The day is unremarkable, having started like most of my work days. I see my two children off to school, making sure they grab their lunches on their way out to meet the school bus. I feel the usual guilt of a working mom leaving her children, but still grab my suitcase, already packed for my three-day trip, then drive the hour to DFW airport. I park and ride the tram to Terminal E. Once there I head downstairs to the lounge and join the queue of flight attendants waiting to sign in for trip rotations.
A short briefing with my crew and we are off to meet our first flight. We go through the motions... safety demo, set up beverage carts, serve passengers...all the while remembering to smile. The third and final day of our trip arrives and we are ecstatic to be nearing the home-stretch.
After a short night in Lexington, Kentucky, our crew works a quick hop to Cincinnati, Ohio and land ahead of schedule. The passenger load is light this morning so all of us, passengers and crew members, are standing around in first class waiting for the gate agent to open the door so we can deplane. A first class businessman is having an animated cell phone conversation and after hanging up turns to the captain to explain that his friend informed him of what appeared to be a small airplane crashing into one of the World Trade Center Towers just moments before we took off in Lexington.
I look around at the somber faces, reflecting what I feel. We stand in silence for a moment and then suddenly the door is whisked open by an apologetic gate agent and we all jump to action picking up bags and head out the door. I hear a voice saying, “That is weird,” as we all go our separate ways.
My two coworkers and I speak of the plane that had crashed in New York City, still under the assumption that it was a small private plane with perhaps a disoriented pilot. We notice a large TV in a bar airing a panoramic view of the Twin Towers. One of the towers has smoke pouring out of its side so we draw closer, entering the bar and surrounding the TV to hear what the newscaster is saying. We collectively gasp as events airing for the first time unfold before our very eyes. The second tower becomes the camera’s focal point and we watch as what appears to be another small airplane crashes straight into the side of the building.
The bar is eerily quiet until a sob starts somewhere in the back and tears stream down our faces as we come to the realization that we are under attack. Until this point we didn’t really understand terrorism and the hate that some groups have toward Americans and our freedoms. Our world just changed in a way that we couldn’t even comprehend at that moment.
The thing most memorable to me is the silent sky. Void of airplanes and jets, the birds seem to have even stopped flying for days following the tragedy. I will never forget the events of 9/11 and the way our world changed in an instant.
Lisa Owens writes a monthly column for the Empire-Tribune and Glen Rose Reporter. Her columns are inspired by true events. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.