When I turned on the TV that day the Pentagon had just been hit. I was worried for my cousin, because he worked there at that time. I had not heard from or even much about him in years...but I was terrified he had been there. He was running late that day. He's never late. It took about ten minutes before I realized the WTC had been hit as well... I don't remember the exact moment I realized it.
I got the kids to school and I went to work. The other manager & I spent the day watching the TV and helping the very occasional customer. We sent all the employees home. We spent the day in shock. It was a day of quiet, of disbelief. Of commiseration.
My wife's college roommate was getting married that next weekend and we had plane tickets for Friday. I remember discussing with her what we would do if the skies had not been opened before then... we planned to make the drive, despite the length of it, with a one year old and a three year old.
Instead, we were aboard one of the first flights on the day they reopened the airport. As we walked aboard that plane, some were scared. Some were angry. We were all defiant and determined. There were many handshakes and hugs between people that had never met or were perhaps casual acquaintances.
Upon takeoff, the passengers broke into spontaneous applause.