A Part of History

Where were you on September 11, 2001? The September 11 that people say they will never forget. I won't forget. I really though that I would write this back in September. In fact, I had started this blog in September. It just didn't feel right to publish at the time. I am still processing that day, and I have given myself time to honor my feelings of that day.  

I was newly stationed at the Department of Transportation Secretary Dining Facility. For those of you not familiar with Coast Guard history, we were under the Department of Transportation prior to the 9/11 attacks and the Department of Homeland Security being created. Secretary of Transportation was Norman Mineta at the time, he was a really cool guy. 

That morning, we were serving a group of delegates to the US. I suppose they were discussing transportation stuff. We had just finished serving the first part of the breakfast and I was standing outside the board room waiting to serve the next course. There was fresh fruit to be enjoyed by all. As I stood there, quite frankly being a little bored, Secretary Mineta's personal driver came down the hallway and said, "turn on the TV, something bad is happening." Two of us on the 5 person food service team ducked into a small room off the hallway and turned on the TV. I remember thinking that I was going to get in so much trouble for watching TV in the middle of a breakfast service. Little did I know. 

I stood hunched over a little TV and saw as one of the greatest structures I had ever stood in front of bellow smoke and not knowing that it would soon crumble into a heap of dust, smoke and rubble. There really wasn't much to see on the TV right that minute, it was just chaos. I had stood in front of the massive building a mere month or so before that day while visiting NY city. I felt like I was watching a fictional movie, I was very much separated from what I was seeing and hearing being reported. I part of me was right there and so very far away.

As the falling of the towers was reported, I was only thinking of what we would be tasked to do. I really had no clue. That is when I though best to regroup in the kitchen and then go from there. When I got back to the kitchen, it was a mad scramble to get things in order and ready for whatever we were supposed to be doing. The delegates were being brought back to the airport immediately, and the bustle of meetings began. That morning slowed to a foggy crawl. The USA was being attacked, but this is a country that is not vulnerable. We are supposed to be safe here. 

My Chief knew that the smallest of details could not be overlooked at this time, and that the support from the food service team was crucial. Of course it was, we have to make sure that everyone got fed and food got to the evacuation areas if everyone was evacuated. Except I forgot to buy the black beans for black bean soup. Horrors. I'll come back to that thought. Immediately, a call for water was put out and we were tasked to bring water to the offices so everyone wouldn't get thirsty while discussing how to save the US from attack. It was such a normal act in an abnormal situation. I found myself standing before Secretary Mineta's desk about to place the tray of water and glasses down, when I heard him say, "Ground all planes". I stood there watching history unfolding. I could feel the gravity of his words drop a new perspective to our freedom.

Shortly after settling things in the offices, it was decided that we would still be serving lunch and since Black Bean Soup was on the menu, I guess we really needed those black beans I forgot to buy. So, off I went to get some black beans; and while I was out, can I grab some lettuce, we were a bit low. I remember walking into the small grocery store around the corner from the DOT building. Every one around me was muttering of the US going to war that morning, yet here we were, grocery shopping. People weren't running around getting cases of water and essentials. People were talking, and comforting each other.

As the day unfolded, there were so many people lost, so many people comforting each other. No one asked for black bean soup. I ended up driving home with black beans and lettuce that day.