Robyn DeHart
Robyn DeHart


9/11, Robyn DeHart, tragedy, tribute

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There will always be those moments in our lives that we remember precisely where we were, what we were doing, when they happened. My earliest one of those was when the Challenger shuttle exploded. I was in the 6th grade and we were to watch the launch in science class, but I actually stayed home sick. So I was snuggled up on the sofa, settling in to watch TV and the interrupted the programming to show the launch. I remember sitting up as the shuttle burst into flames, I called my mom at work, shocked. And when we went to Arlington cemetery many years later, that was the memorial I wanted to see most because it was something that meant something to me.

I was in college during the Oklahoma city bombing and I could not look away from the TV. It was the daycare that got me the most, yes the other lives lost were tragic, but what kind of monster can put a bomb in a place with a daycare? All those tiny toys charred amidst the debris and them carrying out those little, bloody bodies. It broke my heart. Still does.

And today, today marks the anniversary of the date we all remember. I was at work. I worked at the university, my alma mater, in a small office with just me and my boss. I was talking to my mom on the phone and she was at home watching Good Morning America and they cut in to the broadcasting (it’s aired an hour later here in the CTZ) to report the hit of the first plane. While she and I were on the phone, the second plane hit. My boss came in muttering something about a terrible thing happening in NYC. I tried to find something streaming live on the internet, but the sites were jammed. Someone in another office rolled a TV out into the hall and we all gathered out there and watched. The Pentagon. The field. People jumping. The buildings falling.

Still today it is hard to wrap my mind around such things. Whatever your politics, killing out of some misguided sense of religion is just wrong. But these moments, the ones we remember so precisely, they shape us, change us. I remember as a child being afraid of Lybia because of stuff we learned about in school. And I remember the plane hijackings of the 80’s. But 9/11 was different. It was so terrifyingly real and close.

So you can remember with me today, tell me where you were or what memories you have, you can let it pass. But today, I needed to pause and remember.

12 thoughts on “Remembering

  1. Robyn; like you I was in the Central Time Zone so I was just getting up to get my daughter ready for school when the first plane hit. My toddler and I walked her to school and returned home to find a second one had flown into the other tower. My memories are of what a beautiful day it was, sun shining and everything seemed perfect. I’d been in New York the weekend before and my editor had pointed out the World Trade Center Towers to me when we were walking back from lunch.

    In the aftermath I learned that one of my cousins through marriage had been killed that day and I’m sad for his daughters who are growing up without a father, my cousin who misses his big brother and everyone else who lost something.

    I also remember something that my daughter who was nine at the time did. She drew an American flag on a piece of copy paper and wrote we love America on it. Then she taped it up in our car window so that everywhere we went people could see it.

    I can’t seem to stop remembering, Robyn, we travelled the week after 9/11 and it was a shock to have my little kiddos at the airport with a fully armed National Guard stationed everywhere. My son who was four kept asking if the guns the men were carrying were real.

  2. Patricia Schmitt says:

    Robyn, I was in the Air Force stationed at Barksdale AFB, LA. We were in the middle of an exercise (basically where we pretend we are at war) and I was working the 3pm-11pm shift. So on that day I was at home. It was probably 12pm when I got the call to report to work immediately. It wasn’t until I got in my car and turned on the radio that I found out that the Twin Towers had been hit. I cried the entire way to work and called to talk to my mom during the drive. Being in the military gave me a sense of pride that I was defending our great country, but at that moment I was ashamed. I felt like I had failed to protect the innocent people on those flights and the victims in the towers. It is truly a moment I will never forget.

  3. Karen says:

    Here in Australia it was quite late at night and our first born was only 6 months old and was a terrible sleeper. My husband and I were up with him and happened to turn on the television only to see unimaginable horrific vision. When the broadcast first started only one of the planes had hit one of the Twin Towers and they were of the belief it was some horrible error, and then the second plane hit. The phone kept ringing as my mother, brother and other family members phoned in disbelief. For the days following it was all that was on the television 24/7 and I remember having to turn it off after a few days because it was so terribly distressing. Even here in Australia there were so many people who had a son or daughter or niece or nephew or a loved one that worked in the Twin Towers or were directly involved somehow. The tragedy effected so many families all over the world. Something we will never forget.

  4. We were watching Sesame Street, and they interrupted the show. And I remember the quiet after they grounded all the planes…

  5. Margo Maguire says:

    Robyn, I got chills reading your post. I didn’t even realize I was shivering until i got to the end.

    Wow. I was home on 9/11, and several of my neighbors came over, and we were all just glued to the TV – I think we wondered what would happen next. Then thhe kids were sent home from school (my younger two were in high school). That weekend, we went to spend time with my daughter at Michigan State U. Just to be together.

  6. Lorelei says:

    I was a teacher’s assistant and while helping the students begin their work, the teacher called me into her office to see the news on TV. It was so surreal, looked like watching one of those movies, Independence Day, then panicked a little thinking of my own kids and what the schools would do for early dismissal, calling my family in NY/NJ. A day I will never forget…

  7. Alyn Yang says:

    I was too young to remember OKC Bombing. I just remember my teacher talking about it but I didn’t understand what was going on. I do remember 9/11 though. I was in 11th grade in my Composition class when a student from another class came rushing in saying that something was happening on tv and that we all needed to go watch it. Some students stood up to go but our teacher told us to sit down and stay in class. She left the room for a bit and when she came back, she gave us a writing assignment and left the room again. I had no clue what was going on. It wasn’t until later on in the day that I found out what happened in a different classroom.

  8. catslady says:

    I wasn’t working at the time and was still sleeping. My friend called me on the phone and I turned on the TV to all the horror. She wanted me to pick up her daughter from school but I was convinced they were better off staying where they were. I live in Pittsburgh and Flight 93 passed over our city right before crashing…

    I still remember being in my 7th grade algebra class when President Kennedy was shot.

  9. Shana Shana says:

    Robyn, for a moment I thought I was reading one of my posts. I too was home sick the day the Challenger exploded. And I was at work, teaching, when the planes hit the towers in New York. Talk about holding it together. When you’re dealing with so many students, you really have to put your own feelings aside and be there for them.

  10. Robyn, that day is etched so deeply in my memories… Friends from Germany had been staying with us for two weeks. That afternoon, they were booked on an 1PM flight into NYC where they were supposed to board a plane home. It was a stressful morning. Just one of “those” mornings where nothing seemed to go right. My coffee was cold when I finally had a chance to take a sip. I remember trying to keep a happy face (for the sake of my guests – the cold coffee and stressful morning wasn’t their fault) while grousing to myself about how I never got to drink a hot cup of coffee without nuking it several times. As I went to put the mug in the microwave, I dropped the cup on the tiled counter. It broke, leaving glass everywhere and coffee under my microwave, on the backsplash, in my utensil drawer and on the floor. I was working my way toward a pretty foul mood. Then the phone rang. It was my friend Christina asking if I’d seen the news. I hadn’t. I was too busy trying to send my guests off and clean up the coffee and mug shards. She told me a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. We both speculated that it was a terrible accident. I left the coffee mess and turned on the television. About a minute later, my blood ran cold as I watched the second plane hit. Suddenly spilled coffee and two weeks of house guests seemed like a blessing compared to the unthinkable that was unfolding before our eyes. It was almost incomprehensible. Then, as I gratefully cleaned up my coffee mess, mourning along with the rest of the US, wondering how I could help, what I could do, the more personal side of it dawned on me: My sweet friends were scheduled to fly that day. What if they’d been on an earlier flight? What if… What if… What if…But they were safe, their flight was later…ultimately MUCH later. They ended up staying with us for another week. And that was absolutely fine.

    About three weeks later, I had to fly to Memphis, TN. Armed National Guardsmen were on high alert at the airport. The sight of them had me sobbing. If it hadn’t already sunk in, I knew then that life as we’d known it in the US would never be the same.

  11. Terri Brisbin says:

    Robyn —

    I was home getting ready for work when my husband called and told me to turn on the tv. I did and watched until i had to leave for work. I work in a dental office, but the tv was on there all day and we were all in the waiting room as the towers fell.

    I kept thinking about the friends I have from NYC and my editors and worrying about them.

    Then the Pentagon was hit. A friend’s husband works there so more prayers began.

    Living in NJ, we were close to it — some emergency people and construction people went right up to start helping.

    But mostly I remember two things — the absolute soul-deep shock of the attacks and the silence of the skies above where I live in those following days. We’re on the flight path to the Philly airport and it was so very strange to not see and hear plans overhead….

    So, I’m remembering today, too.

  12. Karen H in NC says:

    Something that sticks in my head is watching someone commit murder on live TV. That would be when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. I was watching TV and just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Aside from the tragedy of the assassination of JFK 2 days earlier and the funeral the next day…it was a weekend of hell for America.

    I didn’t actually see when the Challenger blew up. My son was watching TV before getting ready for school and said ‘mom…it blew up’. I went into the living room and they were talking about it and showing reruns of the tape. It was hard to imagine the classrooms around America watching the live broadcast of that tragedy. It puts life in perspective for everyone and just how quickly it can be over.

    I was getting ready for work and listening to radio when the first tower was hit. By the time I started work at 10AM, both towers had been hit. Only a few minutes later, the first one fell. I live in central NC and we have several military bases within 75 miles of Raleigh. My home is not on commercial airline flight paths, so hearing planes is usually military but not often….until that day. Seeing several pairs of jet fighters flying low headed northeast was a thrill in my heart and a chill down my spine. They are beautiful planes, but their mission that day made me feel proud and sad at the same time. It brought tears to my eyes…as it did just now writing about it.

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