I was 17, Sam and I got engaged the day before he left for Marine boot camp in California.
It was June 17th, 2001. I was upset about him leaving, but knew he would be back soon. I planned all summer to go see him graduate. We only spoke on the phone once, but wrote hundreds of letters. I quit my job when my boss wouldn’t let me have the time off. My parents were leaving to go back east on the same day as I was flying to San Diego to see him, we were heading to the airport together. Our flight date?
As we boarded the bus for the airport parking lot that morning, I heard something about a bombing in NY city on the radio. My dad, mom and I tried to figure out what was going on, but couldn’t make out what was happening.
Chaos ensued in the airport. Flights were being delayed and canceled, everyone was panicking. A flight attendant finally stood up on a chair, and told everyone that the World Trade Center had been hit with a hijacked plane and all flights in the US were grounded.
I remember it being eerily quiet as everyone just stood there in disbelief.
We waited around for a while until the airlines announced that no one was leaving for at least the next 24 hours. Still hoping that the next day would bring good news, and wondering what had happened in NY, we headed to a hotel to spend the night.
I sat watching the news in horror as the towers collapsed, and my dad said, “This right here – it changes everything. America will never be the same again.”
He was right. With flights not leaving the next day, and the airlines not giving any time soon for that, we headed home. Being 18, I was devastated more for me than anything else. I didn’t comprehend what had really just taken place. It was beyond anything I had ever seen.
In the next 3 years, my husband headed to war in Iraq and Kuwait, among other places. What I thought was just a routine military 4 years turned into combat training, being apart for up to 16 months at a time, and one of the worst days of my life.
It took several years, and a news special one night, to understand the impact of that day. 9/11 changed the world. Mine, and everyone else’s.
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