Homework Assignment: Where were you?

September 10, 2011

T1 came home from school and told me I had homework. Her history class, which is 1867 to the present, was told to go home and ask parents to write about where they were when 9-11 happened. That morning I had told T1 the brief story of where she was in case the teacher asked. So here is the longer version…

Backstory: In August DH, who did not have a permanent ship assignment, was asked to “Go To” another ship to relieve the 1st Engineer due to a sudden death in the family. He was gone a little over two weeks. When he got home we took a cross-country trip to visit family in Detroit. I remember this because my MIL kept wanting to make plans and because DH had no firm schedule I couldn’t give her any dates and when he did get home she suggested one hotel room for our travels.

Okay, my first instinct was, “Oh no way! My husband has been gone for two weeks after only been home for three, having been gone for at least months before that, knowing that he has to go back to work soon, and you want to share a room? I don’t think so!” Looking back on it now, I’m sure my MIL was just motivated by wanting to save money, either for us or for herself, and I do believe “savings” was brought up… but I was a little in my own world at the time. Thankfully, at the time neither of us was really hurting for money and my MIL is a great deal finder.

DH’s call back date was supposed to be around 9/10-11 but because he filled in for two weeks, he leave was extended accordingly. I really don’t want to think about the possibilities of him having been on one of those cross-country flights.

That morning we were taking T1 to her kiddie swim class. With DH home, I let him take her to class as I had already been in the pool with her that summer. I could go upstairs and work out on the stationary bikes. We heard the initial report that perhaps a weather or traffic helicopter had hit the building. I remember thinking, “Ooops.”

I watched DH and T1 from the observation window for a few minutes and then started working out. During that time, a family acquaintance got on the bike next to me and said planes had struck the World Trade Center towers.

I’m not sure of the time frame, whether the Pentagon had been hit at that time or not. I went down to DH and T1 as soon as their class had ended.

The events of the next few hours are so hazy. I know at one point we were getting gas and listening to the radio there was one erroneous report that New York Central Station had been bombed and myself and others at the pumps were just passing this information on like truth. Everyone was in shock and panic.

DH took me to Ladies Bible Class. I don’t know if he left T1 with me or not. We turned on the TV and watched. The Pentagon had been hit at this point and we had members of the congregation working there. We just prayed, and prayed.

DH remembers that he had to go to his grandmother’s to take her to see her husband who was in the hospital at the time. He remembers that the entry system at the senior center was hooked into the phone lines. With the phone lines down he could not call her apartment to tell her he was waiting for her. This is the only thing making me think he left T1 with me. He was gone the rest of the day.

Our loved ones checked in and other members of the congregation were fine. We lost no one personally.

I understand parents going and picking up their children–it is their right. What I had a problem with were parents saying out loud “I picked them up because I love them.” What about the child whose parent was a first responder or worked at a hospital or at the Pentagon or other military installation? What about the parent who relies on public transportation and just could not get home? Do they love their children any less? I just feel to say it out loud was insensitive.

I also loved the bulletin board posts from one person who couldn’t understand why the Pentagon was a target because of the “civilians.” Seriously? civilians may work in that massive mini-city installation, but it is the symbol of the US military. You’d have to be seriously out of touch not to know what is the Pentagon. One may not know about Camp Pendleton or Fort Carson or Pac Beach, but I’m fairly certain most people know the Pentagon is where all the branches meet and plan.

And sadly, T1’s namesake, who is a foreign national, said the saddest thing of all to me. I contacted her, knowing her location and her international ties at the World Trade Centers. She told me that “you Americans brought this on yourselves.” She mentioned that we are an unfriendly country, arrogant, racist, intolerant. All I could think of is that when her country came out from under Communist rule, they tried to commit genocide. How is that any more enlightened? And quite frankly, though I have only been to Great Britain (the most like us), I feel Europeans have their own racist and intolerant issues too. Our nation is a baby compared to all the others and still working on our issues–what excuses can these ancient, far more civilized countries, claim?

I thought seriously about changing T1’s middle name. But I named her for my friend for her strength in adversity, and perhaps for her strength of conviction, even if those views aren’t mine. She wrote a long letter to T1 when she left the country a year later. I haven’t read it yet. It is for another time.

I cannot watch the videos over and over again. At the time it truly messed me up. Even today it is heart wrenching and stressful. I’m grateful DH was home. We were worried he would have to drive to meet his ship at the end of the month but then flights resumed. The extra time gave him a chance to help his grandparents and to see his grandfather a few more times (he passed away in November). I am truly saddened for the 1st Engineer’s loss but I don’t even want to think about the “what ifs.” I’m glad T1 is learning about it. We should never forget.



  1. […] Homework Assignment: Where were you? (snipewife.wordpress.com) Share this:EmailFacebookTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post.  September 11, 2011  A Warm Cup of Comfort Categories: Uncategorized Tags: Brian Birdwell, Lord, New York City, postaweek2011, September 11 2001, September 11 attacks, War on Terrorism, Warfare and Conflict, World Trade Center […]

  2. DH has just let me know that we obviously have different recollections of the day. He did NOT take his grandmother to the hospital that day. He was trying to get a hold of her to tell her that her son was okay at the Pentagon. He also remembers that at the gas station he heard the State Department had been attacked while I heard the NY Central Station subway system had been bombed.

  3. […] Articles on SnipeWife: Homework […]

What Are You Musing About?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: