I continued on my way and arrived at the bank a few minutes later. As soon as I walked up to the back door of the bank I disarmed the alarm and began prepping the tellers, setting up the windows, and opening my office as usual. I went to the back room and turned on the oldies radio station for some calm mood music for the customers. I opened the vault and went back in to my office, turned on my computer, and then went out to the windows and threw my cash drawer in just in case we got busy. Just as I was locking my drawer the radio announcer told us that another plane had crashed into the other tower. I stood frozen to my spot. The hair on my arms stood up in full alert knowing now what I had not even thought about before. This was no accident.
The tellers, my manager, and I all rushed to the break room to turn on the television. What we saw was beyond. Beyond what I had imagined. Beyond what I ever could imagine. We stood there staring at the TV, speechless.
The rest of the day was much of the same. Though we tried to continue on with our work the only words we spoke were about the terrible, frightening events of the day. As more news came to us about another plane hitting the Pentagon, and then the collapse of the towers, it started to feel like the end of the world. I almost expected to look outside and see alien spacecrafts raining down from the sky. It was absolutely unreal.
Time seemed to stand still. Only a few clients ventured into the bank making the day even more surreal. Each one looked pale and dazed. Some had stories of loved ones they were trying to reach in D.C. or New York. Some just had no words at all. Emails were sent around to verify the whereabouts of those we knew were in the danger zone. My best friend emailed me to tell me she couldn't get in touch with her brother who was a police officer in Arlington. The president of the bank sent a mass email letting us know that the group of our coworkers who had been in New York for meetings were safe.
That evening when I climbed the steps to our tiny apartment and saw Todd sitting in the living room a wave of relief washed over me. I knew he was only 20 minutes away from me all day, and that he was obviously safe, but I still had such a nervous feeling. I felt as though the rug could get pulled out from underneath me at any moment. That on a day like that day anything could happen.
We sat glued to the TV all night and cried. We cried for the people experiencing this tragedy first hand. We cried for the people searching for their loved ones. We cried for our nation. We cried out of fear. We cried out of anger. And we cried for the people who live in countries where events like these are not unusual. It was hard to stop crying.
I will not forget what happened on September 11, 2001. I will not forget how many lost their lives. I will not forget the heroes that emerged from that tragedy. I will not forget how we held each other up as a nation. I will not forget how dangerous this world can really be. I will not forget how strong the human spirit is. And I will not forget those who continue to fight for our safety and our freedom.
Today and every day I will remember.