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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Monday, September 11, 2006


Code Indigo

My mom has always talked about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as one of the defining moments of her generation. She will always remember where she was when she heard the news of his death.

The tragedy that we know as 9/11 is one of the defining moments of my generation. I'll never forget where I was on the morning of September 11, 2001.

At the time I lived on 5th Ave in San Francisco with my boyfriend and another roommate. I worked as a technical writer, and that morning started out like any other: I was hung over and desperately trying to squeeze in just a few more minute of sleep before I had to get up and go to work.

My boyfriend had gone to move his car to avoid a street cleaning ticket. While he was gone, he called me and exclaimed, "Turn on the TV! Something has happened!" He may have said something about a plane and a tower, but I didn't get it. He had heard something on the radio and had called his mom to help him figure it out. She had told him about the World Trade Center. At that point, only the North Tower had been hit.

I turned on the TV and started watching in horror. He ran in and we both watched as the South Tower was hit. It was a devastating moment to witness, our confusion mixed with frustration as we realized that horrible things were happening across the nation and we were powerless to stop them and fearful that our City would be next.

We decided to stay home from work and we sat on the couch watching Peter Jennings (my all-time hero -- so sad to see him go) all day and into the night. And we worried. With each new discovery we worried. The collapsing of the towers -- just thinking of that makes tears come to my eyes. Watching hope fall is the best way I can describe that moment.

We worried about people we didn't know and about people we did know. Our home felt like an oasis of safety even though we also worried because of our proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge. At that time nobody knew the targets; would we be next?

Feelings of patriotism and the desire to declare our love of country happened almost immediately. My boyfriend found a tiny American flag and hung it from our mailbox.

We were happy and relieved when my roommate got home from school; what we knew as a family was together and safe. The events of September 11 began a time when the whereabouts and safety of loved ones was utmost on everybody's mind. Even though I didn't know anybody who worked at the WTC or the Pentagon, I felt much sadness for the victims and for their families, as well as for the people who lived in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

I still do.

A general feeling of fear and sadness hung over my life starting that morning and for many mornings afterwards. That was five years ago and my life changed dramatically after September 11, 2001. Maybe the changes would have happened anyway but maybe not. I certainly felt a need to move forward and reach more of my own potential after being given what felt like a second chance at life.

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