It was a rushed morning. I had volunteered for an early shift at the pharmacy where I worked part-time. I had rushed to get 5 children and myself ready, pack backpacks and diaper  bags, and get my 3 oldest kids to school. I loaded my youngest 2 into my van and headed for Paula’s , she was babysitting for me that day.

I turned onto the beltway and into a horrible traffic jam. I vaguely remember hearing of a car accident somewhere up ahead. “Perfect,” I thought, my stress level climbing even higher. A local radio station was playing tapes of outlandish 911 calls. My mood brightened as I laughed along. I remember noticing for the first time how beautiful it was outside, and thinking that I would take the kids for a walk after work.

The DJ came on, his voice no longer jovial. He had just received word that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. “It had to have been an accident” I remember thinking. “Why were they flying so low?”

I finally reached Paula’s house. She met me at the door in tears. I looked at her television and together we watched the second tower get hit. Standing in her living room, I saw for the first time what would be burned forever into my memory. We couldn’t fully process exactly what we were seeing then, but I remember thinking what I was looking at was hell on earth. Eventually, I stopped watching and left for work.

By the time I got there, the owner had already decided to close for the day. I recieved a call to pick up my children from school, as they were closing as well.  I retraced my steps from just a few hours earlier, in a world that was forever changed.

Over the next few days, I heard the stories. I heard about the firemen, walking resolutely up the stairs to save people, the look in their eyes telling that they knew they were walking to their death. I heard about people jumping out of windows, knowing they would die, but chosing to die on their own terms. I read about hundreds of people who lost loved ones to hatred on that horrible day, and I prayed. I prayed for them, and for us all, then and now. May God bless America.

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