I remember exactly what I was doing, where I was and what I was thinking/feeling on 9/11.
I was 18 years old, and I had spent the night at a former friend's house. I was crashing on the couch, and her dad just came in from his early morning job delivering news papers. I used the crash at their house a lot, so I was used to hearing her dad coming in at around 6am. Normally, I'd just ignore the noise he made and go back to sleep. On rare occasions I'd say a quick hello, ask him how his day was and then go back to sleep.
This time, it was different. He came in and immediately woke me up and said, "You need to turn on the TV. Now." I was stunned, but did as he said. I asked him if there was any channel in particular he wanted me to go to and he told me to turn it on to MSNBC. As I was still pushing away the cobwebs of sleep I was having a hard time really latching on to what was being talked about, but everyone was sounding very tense and worried. Then, I saw it. The backdrop to the coverage was a live image of the Twin Towers. On one of them was a huge plume of smoke.
"Is that....?" I asked.
"Yeah. A plane crashed into one of the Twin Towers. They think it was an accident, but they're not sure." the dad replies.
"When did this happen? Do they know who did it?" I'm completely glued to the TV at this point.
"It just happened. I heard about it on the radio as I was driving home. I don't think they know who did it, yet."
We sat there watching the news, quietly contemplating all the repercussions of this. How many people were hurt? What happened to the pilot? Was there something wrong with the plane? A thousand thoughts, feelings, concerns, questions were racing through my head and then the second plane hit. I couldn't believe it. Two planes?? Right then, I knew. Everything will be forever changed. In less than ten minutes, the way we look at the world won't ever be the same. There was no question any more. This was an attack.
What was really difficult for me was watching the anchor people really struggle with what they were seeing. I think Brian Williams was on that morning, along with another woman and they didn't have a clue of what to say. They were seeing this at the exact time we were, so they had no time to process what they were seeing. No time to compose themselves. No time to come to terms with the fact that one of their city's greatest landmarks was literally going up in smoke.
My friend woke up and came out of her room at this point. I can't remember who got her; it may have been me. I told her what had happened and it was around this point that we learned about the other planes going down in Pennsylvanian and the Pentagon. Everyone was quiet in the house. My friend's toddler son was up and being loud (as toddlers are wont to do) so she put him in their room to play with his toys as we all watched in horror. More and more footage was coming in, and more and more people were calling in. Experts, witnesses, politicians. All of them were trying to keep their cool as they were seeing what was happening.
Tunnels, bridges, borders, airports; everything was shutting down. America was locking it's doors.
It seemed like we were watching the news for days when, two hours after the first plane hit, the southern tower collapsed in itself. What was odd was the that people watching the coverage were aware of it before the anchor people. Tears came to my eyes as I watched, knowing that if someone survived that, it would be a miracle. As reports came in that the tower had indeed collapsed, the anchor people just couldn't believe what they were hearing and seeing. They kept asking the people who were reporting this if they meant something had fallen off the building, or if just a part of the building collapsed, and the people reporting would say, "No. The whole building has collapsed. There's nothing left. It's gone." You could hear them fight back tears as they were fighting to stay professional, trying not to incite fear or panic from their viewers.
September 11th has always had special meaning to me. My older brother's birthday was that day. One of my oldest friends birthday was that day also. I have always had a reason to celebrate and be thankful for September 11th. As I was watching New York go up in a plume of smoke, my thoughts went out to these two very important people in my life and about what was possibly going through their minds. Were they feeling guilty for celebrating their birthdays? Would they even want to celebrate it anymore? Would they feel like they shouldn't? I imagine I would be thinking along those lines if this happened on my birthday.
2,996 died as a result of the 9/11 attacks. 2,977 were innocent victims. The number of victims of the attacks perhaps cannot be counted. So many families are grieving the loss of their loved ones who died on that day. So many people who managed to survive the attacks will be forever haunted by what happened that day. So many people were injured that day, have suffered or perhaps are still suffering from survivor's guilt, post traumatic stress disorder. Many of those people will forever wear a scar on their bodies that mark that day. Dozens, if not hundreds, of firefighters, police officers, paramedics, doctors, nurses and other medical, emergency and military personnel have died or were injured as a result of trying to save as many people as they could from the attacks.
Children lost their parents. Parents lost their children.
Everyone around the world watched the day the world changed, just like I did.
For many in BC, while this is a day for remembering, it's also a day of joy as a little boy was returned to his parent's loving arms. Kienan Hebert has been found! Sparwood RCMP received a call at around 2:00am this morning and were told that Kienan was brought back to his family home. The Heberts were staying at a friends' house down the road and they saw a large police presence in front of their house. They went over to their house to see what was going on and they saw Kienan, in the living room, holding his blankie.
The suspect, still believed to be Randall Hopley, is still at large so please keep your eyes out for him and let the police know if you spot him or his vehicle, a light brown 1987 Toyota Camry, BC License plate 098 RAL.