I was just reading Left Leaning Lady's post for today and the memories cane back. I was in Grandview, Missouri at the time, teaching a future estimator how to use our software. There was a television on in the break room and we soon heard the loud voices through our closed office door. We couldn't make sense of what they were talking about so we went to the break room to see for ourselves. Everyone was talking at once, and since I couldn't fathom the thought of an airliner hitting the building, told my 'student' that we ought to continue where we left off. We had just sat down when the second tower was hit. Now we knew. We closed the office and I drove back to my hotel room in Lenexa, Kansas. I turned the TV on and sat there dazed, trying to grasp the enormity of it all. I called home and we shared our fears over the phone. I needed to be home; I knew that. But I was in Kansas and home was in Northern California and there were no planes flying. I checked with my boss and he got our travel coordinator to arrange for our rental cars to be driven anywhere they needed to go. We had staff scattered all around the country so there were about 2 dozen cars involved. It wasn't until later that I realized how lucky I was to have that rental car. I set off the next morning. As I traveled, the radio would fade in and out as I passed the towns on the prairie. And all I heard were stories of great bravery. Amazing!
Traveling on I-70, I soon noticed that the majority of the cars on the road were rental cars. Everyone without a flight to take was heading home. After about 12 hours I was approaching the Denver Airport and as I passed the turnoff I looked up and scanned the sky; not a single plane to be seen. Eerie! I got as far as Eagle, Colorado that first day after driving for 15 hours. I got the last room at the hotel and the clerk told me that every car in the parking lot was either a rental or one that had been purchased just for this one trip home.
One advantage to driving all by yourself across half the country is...plenty of time to think. And I thought about what had just happened almost continuously. And I think that long drive healed me in a way; I was no longer fearful. I was putting it all in perspective; my perspective, certainly, but still calm and rational.
The next day was a 17 hour day, but I was home. The day after my long drive, I returned the car to Avis at the Sacramento Airport. 'Life' began again.
To be honest, I'm not much for physical memorials. No one is returned to life by erecting them. If they comfort someone...fine. The memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attack is embedded in my memory and will never go away. The only physical memorial I approve of is the Vietnam War Memorial. It should be law that every President, Senator and Congressperson walk around this memorial to those killed in a wrongful war, once every year. Have them read the names as they go...