“We just watched all those people die!”

I was at home.

It was Tuesday morning and I was taking my time getting to the office. Aiden, one year old at the time, was sitting at the table, finishing up his breakfast. Christy, pregnant with Alyson, was in the bedroom and I thought she was asleep.

When the Today Show returned from break, I heard Matt Lauer say something about a live shot of the World Trade Center and how a plane had crashed into it.

I gasped.

I thought it was hardly audible, but apparently it wasn’t. Christy came bursting out of the bedroom asking, “What? What happened?”

Like many people, I just thought it was some type of small, private plane. But the image of the gaping hole with smoke billowing out of it was haunting. Then the news began to trickle out. This was no small, private plane. It was an airliner.

Was it some freak accident? A horrible coincidence? I tried to convince myself that this was anything but the elephant in the room.

I turned away for a moment and let Aiden out of his high chair. I heard Christy gasp and then a voice on the Today Show say that a second plane had just hit the Tower.

I joined so many people around the country and watched in shock as we watched the smoke pour out of the World Trade Center, desperately hoping that the first-responders would be able to rescue as many people as possible.

Then the unthinkable happened. The first building fell. And the second. All that remained in the skyline was a pillar of dust and smoke.

I was speechless.

Christy finally managed to say, “We just watched all of those people die!”

No, I reassured her. Surely they got everyone that they could out of those buildings. Initial guesstimates were that tens of thousands of people could have perished in the terrorist attacks that day. Horrifying.

My heart was full of pain, anger, and disbelief. The world was in chaos. Two more planes had gone down. How many more? We sat in the Living Room, wondering what else was going to happen. And why didn’t they get more of those people out of the towers? Why did they have to park the ambulances so close to Ground Zero?

I felt so powerless.

Then something happened that I will never, ever forget. Aiden came running into our room. In the midst of all of this chaos and terror, he was screeching with joy as he pushed his corn-popper toy. I wanted to grab him, hold him, and say to him, “Aiden, don’t you realize what’s going on here? Don’t you know what’s happening?” But I didn’t. I knew he wouldn’t understand.

In the midst of all of this chaos, fear, and anger, I watched joy and innocence as my boy ran through the house with his corn-popper with such glee.

And I wished I could have that innocence again.

What about you? Where were you? What’s your story?

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Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

Latest posts by Matt Todd (see all)

Sarah

I was in a bubble that morning. I had a job interview in Bristol. I was blissfully driving and listening to my music on my CD. After the interview I had to go have my blood drawn. The nurse kept going on about how worried she was about her sister who was in the Middle East. I was completely clueless. It was after 10 am and I hadn’t been anywhere near public communication. When I finally got to work, they had dug out an old 5 inch B&W tv and NO ONE was working, which was definately not the norm. I cried for days. All those people, their families. It didn’t matter if thousands had died, or one. Death is death. Wayne and I flew through NY City one month later. The ground was still smoking. I have often wondered how our lives would be different today had it not been for THAT day.

Jenny Curtis

I was working in the dental department of our local clinic. I can tell you the patient, the procedure, and pretty much what was in my hand at the time one of the nurses from another dept came in and quietly told us. I don’t remember much about the rest of the day, but our office was closed the next day. I was glued to the TV the entire day and I’ll never forget the news reporter (Peter Jennings, I think) taking a call from a woman looking for her husband. I have no idea how or why it was broadcast live, but she was frantically trying to find him, gave out her phone number (live, on TV) and was begging for people to help her find him. The desperation in her voice, the sheer panic…I’ll never forget it. He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald, I believe.