Thank God for that.
Five years ago I had been back in the country for a few months after a stint in Australia. I'd been working at a new job (with my current employer) for exactly 2-months and met the girl that would become my wife, though we wouldn't start dating for another 6-months. I'll admit I was living with my parents at the time (just for another week) when this all went down.
It was just after drying off from my morning shower I could hear my mother call from her room, "(Editor), you've got to come see this. They say a small plane has hit the World Trade Center." It was the urgency in her voice that persuaded me to come take a look, because in my head a small plane would not be a big deal. I expected to walk into her room and see on CNN maybe the tail of a Cessna sticking out or the spot where the "small plane" hit the building and then shots of it on the ground below where it would have landed, but that of course is not what I saw.
I looked at my mother and said, "There's no way that was a small plane." I didn't know what it was for sure, but a "small plane" it was not. Was it an accident? Maybe, but I doubt it.
Almost immediately after making that declaration United's Flight 175 767 smashed into the South tower. This was no accident. It was clear and deliberate.
About 30 minutes passed while I finished prepping myself for work and eating breakfast. I had no time to stick around and watch it on television. It was time to get started on my morning commute into the city. I don't care what was going on, it wasn't going to change my routine. I'd turn the radio on in the car and listen for any updates. Of course, it wasn't just updates - it dominated the morning news stations, even here on the West Coast.
Just minutes after setting out on the commute I recieved a call on the mobile spanning the Pacific Ocean from my ex-girlfriend in Melbourne, Australia. In her thick Aussie accent, panicke she asked, "Are you watching this?" I was a little annoyed at the time because I'd been trying to listen to the radio for all the latest info, but since she could watch it live I kept her on the line. We speculated on what was going on, then, while I was waiting in line to get on the interstate, she gasped.
"What?" I asked.
"There's a big fire at the Pentagon."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, they're showing it right now. It was an explosion of some sort."
"We're at war."
I wanted to get off the phone. I didn't think she would understand how I felt. In fact, I'm certain of it. She certainly did not want to come to grips with the "We're at war" comment, but she could not deny it, either. I was right and she knew it. Just like the right-left relationship of today.
Not long after news of the Pentagon "explosion" I had the worst exchanges I've ever had with a person. There were no hostilities - it was the shear helplessness of it all.
"Oh my god!" She screamed.
There was silence for a few seconds.
"What?" I demanded.
"One of the buildings just collapsed."
"What do you mean 'collapsed'? A few floors came down on each other?"
"No. The building collapsed."
"The whole building?"
"The whole thing just came down, all the way?"
"Yes. It crumbled. There's just a huge cloud of dust forming, now."
"The whole thing?"
"Both or just one?"
"Just one, I think. I can't tell."
"Did it fall over? What? Did it fall into other buildings?"
"I don't know - it just came straight down."
"That couldn't have happened. Something must have collapsed and just hidden the rest of building in dust or smoke."
"No. The building is completely gone."
There's no way to explain what I was feeling. Here I am in the car on the interstate getting live updates from someone in Australia on the attrocities in New York & Washington. All I wanted to do was get to a television, but that wasn't going to be possible for another 30-minutes or so, if even then.
It didn't seem very long between that South tower's collapse and the North's. Everything was so surreal getting the information over the mobile. All I wanted to do was fight & kill - exterminate the petulance.
At the office, I spent the rest of the day watching Fox News via the web. They were live streaming at the time and I don't know how I would have got through the day without it. In fact, I don't know how I would have got through those first few months without their live stream - not just Fox, but everyone.
So, that's where I was when it happened.
Here is where I am, today: "I will not surrender
/I will not submit