I remember what I was doing 12 years ago today and I will never forget it. I was stationed in Germany at the time. It was my first duty station and I was there only three months when the Twin Towers were hit. My duty at the time was not my usual job in the unit. I was working in the Orderly Room (main office) at the time and it just so happened that a TV was put in there not even the week before so we could watch/listen to CNN while we worked. We’ll this particular morning, I had turned around from my desk to see what was on TV and I thought I was watching a clip from an old movie or someone had changed the channel. Then I realized that it was the news I was watching and started crying. I stood in awe as I watched the events take place and I broke free from the trance and called my mom. I was expecting the lines to NY to be busy but I got through. I asked her if she was ok, if everyone else was ok and if anyone was in the city. She told me everyone was fine and accounted for. After a few minutes, I hung up and continued watching what was going on at home.
It felt so surreal. I felt a bit numb. After work my suite mate and I watched CNN until late and we fell asleep on the couch in her room. I would wake periodically to see what was going on and go back to sleep. Soon after, Wiesbaden was put on complete shutdown. If you were within 250 mile of post on leave, they were recalled. We couldn’t leave post at all. I was on the way back from thee hospital visiting my now eldest son who had pneumonia when I got the phone call to return to post. I was on Gate Road in a taxi in bumper to bumper traffic and now knew why. They were checking every single car that came in or left out of post. I paid the taxi and told him I would walk the rest of the way. It so happened that one of the NCOs in the unit saw me walking and called me to get in.
When we got back, I raised the concern that I had to pick up my son from the hospital on the 18th and if I was allowed to do so. They said yes and I was to be escorted to and from the hospital. I agreed and the meeting continued. We had a guard schedule and different check points we had to cover. Most of mine were during at night, some where during the day. What I disliked most about it were the people who didn’t have identification, mainly upper enlisted and officer’s wives would make a claim like, “Don’t you know who I am? I am CPT So-n-So’s wife and I demand you let me through. I would have to say to them, “With all due respect, Ma’am, call your husband to bring your ID card so we can identity you. In the mean time we need to search you vehicle. There are no exceptions.” They would huff and puff but they would comply. Sometimes I would get a chuckle because at the time it would occur would be in the wee hours of the morning and a not yet awake Captain would scold his wife for being inconsiderate and then apologize to us for her. I can only imagine the conversation when they got home!
I got to go back home to NY that December and visited the site. It still smelled like burnt flesh and fire. Even now when I see the numbers 9 11 on a clock or ad, that smell comes back to me. It woke me up early this morning as it does every year. There was a small Cathedral near by and there were twins of flyers and flowers honoring those who died and were missing. It was such a sad sight to see.
Though I have never lost anyone to the event but I still mourn those who were lost or never found. I miss the well know icons so beloved in movies shot in New York. Now, there is a gap in the city line where the towers used to be. I went back with my husband (when we were still together) and they had just started construction on the monument. I need to go back when I have the chance and see it now. Hopefully, I will have better memories to replace the old ones.