Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where were you?

My grandparents remember where they were the day JFK was assassinated. My mom would say for her it's the day John Lennon was killed. I will always remember where I was on September 11, 2001. 

I was living in Edmonton at the time, working for Air Canada. The morning rush had just ended and the check-in line was empty. One of my colleagues came by with a paper that he'd printed out from one of those on-line news sites that said a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Because the paper had a random heading of 'Novelty Sports' at the top I dismissed it as a bad joke. Over the next little while, people coming up to my counter were talking about it so my thoughts went from it being a joke to thoughts that it was probably a small Cessna that had ran horribly off course.

It was only when curiosity got the best of me and I went to the lounge to check out the TV did I realise what had actually happened. At that point the air space hadn't been closed and our flight to Denver was going soon so I was asked to go to the gate and help rebook people. Many our our passengers were were connecting in Denver going on to New York. The US boarding lounge had a television and I watched as the second tower was hit.  The rest of the morning was somewhat of a blurr as everyone in the airport was trying to soak in as much information about what happened as the TV could tell us. The one thing that stands out in my mind is the woman who was frantically dialing her cell phone while I worked on her file, trying to get in touch with family in New York. I could see the panic in her eyes when all she heard was a busy signal on the other end. It was a horrible feeling not knowing what to say. Knowing there was nothing you could do for her. Being thankful you were not in her place. After that I had a strong desire to call my mom, just to touch base and shed a few tears. Finding an available pay phone in the airport wasn't an easy task. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who needed to hear the voice of someone they loved.

We ended up with five planes in Edmonton when they shut down the air space and many of my co-workers stayed to help get everyone sorted out. I chose to head home and sit in front of my TV for hours and watch the towers fall over, and over, and over again. Looking back, I wish I had stayed to greet and help the passengers but in the moment I didn't think I could handle it. That was a very selfish choice and will go down as one of my greatest regrets.

Like the rest of the world, tomorrow I will remember.... remember the people who died in the towers and at The Pentagon, the first responders who risked their lives and the people on flight 93. May they never be forgotten.

1 comment:

Dave H said...

Well said.
I had taken the day off to work on my deck. In one of those "why did you do that" sort of moments I put the tv on CNN. I very rarely ever watch CNN but for some reason flipped to it that morning. They were just going to New York, it had just happened, no one knew what was going on yet. I didn't move the rest of the day. I watched as the second plane hit, the towers fell, the pentagon. It was horrifying and yet you couldn't turn away. I never understood as a kid when people would talk about "where were you when Kennedy was shot." Now I do.