“I hope no one minds if I use this mail list to share something,” a friend wrote. Spoiler alert: we didn’t.

It was a member of our neighborhood book club, and she was using the book club email list to share her memories of 9/11. She was a teacher, living in Fairfax County at the time. At the end of first period, an announcement came over the intercom about what happened, and they immediately started the process of getting buses to the school so they could get the students home safely. Many Pentagon families lived in the vicinity, but the school had only one student whose father was there, and he was okay.

My friend’s daughter worked in Alexandria, and her building shook when the plane hit the Pentagon. Also, her son, a member of the Secret Service, was living and working in New York City on 9/11. As soon as he heard the news, he headed in to his office near the Twin Towers, but received orders to turn around and not go in.

My jaw dropped as I was reading my friend’s email. She and her family were a lot closer – literally and figuratively – to everything that happened on 9/11, but it brought back my own memories of the day. We were living in Minnesota then, and my husband was returning home from a business trip to China. When all flights were grounded, his plane landed in Vancouver, Canada, instead of continuing on to Minneapolis, and the passengers were bused to Seattle. He called me from there, and said, “I don’t know what’s going on, but…” I filled him in on what was going on, and he decided to rent a car and drive home. He got the last available rental car, and drove straight through from Seattle to Minneapolis.

It was 20 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. If you were alive at that time, I’m sure you do, too. It was one of those days that changed the world, and that you couldn’t experience – even from a distance – without it being indelibly imprinted on your mind. Like the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, or that Kennedy was shot.

Several other members of our book club shared their memories of that day, including one who had arrived at a building in Atlanta where she had a dental appointment in an office on the 15th floor. As soon as she entered the lobby, she was told by guards that she could not use the elevator, and that all office buildings in Atlanta were being evacuated.

She closed her story by thanking everyone else who shared their memories, and asking us all to pray that nothing like that ever happens again. I’d like to ask you now to join us in that prayer.

I hope no one minds.

September 10, 2021
©Betty Liedtke, 2021

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