My husband was on a plane on 9-11. He was flying from New Orleans to Fort Lauderdale, changing planes in Orlando. As the plane made its descent, my husband looked out the window and said, "This isn't Orlando." The plane had been diverted to Jacksonville. As passengers were getting off the plane, the pilot was standing at the door telling them that he didn't know what was happening but the FAA had ordered all planes to proceed to the nearest airport and land--and the closest to them was Jacksonville. When my husband got off the plane, he saw everyone clustered around the airport TVs and learned what had happened. But there was no phone service for hours and I was frantic with worry because the news kept saying they didn't know how many planes were hijacked and American landmarks were being targeted. I kept thinking about Orlando and Disneyworld (quintessentially American) and how it might be a target. After four panic-filled hours, my parents (who live an hour from Jacksonville) called to say they'd heard from him and were on their way to the airport to pick him up. I know I was a lucky one--all my fears were in my head. Not everyone was so fortunate.
I had no real idea what was going on, although I'd seen the beginnings of the devastation on TV. Judy called me about that time to say that the people from Sears were at the house with our new refrigerator and that I needed to come home and supervise. The mundane things of life go on even when terrible things are happening elsewhere.
Yes--exactly. I usually listen to NPR in the morning, but my daughter had a big test that day, so we were going over the information on the drive to school. I didn't turn the radio on until after 9:00 and was surprised to hear Bob Edwards was still on the air. That's when I found out what had happened. I remember how Edwards just paused, as if willing his voice to be steady, when a reporter said the Pentagon had been hit.
I had dropped Jackie at school - it was the second day at a new school she had started with her friend Lola - and was downtown (Brooklyn) at the printers. As I started driving to the post office in Red Hook I heard about the first plane on the radio. I thought, it must be like the plane that hit the Empire State Building in 1945. Then they said there was a second plane.I got to Red Hook and parked. The buildings are low there (the projects are a couple of blocks away), so there was a very clear view to the Towers, probably less than two miles away. You could see the fire. Old-fashioned fax paper had blown all the way to where we were.I was unable to get on the highway - they'd closed both directions so first responders could get into the tunnel (the local fire company lost a lot of men), so I made my way home via the streets. I just parked when I heard about the first building collapse. Jackie's school was on a hill, on the third and fourth floors facing the Towers, so she had the teachers pull the blinds so the kids didn't have to look at it. They had to stay late until every child was picked up. Some of them had parents who never made it home.
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