I don't know about you but I can still remember vividly what I was doing and how I felt on Sept 11 2001. We were living in Mississippi, having just moved to our new base a couple of weeks prior, and was still in the settling in phase. You know the house is a mess from all the unpacking and trying to find homes for things we had brought with us. My wife had arrainged to take some leave so we could drive back to Virginia and visit with family but we weren't set to leave until the 15th.
We had actually had a rather joyous day on the 10th as it was our only child's 2nd birthday and while we didn't know anyone at our new base we could invite over we did a lot of exploring and finished the day off with getting the birthday girl's picture made. After we got home that evening and put the little one to bed my wife and I went over our plans for her upcoming leave to make sure we hadn't missed anything and then she was off to bed to get ready for another day of in-processing.
I decided to stay up a bit longer to work on the computer and try and get a few more things squared away so I wouldn't trip over them in the morning. It wasn't long that I had become bored and tired and went off to bed myself. The next morning I woke up to my wife having already left (as usual) and my little one waking up and calling to me in the monitor (as usual). After getting her out of bed and down the steps I quickly fixed her some breakfast while tuning the tv to "The Powerpuff Girls" cartoon that she really liked. Usually I also go out to retrieve the morning paper as well but this morning I was feeling a bit lazy ( ok more than a bit..lol) and skipped it for the time being.
I had just settled in to my chair when the phone rang. I got up and went back into the kitchen to look at the caller ID, seeing it was my mother calling I figured it would be in my best interest to answer it. I grabbed the phone and was heading for the door to get my paper. I barely got out my "hello" before she was frantically telling me to turn on the news and that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I thought it was a commuter plane when she said this but she said no it was a commercial jet and that this was the second one. It was when she said this that I had opened my front door to step out and get my paper only to be staring at an SP (security police) at the end of my driveway holding his M16 at the ready and looking up the street. Upon hearing my door open his head jerked in my direction and told me it would be best if I headed back inside for now.
I didn't really hear what else my mother was saying because I knew at that instant a couple of things. First, we were at war and Second, that my wife might need to go somewhere to help out. I numbly told my mom I'd call her later and turned the channel on the tv to the news stations. First I was on CNN and then FOX and then MSNBC. I would change between these three the rest of the day. My now 2 year old didn't really mind that I had turned off her cartoons as she was happily engrossed in her play doh. I sat watching the news footage of the plane hitting the tower and then heard that one had hit the Pentagon. I thought I was going to throw up and was wondering if any of our friends stationed there had been hurt. Not 5 minutes late my wife called and told me to dig out her deployment bag and get out her checklist to make sure it had everything in it that she was suppose to have. I told her that my mom had called and I had seen the news and wanted to know if she was going to get to come home that evening. She said she didn't think so as the base was in full lockdown. I told her I'd call her back in a couple of minutes to let her know about the bag and hung up.
I headed for the closet knowing before I got there that the bag was ready but I double checked it anyway and called her back to let her know it's status. It was during that call that I found out she had volunteered to go to NYC to help with the rescue/recovery. I wasn't the least bit surprised by this and just told her to let me know if she got picked to go so I could make a few changes to my home schedule. She said she would and rang off. I knew she was very busy (along with everyone else on base) and I really didn't have anything I could do but watch the news footage and hold my daughter while wondering when the next time would be that I would see my wife again.
I spent the rest of the day, and deep into the night watching the news coverage and the door. About 2am I got another call from my wife letting me know that she wouldn't be needing her bag yet. I asked her what had happened and she told me about the volunteer lists already being full and that since she wasn't fully in-processed yet she'd have to go on the reserve list. She then told me that she thought she might be allowed to come home later that day (the 12th) or the next and wanted to make sure we were both fine. I reassured her that I had everything under control and not to worry about us but rather to do her job and come home when she could. She rang off after that and I went back to the couch to resume standing my vigil again too full of hurt and anger and shock to really do much else and wonder if the world would ever be right again.
One of my favorite songs: