The events of this day touched the lives of some only one step removed from me. I will tell some of their stories here today.
My friend Jana worked at Fort Lewis. They knew what was going on before almost anyone. She called me from work, told me to turn on the TV, told me she loved me, and hung up. That was because there was word out at her work there were still planes in the air, possibly headed for more targets.
Meanwhile, at the Pentagon, her cousin was at work in her office. It was a routine day. No one knew what was going down. But she had a sudden need to visit the restroom, which was a considerable distance from her office, and walked briskly down the hall to the ladies room, thinking it seemed far to far away... She was engaged in her visit when there was an explosion and the whole building shook. As soon as she could, she popped out of the restroom and smelled smoke. Down the hall, toward her office, all was smoke and flames. She joined with those who were evacuating the building and found out later that the area which had housed her office had been hit by a plane...
Someone I talked to on a discussion group came out of the subway and found everyone freaking out. There was smoke pouring out of the World Trade Center when he looked up. People said debris was falling off the buildings. He turned around and went back to the subway, got on the next train heading back home, because he had a bad feeling...
Then there was a friend's uncle, who worked in one of the floors under where the plane hit, on the first tower. They were told to shelter in place. He basically said "screw this, I'm only a few months from retirement" and headed down the stairs. He had plenty of company, and everyone was helping everyone get down the stairs. I remember something about how they broke into a couple of water and soft drink machines and were passing them to people to keep them going, as they went down and down and down the stairs. Near the bottom, they started encountering emergency personnel, heading up. He got out before the collapse, along with a lot of others, living to tell then tale, which I heard later.
Just stories, of average people, caught in events almost beyond comprehension.
I raise a toast to the living and the dead--may we never encounter the likes of this again.