Where Were You on September 11, 2001?

I was at work at the MIT Media Lab when one of the students in my research group shouted to me from her office next door that her husband, who was in Brooklyn, had just seen a plane hit the World Trade Center.

“Oh my God, Missy, it just happened again!”

Then I knew.

I think we all knew.

I remember that it was just a beautiful, crisp, clear morning in the Boston area. Just like it was in NYC. Just like it was in Washington, D.C.

The frantic stories started pouring in. Planes were unaccounted for. There were reports some were headed for Capitol Hill (where many of my friends worked). For the White House. The Pentagon was hit.

The Pentagon was where my grandparents met.

I couldn’t reach my friends in D.C. I did, eventually, reach my grandmother in Alexandria, Va. She was quite distraught. I so wished I could have been closer to my family on that day.

A former coworker called me in the midst of the chaos because “she wanted to hear the voice of reason.” I’m afraid she didn’t find it in me that morning. By that point, I was panicking too.

MIT closed early that day, but I did decide to stay at work. What were all of those students to think if all of the staff abandoned them? Besides, it was comforting to stay and talk with others who had witnessed the horrible images that were replayed over and over on the television.

When I did eventually make my way home, what struck me was the quiet. I lived under one of the usual flight paths for Logan Airport at the time. But not a single plane was flying.

It was so quiet.

The above is what I remember about that horrific day. I also remember the colossal amount of goodwill that poured in from across the globe in the days that ensued. I hope we never have to face such a dark day again, but I was very impressed by how everyone came together afterwards to help each other recover and heal.


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