This day always bums me out a bit. Well me, and the rest of America. 12 years ago today was a day I’ll never forget. It just so happens the three days before that is a day I’ll never forget either.
Yep folks, I got married three days before 9/11. Which means my where were you on 9/11 story happens right smack in the middle of our honeymoon. The world had come to a screetching halt and we had to put on a happy face to squeeze every last dime out of our Caribbean cruise and overpriced day excursion in Cozumel.
It was 9:30 a.m. when the Captain came on for his usual morning announcements, except his tone was somber and he told us today was a sad day for America and to turn on our TVs and he would be back momentarily to brief us on what he knew.
We turned on our TV to CNN to watch the first tower burning inexplicably while the newscasters tried to guess what happened. Seconds later my new husband and I watched the second plane fly into the second tower on live TV. It still makes me nauseous to this day to remember that feeling. We watched in horror like everyone else that day when the Captain came back on to tell us we’d all been background checked and cleared. After an hour or so of watching the coverage, we stumbled shell-shocked out of our room to attempt to enjoy our day. It was a somber excursion to a beach in which I remember only wanting to talk about what was going on back in the real world. A couple attempting to relax next to us shakily shared that the husband worked in one of the buildings next door to the World Trade Center and he’d be at work if he hadn’t taken this vacation.
People needed a release on our ship and I think either that night or the next day they organized a memorial service for anyone who wanted to join. So many people were tied to people near or in the towers, trying to connect back home. Most were like me, just numb by how one minute it’s a normal Tuesday morning, and the next you’re not sure what’s happening in this world and if you can ever go back to normal.
It took me two days to realize CNN had never gone to commercial. It wasn’t until we got home that we realized the entire nation had pretty much stopped in its entirety. Cell phones were around, but not with the coverage as we know today and it didn’t even occur to me to call home to tell our family we were fine. Internet was not quite yet the go to source it is today and charged for access which was limited while at sea anyways. My cousin who was a travel planner and organized our trip frantically made back up arrangements for us to rent a car to drive back to Ohio from Miami in the event we could not fly out as planned the following Saturday.
It took forever to get for every single person to be cleared by the FBI to step foot off the ship. We were corralled out of our rooms in the morning and sat on various decks for 3 hours listening to conspiracy theorists, tall tales and hearsay being flung around the common areas like poo. The cruise line offered half off stays for the next week because so many people had cancelled for the following week.
Ultimately, we did make it home uneventfully. We rolled into Miami Airport on a shuttle bus, past heavily armed military units, bomb-sniffing dogs and people with mirrors checking under cars for bombs. Security was crazy high. Airports were eerily quiet and somber. The plane ride was even more quiet. You knew how tense everyone was when everyone cheered as we landed safely in Detroit. Cheered. NO ONE cheers when they land in Detroit.
We made it home and Monday returned to our lives. We’re still married happily and have two kids who have yet to know of that day. Fortunately, they’ll never have quite the same feeling about it as their dad and me. I just hope they don’t ever have a Where Were You When story in their lifetimes.