It's one of those era-defining questions. Where were you when United States astronauts landed on the moon? Where were you when JFK was shot? Bobby Kennedy? Where were you when the shuttle blew up? (I remember that one, by the way.) Where were you when September 11, 2001 became just 9/11?
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I had planned to take my 2 younger boys and take the Metro into DC to pick up some tickets at the MCI Center for an ice show we wanted to go see. I slept in a bit later than I'd planned, though, so I was walking out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around my hair when Michael's almost frantic call came in. He told me to turn on the television because something very weird was happening. None of our lives would ever be the same after that.
If I had been in DC when I had planned, the 2 younger boys and I would have been stranded while my oldest (then in 1st grade) was being delivered home as quickly as the bus could get him there. All the schools were closed right away and all the kids were taken home. All Metro trains were stopped. Whether we had been on one of the trains or just planning to use one to get back home before the oldest's customary arrival time, I don't think we would have found our way out of DC very easily that day. You see, we lived in Gaithersburg, MD at that time and our area was within that no-fly zone around Washington, D.C. that became eerily quiet in the days and weeks just after the attacks. We had a friend whose uncle died in the Pentagon crash. We heard the stories of local people who were lost in the blink of an eye.
We are still a blessed nation. Sometimes I miss the flags that waved on every single car that drove by for the next several months. If it's this painful for me to remember the way the whole world seemed to shift that one day 7 years ago, I can only imagine how the immediate families of all those hundreds and thousands of people who died must be hurting. I'll do today what I have done every 9/11 since that day and say a quiet prayer for all those families.