11 September 2006

Remembering

On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, I had arrived at my client's office around 8:20. This client had some of its employees on strike at the time, and I waited while they politely talked to everyone passing through the picket lines. It took about 2 minutes for each person to pass which wasn't too bad, I thought. After I made it into the building, I went straight to the cafeteria to get a coffee rather than going to my desk first. I got the coffee and made my way to the elevator. Someone said that a plane - they thought it might have been a 737 - had hit one of the World Trade Center towers.

But it's such a beautiful clear day.

That was my first thought. Then I remembered that a B-25 Mitchell bomber had crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945.

It must be crappy weather in New York.

I thought briefly about what a monumental rescue operation that was going to be, and headed up to my desk. It was about 8:50 AM.

A few minutes later, someone came out of their office and said that a second aircraft had hit the other tower. I, and many others, knew right there and then that this wasn't an accident. I remember someone saying, "This is war!". I didn't realize how right that person was at the time.

We tried in vain to check some of the web sites such as CNN and The Globe and Mail, but they were overloaded with traffic. We eventually found some French-language sites that were still available, and news came that a third plane had hit the Pentagon. I went down to a boardroom where a TV had been set up, arriving just in time to see the South Tower collapse. I know my mouth fell open, and so did those of many others in the room. Shortly thereafter, my manager came by and said that there was an evacuation order. No one knew why, or even knew if it was real, but no questions were being asked. I headed for the parking lot around 10:30 AM. On the way home, reports came in that United 93 had crashed in Pennsylvania.

I'll be honest - I was scared. At the time we lived relatively close to the airport in Ottawa, so I was watching for anything strange in the sky.

I picked up my son from day care, and went home. He was 3-1/2 at the time, so he didn't really know what was going on. So, the rest of the day with him was spent acting "normal", with occasional glimpses at CNN or the Canadian networks to get updates.

After all North American air traffic was grounded, it became eerily quiet except for the occasional 747 passing overhead on it's way to quarantine at Toronto Pearson.

Five years later, it's once again a clear, cool day in Ottawa - quite similar, in fact, to this day in 2001.

The world isn't, though.

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