Where were you?
I'd just gotten home from a shift in dispatch, and decided to turn on the TV while getting ready for bed. Newscasters had just announced that not only had one of the Twin Towers exploded, but that an airplane had just flown into the second one. What a horrible coincidence, I thought; could it be the second plane was a news aircraft filming the first fire?
It took only a minute to realize the awful truth. I didn't sleep that day.
As I watched a correspondant speak, I saw behind him what appeared to be part of a wall peel away from the World Trade Center. Nobody realized right away that the entire Tower had fallen ... once I realized that I knew I'd just watched a lot of people die, among them many dozens of my brother firefighters.
Within an hour every fire department in the country was placed on alert, as more attacks were expected. I stopped and filled my car's gas tank on the way to the station; by the time I returned home and price had jumped far above anything ever seen. To this day, I top off my gas tank just before the annniversary.
I must have been on the way to the fire station when the Pentagon was hit, because I was listening to a radio interview there with a reporter discussing the military response at the time. He heard a noise and felt the building shake; again, it was some time before anyone was sure what was going on.
My fire department had no calls that day, and I spent all morning trying to get in touch with my girlfriend, who was a 911 call taker with the New York City Fire Department. Not only was cell phone service down, she was at work and couldn't have answered anyway. She talked to some of the people who died that day. It wasn't until later in the afternoon that I knew for sure her dispatch center wasn't close enough to be effected by the collapse, although there was also the worry at the time that their building might also be targeted.
Yesterday, the 10th anniversary of the attacks, I went to a breakfast and memorial at the Noble County Public Library in Albion, where they did a great job with a 24 hour long observance. I was able to attend only a small part of it, as I once again worked a shift in dispatch that morning, but I wanted to thank them for my efforts. I also wanted to thank my fiancee Emily for her understanding and support; I tend to get down near the anniversary of the attacks, maybe this year more than usual, and I think I shut down a little the last few days.