Eleven Years Ago
Driving to my adjunct English instructor job at Ferrum College on September 11, 2001, I couldn't help but notice what a lovely day it was. I probably had lots on my mind: my birthday was the next day, my mother was undergoing rehab in a nursing home in Rocky Mount and would come to stay with me after the nursing home did an investigation to see if the apartment on my home's lower level was suitable, I'd recently lost a cat to lymphoma and still missed him, the lump recently removed from my breast was—thank goodness!—benign.
|Britt Hall at Ferrum College|
About 9:20 or thereabouts, I left my office to walk the short distance to Beckham. Going out the door , I met colleague Lana Whitehead coming in. I remember she was carrying her guitar. She asked if I heard anything about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I hadn't. We figured it was probably a small plane. We went on with our lives.
In class, I asked my students if any of them had heard anything about a plane. They hadn't. We had a normal class. Afterwards, as I returned to my office, my phone rang. One of the students called to tell me to get to a TV set—that the World Trade Center had been attacked. By the time I reached a TV a few minutes later, the news was all over campus.
In those days, students had cellphones, but there was no tower near campus, so service was almost non-existent. But we had land-lines. Students called home, and parents called students. Some had family or friends in New York City or Washington, DC. Many students immediately took off for home. When I met my 11 AM class, more than half the students were missing. I dismissed class and left campus.
On my way home, as I did every Tuesday and Thursday, I stopped at the nursing home on Hatcher Street. Chaos reigned. Mama, who had at best a fragile grasp of reality, was convinced that terrorists were coming for her. I told the staff that I would take Mama home with me the next day and to have everything ready. That was fine—they had no one available to complete the investigation.
Later, at home, I stayed glued to the TV. Over and over, the major channels showed video of the second plane hitting the towers and the towers falling. The enormity was hard to comprehend, but it's impossible to forget. What happened that day is not something to celebrate.
But it's something to remember.