My son was 8 at the time and I had just dropped him off at school. I took my daughter, not yet 2, into the living room and gave her some toys and turned on the television. It was my usual habit on weekday mornings to give her some television time with Bear In The Big Blue House or Winnie The Pooh, or something similar while I did a quick bit of house cleaning.
The television was still on the channel we had been watching the night before, but was showing the local news. Before I could click over to Disney or PBS, a burning building caught my eye. I didn't know what building or where, but there was a lot of smoke.
With my daughter content, I went into the kitchen and turned on the television to find out more about the burning building. Along the bottom of the screen it said "World Trade Center, New York City". The picture never left the screen, but the newscasters were explaining that a plane had accidentally hit The World Trade Center. I assumed it had been a small plane with an inexperienced pilot. Moments later, to my sickening horror, I watched the live broadcast of another plane striking the other tower. Like everyone else witnessing this unthinkable atrocity, I knew immediately that this was a terrorist attack.
I remember shaking and feeling numb. How could this have happened? Were there more planes setting course for more buildings in other cities? My husband was at work at the Renaissance Center, the tallest building in the Detroit skyline, was he in danger? I wanted to talk to him right away. I needed to talk to him.
I'm not sure exactly what words I said, but "terrorist attack" and "please come home" were among them. He and his coworkers had no idea of the events taking place in New York. There were several calls back and forth before he told me they were evacuating the building and he was on his way home. A bomb had been found in the tunnel between Detroit and Canada. The tunnel runs alongside the Renaissance Center.
As the day rolled on, everything became more and more frightening. The Pentagon had been attacked, a plane had abruptly discontinued communication somewhere over the Midwest, and the Trade Center towers collapsed. I couldn't close my eyes without seeing that horrible image of people running down the street nearly enveloped in smoke and debris. It still haunts me. I think it still haunts all of us.
The next day, the church bells in our small town rang out at 8:46 am and 9:47 am in memory of those who lost their lives. People stood outside their homes and wept as they listened. On Main Street, those who were driving pulled to the side of the road until the bells ceased.
I don't know a single soul who was in the World Trade Center, The Pentagon or United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 but I still feel profoundly sad on this day. May we never forget.