Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Memory of 9-11

A day in September of 2001 changed America forever. I will never forget the moment that I heard of the attack. On the eleventh of September, that morning, I was delivering a 34 foot Sea Ray pleasure cruiser to a guy in Elizebethtown, New Jersey. I spent the previous two days hauling the oversize load of a boat on a tractor trailer rig, arriving late in the day on the 10th. After spending the night on the marina grounds, the new owner of the boat arrived. He was excited about receiving his boat and was anxious to put it in the water. As the boat was being unloaded, he asked me if I had heard about a plane hitting the World Trade Center in New York. I answered "no" and he went on to say it must have been a small plane and a terrible accident. About 15 minutes later, a mechanic arrived to the marina, clearly shaken up. He told everyone that this crash involved a large commercial jet and things looked really bad. He was worried because he had relatives and friends that worked at the WTC. The boat owner turned on his radio in his pick-up truck so we could hear the live reporting of the crash. After a few moments we all heard the anchor guy on the radio stutter and pause, then say "I just saw a second plane crash into the second tower"....the mechanic turned and ran to his car, then raced out of the marina. I never saw him again. Somehow the boat was unloaded and I finished the delivery paperwork with the owner. Not much was said in small talk. I sat in the cab of my semi and listened to the tragic history unfolding, listened to the radio hosts struggle to find the words, listened to the shock of the first tower collapsing, then the second. I listened to the news that a plane just struck the Pentagon, then the fears of how many more planes were headed to do destruction. Next, there was news of a plane crashing in rural Pennsylvania. How many more were coming?
Later that morning, I called my boss in North Carolina and asked for my next load. He told me to stay put and that he was working on finding me a route to get back home. He was bringing all of his trucks home until the news of what was going on could be understood. All of the major interstate  highways from NYC to below Washington DC were closed. I did not hear back from him until late that night. He found a way back for me via a lot of back roads that led back to the eastern shore in Deleware. As I arrived at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel at 2 AM on the twelfth, I was stopped and searched by the local sheriff's department and some national guardsmen with bomb-sniffing dogs. Ahead of me, through the darkness I could see the out line of a large aircraft carrier crossing the tunnel, headed out to sea. That is my memory of that awful day. I will never forget.

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