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Sunday, September 11, 2011


My heart is very heavy today. I remember. In fact, I'm not sure I ever really got over it.

I was 17. I had just started my senior year of high school, as well as my Fire and Rescue career. I was cleaning a closet in the EMT classroom because I was the teacher's aide during my 2nd block that year. The students were taking a test which I would later grade and hand back.

Penny Kelley, my EMT teacher and role model, came in to tell me that the 1st world trade center had been hit. I thought it was an accident. Then she came in to tell me that the 2nd one was hit, and at that point I knew we were under attack. We told the students to stop taking their exam and turned on the radio. I listened in horror as the smoke billowed from the towers and the papers and bodies flew out of the windows.

Then the pentagon was hit. That was it, too close to home.

I called my mom. After 6 tries, I finally got her on the cell phone. Because of all of the cell traffic, it was very difficult to make calls that day. Remember that I grew up only an hour outside of DC, so you can imagine how many people were calling in the area.

I walked through the halls of my high school hearing nothing but TVs blaring the information which I had just seen. Not one kid was in the hallway. Not one teacher was teaching. No one was talking. I went to my sister, Erin's class. I knocked and her teacher opened the door. I saw Erin sitting there, wide eyed and watching the TV. I didn't say a word, she picked up her books and came with me.

Together we walked out of school. No one asked where we were going, or for our hall passes, or anything like that. We were going home to our family.

Two of my friends who did not drive were waiting for us at my car, there were leaving too.  A lot of kids left. We all piled into my 1991 Isuzu trooper and went to our house. My mom was waiting with pizza. My mom rocks by the way. All through out high school whenever my friends and I needed a place to hang out, she was always there...with a pizza.

We all sat on the floor watching the footage and eating pizza. I begged my mom to let me go to the firehouse. I had been a member there for a little over a year. I was an EMT, and was in Firefighter I class. I wanted to be there in case something else happened, in case I could help.

After much convincing, she let me go. My friend Patrick, who was also an EMT at the same department, and I loaded up my car with everything we thought we might need for the night, or however long it might be. Sleeping bag, extra clothes, and mom gave us a whole stack of...pizzas. She said at least we wouldn't be hungry.

I sat at the firehouse that night for 12 or more house and we did not turn a wheel. The radio was quiet. Eerily quiet. No one went anywhere. No one was calling 911. We just watched the little TV in the day room and waited. And we had pizza.

The next day, school was cancelled. Suddenly everyone was patriotic. Everyone was more aware. We searched the house for all things Red, White and Blue to wear. Wal*mart was sold out of those little 50 cent flags that you buy to put in the yard or on your car. I tied ribbons to my car's antennae, I put a 4th of July table cloth over my back seats, I sat on the floor of my bedroom that night cutting the letters "FDNY" out of a plaid shirt, and gluing them to a plain grey t shirt to show my respect.

I still think about it sometimes. I wonder how on earth this happened to our great nation? I think about the families who were changed forever that day. I play Alan Jackson's "Remember When?" over in my head. As a firefighter/EMT I think it pulled at my heart a little stronger that day, but for some reason, 10 years later, it still does.

So that's my story. Whats yours? Where were you? Do you still think about it?

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