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My "Where Were You Moment."

September 8, 2011 - Steve Schulwitz
I remember while growing up my family would share stories about where they were, what they were doing, and how they found out about world-changing events as they were taking place. Now I will be able to share my tale with my two step-daughters in regards to Sept. 11.

My grandparents spoke of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, while my mom and dad revisited President Kennedy's assassination, Armstrong walking on the moon, and on a local level, the sinking of the Bradley. Those may be tough to top, but rest assured, my daughters will get a thorough education about 9/11.

This is what I intend to tell my girls about the day terrorists invaded the United States.

At that point in my life I was working at Ripley Car Wash in Alpena, and it was a busy morning. There was a line of cars waiting to be washed before the garage doors even opened at 8 a.m. After a fast start it became evident something was amiss, because the amount of cars coming in for a cleaning slowed to a trickle, which was rare on a sunny, early fall afternoon.

While on break I got a call from my boss who told me a plane had hit the World Trade Center, so I made my way to the breakroom and turned on CBS.

Upon first glance I thought it was just a tragic accident and in a few hours things would be contained and under control. It would only be a matter of seconds before I realized that would not be the case.

As I went for the on/off switch, another fireball lit up the screen and I paused. At first it looked like the first tower had another explosion, but reality set in upon confirmation by the news crews on scene that indeed another plane had flown into the tower. My heart sank, anger and thoughts of revenge filled me, and once the news went global, we washed but another 20 cars that day, as everyone in town it seemed huddled around televisions.

Because it had slowed at work I went home and flipped between multiple channels searching for the latest information and video coverage of the event. I stayed up through the night, through rumors of other downed planes. I also took the next day off, as to not miss any other happenings. As the years have passed since 9/11, I can honestly say not a day goes by that I don't reflect on it in some form. If may be seeing a local fire truck or fireman, it could also be spurned on by a plane flying overhead, or even something as simple as smoke exiting out of a stack at a local plant. I don't know where Sept. 11, 2001 fits in in terms of tragic events that our nation has fallen victim to, but for me personally, it is at the top of the list.

I look forward to explaining to Jade and Caitlynn the details of that day and what happened afterward. I can explain how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are direct results of the attacks. I can also tell them about how it brought together a nation that was divided and the patriotism each and every American exhibited. Part of me hopes the 10-year anniversary of the event can once again bring our country together, to help us put our differences aside and to restore the focus on our reputation of being the greatest and most safe country on earth.


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