I was living in Pittsburgh, PA and working downtown. When I heard about the attacks, my boss and I were sitting in a meeting covering postal regulations when a woman came in and made the announcement. There was stunned silence. No one talked for what seemed an eternity. I don’t remember any noise as people began to file out of the room. Most were getting on their cell phones.
My boss and I sat on the front steps of the hotel where the meeting was being held as he attempted to call his family. I sat and looked up at the sky and remember thinking how blue it was and how nothing would ever be the same again. I kept thinking this was Pearl Harbor all over again. Then I felt the anger coming and the desire to strike back, but the more I thought about that the less I wanted to feel that way and the sadder I got. I don’t believe in violence for violence, but I knew that the world had just become an ugly place.
When we got back to the office, we got word that a plane was supposedly in our vicinity and there were fears that it was going to crash into downtown Pittsburgh. Then we heard it had crashed in Shanksville, PA and we all wondered where the heck is that? There were no televisions that worked on our floor so we tried to continue our work as best we could and listened to the radios that people had turned on. There were a lot of tears and fears for family who lived in New York. I think everyone in the building knew of someone who lived there or had a friend who had someone who lived in New York City. The rest of the day was surreal. I honestly cannot remember anything I did at work that day. When I got home, like everyone else in the world, I was glued to my television, flipping through the channels trying to glean the most current information. Both horrified and fascinated by the incredible images. It was like watch a car wreck, somehow you can’t look away.
The next day, when the ground stop had been declared I was a bit unnerved at how quiet the city seemed. I had never seen the sky without the traces of planes overhead.
In 1963, the innocence of this country was destroyed by the assassination of President Kennedy followed by the killings of Bobby and Martin. September 11, 2011 was the final knife in the heart of America. We have been an uneasy country ever since and may well always be looking over our shoulders and suspecting everything and everyone.