Everyone's 9/11 experience is burned into their memory. I thought I'd share my unique perspective.

Ten years ago today I was stepping onto a plane at DC's National airport to fly home to Atlanta for Jane and Craig's wedding.  I was flying down early - Lara was flying down the next day.  We heard that "a plane hit the Pentagon," and everyone was visually pissed at the inconvenience that was going to be caused by, what we thought was, a private pilot's carelessness. We then started hearing that it was a commercial airliner. Having been in security for an hour, none of us had heard about New York. 

The entire airport was evacuated, and we all walked, confused, across the bridge to Pentagon City, scrambling for cabs. Sprint's towers on top of the WTC had been destroyed knocking out much of the Northeast's cell service- and all lines were busy on what towers were active. I finally got into the back of a cab driven by a crying, confused gentleman from Afghanistan. He was scared out of his mind- and I, being a disconnected 23 year old, had no idea why - I guess that, once he heard what happened, he knew in his heart the origin of the attacks - knew that everything that brought him from there to here was following him like back taxes in spite of the work it took for him to be here. I was nervous, and, trying to calm myself, I was talking incessantly about nothing. He just kept apologizing.

I made it home, got in touch with Lara - she came to the house and we stared blankly at the TV for a few hours before making the decision to get in my car and start the drive to Atlanta. The wedding was that weekend, and we had to make it home.  

On the way down, the highways were deserted.  Even the parts of I-95 that are normally littered with construction were desolate.  We stopped to eat and stretch our legs at an outlet mall in North Carolina, where all the stores were open but empty, the staff of every store piled into the BOSE store watching updates on the only TV's they could find. 

The entire experience was like watching a silent film without the music. You could see everything happening around you, but something was noticeably missing - one of your senses left vacant because you just don't have anything left to say.

We made it home for the wedding, as did the bride (who was stuck in Texas and had to rent a car to get home) and celebrated a joyous occasion with mixed emotions and a sense that things were about to become very different everywhere we looked.


  1. A well told story. The fact that millions of people around the world will always remember the what, where, and emotions associated with that horrific event is telling in and of itself. I was a proud member of the US Air Force, stationed at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey and at work when the attacks took place. The feelings of confusion, the raw emotion, and the realization of what had just actually happened to one of the greatest cities in the world set in all at once. Everyone on the base was sent home to remain on telephone stand-by for what we assumed was going to be a tremendous response once the perpetrators’ were identified. See, at that time in my career, I was a Munitions Systems Technician which is to say that I built, tested, and assembled all of our nations explosive assets. I could not wait to do my job and defend my nation for a third time in ten years. I am not a warmonger and would rather that we only act as a deterrent to aggression of any type but this was really different to us all. I cannot begin to express how fast the anger, sadness, and willingness to do whatever it took morphed into something that I think is now missing today amongst us all, shear unadulterated resolve. I am glad that I had an opportunity to channel my energies into something productive because otherwise I would still be very bitter and confused versus confident and proud that our military is still very resolute in the War on Terror. We will never forget…
    Michael D. Hicks, MSgt, USAF Retired


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