumbled in the diaper bag for the cell phone that in 2001 was roughly the size of a brick. I couldn’t make a call, all circuits were busy? I was trying to reach my husband.
As I drove towards the kids schools one singular thought ran through my head. If America is under attack. I do not want my children near the President. I admit the rules and laws I broke that day probably put me on some watch list. I not only went to the schools and got my children when we were told we couldn’t. I drove onto the lawn, over the sidewalks and ran to their classrooms to snatch them from their seats. Not to the office to show ID and sign a check out list and argue with some person about procedure.
What it boils down to is this. If my country is under attack. I want my loved ones together. There is no note, or rule or a fire breathing dragon capable of stopping me from getting to my kids .
I got the kids rounded up and finally was able to get a call through to my husband he was on his way home.
By the time we all got home I was already calling my family in other states to tell them we were ok and NO , President Bush was not at my kids schools. Then we all told each other how much we loved one another and cried as we watched the news unfold.
Being a military daughter then a military wife. I knew if we were at war, it was a realistic possibility of my husband being pulled from his military retirement and back into service.
I made the kids go play video games upstairs and let them eat junk food. I cried and cringed and my heart burned for the people that were suffering. I had been able to account for all of my loved ones. How many people that day could not.
Over the next few days the entire country bought flags and magnets and antenna things and came together for the first time as a country in many years and for such grief.
I spent the next few days holding my family all a little closer and tried to explain to my children in a manner they could understand for their ages what had happened, and how. But I could not explain they why.
Kids see, a good guy and a bad guy. The bad cowboy has a black hat. The stranger has a ski mask. There is no ” in between” to a child. It’s simply good or bad, yes or no.
I felt it important to explain to my children that everyone in the swimming pool is indeed wet, but that does not make them all good swimmers.
If there are 2 kids in our neighborhood that spit on the sidewalk did that mean everyone should think EVERYONE in our neighborhood spits on the sidewalk.
I cried for the children, those that were lost and those that lost a parent or grandparent. I cried for every wife, every husband, every mother, every brother. I cried until I could cry no more. The Firemen, police, rescue workers, news crews, insurance people. The people in the buildings on the ground or in the planes, I cried for them all. From a distance, a very safe, unknown distance.
So when I take off my shoes at the airport or my under wire bra causes me to get pulled out of the security for a quick frisk. I try to remember that this is not done to piss me off. I force myself to remember the pictures of the people and the names of those that were lost or lives were changed.