I was sleeping still when the first plane hit.
My mom woke me, saying, “There’s something wrong in New York. Like the world is ending.”
I raced to the TV just in time to watch the second plane hit. I felt completely displaced, like I was watching an incredible action movie, except it was 6 in the morning. When I finally started processing what was happening — that it wasn’t some cruel joke and it wasn’t just an accident — I heard about the third crash into the Pentagon.
Immediately I grabbed the phone: My new fiance was on the road in Seattle, and who knew if this was going to happen all across our land?
As the day went on and family was contacted, our whole neighborhood came out of our homes, turning on our car radios so we could hear what was happening and being reassured, by sight, in the knowledge that we were all still here. Several of us brought out our flags and draped them over our cars and even laid them on our rooftops so they could be seen if you flew overhead.
There was a quiet but powerful message: WE are AMERICANS, and you are GOING DOWN.
The next day, I went and donated blood with two of my brothers.
The silence overhead—no airplanes—was deafening.
Trudging through the thickness of that silence, my brothers and I, with several other of our little “neighborhood posse,” took up a collection for the survivors and the workers trying to gain control of the situation. We prayed, a lot. And we became focused on supporting our land, our people, our country.