It’s 10 years since the 9/11 terrorist attack on the US.
10 years ago on September 11th, I was in the Village, at my in-laws’ to be more specific. It was a workday but Misiu and I were, at the time, apartment hunting and we needed some paperwork from “home” for the bank. I was eating in front of the TV when Tomasz Kammel came on to describe a scenario which sounded like a teaser for tonight’s movie of the week. Then he added the words –ladies and gentlemen, this is for real.
We watched in shock at the gaping, smoking hole in the side of the World Trade Center. It was early and we still had a sliver of hope that it was some kind of tragic pilot error. We went to the other room and turned on BBC. On BBC we learned that it was probably not an accident. Then we saw as the second plane hit and we knew it was not an accident.
My gut reaction was shock, of course, and I wanted to vomit. The reporters speculated about other planes and other attacks. I waited for them to announce tragedies in London, Paris, Berlin, perhaps. It couldn’t be an attack just on the US, could it? And by whom? The reporters continued to speculate.
Dinner was abandoned, needless to say, as we sat glued to the television. We learned of another plane at the Pentagon and another in Pennsylvania perhaps headed to the White House. I was worried that the plane was heading to the nuclear power plant (Three Mile Island) in PA, aware that the fallout would hit my hometown and my family. Not that I was happy that the plane crashed in a field killing all on board, but I was relieved that it didn’t reach its destination, White House or nuclear power plant or whatever it was.
My phone had been ringing and beeping for a while now, but I ignored it. We watched as the towers started to crumble. The ringing and beeping of my phone stopped. It started up again an hour or two later and continued into the next day. The missed calls, voicemail and text messages were from friends and students. One of the first text messages I opened read, “Kryśka, turn on the TV”. Another read, “Finish your lesson and turn on the TV!” The messages later in the afternoon and the next day were all of sympathy and support for America and for me. Why for me? At my in-laws’, I was probably the safest American on the planet, but for many people I was the only American person that they knew. I really appreciated those messages and I still do today.
When there were no new attacks, the reporters continued their speculation. The international phone lines were not working so I couldn’t talk to my parents. It also meant that my (Polish) brother-in-law and his son who were in NYC couldn’t reach us either. Fortunately, they were alright and managed to find their way home. We drove home and wondered what the next day would bring.