Two weeks ago I was powering through my "To do" list and had dropped Beth off at pre-school, been on the Internet and was about to do some ironing followed by updating Mel's Musings when I noticed I had a phone message. It was from my Dad saying he was very worried about us with all the stuff going on and could I call as soon as possible. As I was listening to this message, I turned on the television to see the shocking events taking place. I became one of the millions of people in the USA and around the world staring in disbelief at what was taking place practically on my doorstep.
Well, what does one do in such circumstances - makes contact with all their loved ones. So I picked up the phone, along with the rest of the world. Eventually, I got through to my family, not before they had become very worried - Anjie was actually in a real state as she couldn't picture where we lived relative to the Pentagon (35 miles south so I couldn't even see any smoke). I couldn't get hold of Nick as he was meant to be on the golf course when it all happened - having a meeting of course. However, he did call me before the phone system seized up and helped put it in a bit of perspective although he was still trying to find out what had happened. I also rang Nick's mother just to say all was OK.
I thought I was coping very well with all that was going on apart from the fact that I wanted to watch everything on the television yet I didn't want Jess to see anything. However, when I went to pick up Beth, her teacher asked me if Nick was all right and I burst into tears. I don't know whether it was the pregnancy hormones, the shock at being so close to it all, the distance from family or just plain sadness at the lives lost. The father of one of Beth's classmates worked at the Pentagon but hadn't gone in that day as his new baby had been born on the weekend. This was just one of the many stories of people who could have been a victim. Anyway, I managed to get a grip before seeing Beth and then we all went into Quantico, which was battening down the hatches. I figured it would be as safe as anywhere would and at least we were a bit closer to Nick (although I blissfully ignored the fact that the FBI is also at Quantico).
We ended up staying on base most of the day as security had been heightened, traffic was dreadful, the phones weren't working and it was nice to have the company.
So, two weeks later, it is still very much in everyone's mind. Quantico is no longer on maximum alert, but they are still on high security, which means ID checks everywhere. For several days, there was a sort of eerie calm as people still tried to take it all in. There was not a lot of panic. Gradually, however, the shock has given way to sadness and now anger with lots of fighting talk going on. I only hope that justice can be served but in an appropriate manner for a civilised country - not by lowering morals to that of a terrorist. War is being talked about, but I can not believe it will be the major invasion that so many here seen to envisage. Rather a series small incursions with the so-called 'surgical' strikes. I also hope that there will be no further attacks, although there is always a rumour of something or other.
We were very lucky - we only knew of one person working in the Pentagon that day and he was not hurt. We are unaware of anyone we know being a victim in New York or on the planes, but I suppose that will only be confirmed with time. It is also unlikely that Nick will be involved in any of the forthcoming "war". And we are also lucky that our children are too young to be aware of all of the events. We were definitely being looked after on September 11 and we thank God for that blessing.
PS From Nick: These are interesting times to be in the USA. The home base has been truly shaken, however some good will emerge from these terrible circumstances. Many Americans are waking up to a world beyond their hitherto rather insular horizons. They may engage a little more which can only be a good thing. For the first time they are really fearful (the sale of guns has increased enormously!) yet there is a real resolve. I have heard no private misgivings over the forthcoming serious and prolonged engagement, which they accept will be a bloody task. As someone said '"we have been inoculated against the body bag syndrome."