It was a day like any other, at the beginning of the school year. Hillary had just started her second year attending our town's middle school. That morning I drove to the school and dropped off some of her supplies that I didn't send on the bus with her. Since I still had nearly an hour before reporting to work in the kitchen of one of our elementary schools I went back home. I turned on the news and saw what I thought was old footage of the early 1990's attack on the World Trade Center when a car bomb exploded in the underground garage. But the news anchors were the (at the time) current ones. The time was a little past nine and as my brain tried to process what I was seeing and hearing, the second plane hit the second tower. My mouth gaped, my stomach froze, and I struggled to comprehend what I was seeing and hearing from the tv. All I could think to do was go to work, although I called my husband first because where he worked there was no tv and generally too much noise to hear the radio. He was, of course, shocked by what I told him.
When I got to work, the ladies that I work with were trying frantically to get in contact with their loved ones. L's oldest daughter lived in Manhattan, and M's husband worked there. At the time, cell phones were not as ubiquitous nor as advanced as they are now, so it was more difficult to contact people. They eventually were able to get in touch with them, but leaned on each other throughout the day as events unfolded. Although staff members were aware of the attacks, the principal did not want the young children told. Our custodian turned on the big screen tv in the lunchroom and as I did my job filling the vending machines we watched as the towers fell, people ran, and reports came in about the Pentagon and the crash in Pennsylvania. I recall seeing staff members in the hallway crying, hugging each other. The children were as they usually were. As we left work that day, the skies were eerily silent. Generally there are jets on their way to and from NYC and area airports, as well as the occasional single engine plane or helicopter. Only birds were flying that day and in the next few days to come. Our town lost a paraprofessional from one of our elementary schools that day on one of the flights, neighboring towns lost citizens who were employed in offices at the towers. Most towns around here have 9/11 memorials. Most also sent first responders to help in the aftermath. I don't know about other parts of the country, but in this area, the impact was huge, and is felt keenly to this day.