That morning was sort of surreal as I look back at it.  In fact some of it is a blur now, some 7 years ago.  My wife & I were not married yet and had barely even started chatting it up (if I remember correctly).  We did work together at a .com startup that had made a splash in its shortlife span – Onetravel.com.

I remember coming into work and going through the normal routine of coffee, surfing and getting ready to tackle the day.  While getting a refill of coffee one of the people that worked there kind of announced to the whole room that a plane had just hit one of the world trade centers.  To be honest, when I was 21, hard I hardly knew what that really meant.  I knew they were big buildings… I knew it was in NY.  I had never visited, I had never really thought of them (other than the time they were bombed, I remembered that vaguely) – so it didn’t mean much at the time.  I figured it was a small engine, private plane taking a wrong turn and it would all get sorted out.

After going back to my desk to knock out some code, a congregation had kind of grown outside in the main hall and people were huddled around one computer.  I didn’t think anything of it, we were a team oriented company and so small meetings happened from time to time.

Before long someone had come in and explained that it wasn’t a private plane at all.  If fact it was an airliner.  The tower was on fire and thats when things changed.  It didn’t take me 5 seconds to realize what this meant.  Everyone kind of had that feeling deep down that this was a planned attack by some sort of terrorist – but everyone kept mum about it.  For a while at least.

I joined everyone out in the main area and read along and looked at pictures of the towers burning.  That infamous hole the shape of a plane gashed into the side of the building.  The smoke barrelling out of it.  The frantic looks and desperate people that were taken advantage of by photogs at their most vunerable moment.  That will never leave my mind when I think of that day.

Still with this happening, everyone kind of kept a spot in the back of their head for it, but went about their morning.  Then the second plane hit.  That shook the world.  Even our little world in West Texas. 

Things changed when that one hit.  It made clear the fact that this was not a random act… it was a highly planned event.  One that took time, effort and elusive strategy to carry out.  One that would set our nation into a series of events that still we are living out today and will continue to live for years to come.  An act that took fathers away from sons & daughters, wives away from husbands, grandpas away from grandkids and friends away from friends. 

Of course we were far away from NY, being in Texas – but it didn’t mean it didn’t make a direct impact on us.  Of course our eyes were turned directly at what was going on.  We were worried for those involved & effected, but something started to creep over the whole company.  This was going to effect the travel business… like it or not.  Watching 2 planes fly into a landmark… a third hitting the Pentagon and a 4th flying around who knows where… was not going to set well with travelers.  What does this mean?  This means our jobs were in stake.

So all the way across the country… people’s lives were turned upside down.  Gas prices rose.  War talk ensued.  Racism exploded.  Our quite lives suddenly got loud and we were thrust into a battle for our freedoms, our country.

I remember calling my Mom on the way home.  As I stopped to get gas I called and we talked.  It was a weird conversation that amounted to us not really knowing what to say.  I think I said something like…

Me: “Hey… guess you have been watching.”

Mom: “Yeah.  It is crazy.”

Me: “I know. I just wanted to tell you I love you and I wish I could hug you and tell you in person.”

Mom: “I know – me too.”

I’m sure there was more to it, but that was the base of it all.  That was really what I was calling for.  Wanting my Mom to tell me that everything was going to be OK.  21 years old and still yearning for my Mother to take the hurt & pain away.

I remember calling several people and telling them basically the same thing.  My life seemed so meaningless before.  After it seemed as if I needed to live a bit harder.  For those that got their lives stolen by some terrorists.

Hopefully – everyone else does the same.  

We will never forget.

What do you remember?  What is your story?

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