Where were you?

I was on my way to work that morning, driving to Chicago on the Eisenhower Expressway. My kids were at school, and I had left Cinderella to nap on the couch after her early morning. I was listening to the Mancow show on FM--dirty jokes and insane phone pranks. I probably had a go-cup of coffee. And Mancow said that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I couldn't believe he'd have the gall to make such a sick show, but you know how those "MOrning Madhouse" shows are.

But he kept saying, "I'm not kidding. I swear to God--it loooks like a Schwarzenneger movie." I called Cinderella on the cell and said, "Turn on the TV." Just then, the radio crew started screaming as they watched the second plane hit.

She begged me to head home. "Just turn around." Idon't know what I was thinking. I was convinced I had to get to class. But I said I'd come home early.

By the time I got to campus, it was already bizarre. Fighter planes were in the air over Chicago--you could see them going past the Sears Tower. There were only about six students in class, and they had no idea what had just happened. I sent them home. "Attend to this day," I told them. "This is your Pearl Harbor. You must go attend to it." No doubt, a few of them went home and crawled back in bed.

When I got out, the campus was eerily empty. The A-V department had set up TVs in one lobby. Students with gray faces were watching the towers burn. And on another monitor, the Pentagon was in flames. Several Middle Eastern students were glued to the sets--the women in head scarves. And people were looking at them, and someone said, "You guys need to get inside somewhere." They left.

I headed for the car, and found black SUVs parked at building entrances. FBI? I don't know. Feds on campus, though. Jets above. On the radio, Mancow in fear--they were evacuating downtown, and he didn't know if he should leave the radio station.

By the time I got home, the first building had fallen.

And now, with The Today Show rebroadcasting the old coverage, I am going to go to work again, down the same road. Just another Thursday. And, like everyone else on the road, I will be wondering what, exactly, happened to my country--and the world--that day. Many of us stare at the distant towers of dntn Chi and wonder if the fire is coming here someday.

In sorrow, embracing daylight....

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