I was taking my 19 month son to daycare that morning. Our 5-year-old had just started kindergarten weeks earlier. Both were completely unaware of my mood or the mood of the nation.
I knew by now what was happening in New York and at the Pentagon. But my thoughts kept returning to my parents who lived two hours away in the Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri area. My oldest brother, an officer in the Army, worked in Washington D.C. I tried to call him but got no answer. All I could think of was whether or not my mother knew and if my brother had called her yet. I just couldn’t call her with no information. I knew her speculation and worry in the absence of solid facts would be worse. But I was still 30 minutes from the KMOX Newsroom and the ability to know exactly what was happening.
I tried to drop off my son with little fanfare knowing in the back of mind that today was going to be a long day. Driving away now, I reached the intersection of Old Collinsville Road and Lincoln Highway in Fairview Heights. I was actually glad for the red light, a chance to collect my thoughts and make a plan for telling my mother that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon and no, I had not heard from her son yet but I was sure he was okay.
But I wasn’t sure. I knew his military life took him in and out of the Pentagon. Suddenly my cell phone rang. It was my father calling me. He is a news junkie and he probably had more information than I did but the most important detail he had was, “Your brother is okay.” I tried not to cry.
I later learned that my brother was in class at the International College of the Armed Forces, a war college at Fort McNair in DC. He and his classmates saw all the smoke but didn’t yet realize that Flight 77 had crashed into the Pentagon.
Little by little he learned of all the friends and former co-workers and bosses he lost that morning including a general he once worked for. He says the loss was so sudden and unexpected, making it harder to deal with. Later he says, he felt like all he was doing was going to funerals. His mood was dark for months. He says it was his relationship with God that helped him through. But he says he’s still very sad for himself and the families that lost so much, so suddenly that morning.