Twelve years ago I was on the subway when I heard the PA announce that the Pentagon Station was closed due to the terrorist attack there. Huh?
I arrived at work shortly thereafter, to pandemonium. Workers in my building were roaming the halls looking for a safe place to go, because there was a report that another plane was incoming with a DC building as its target. Huh?
I fired up my computer and saw, to my horror, that the WTC towers had collapsed. Huh?
We were at war. With who, Afghanistan?
Federal workers were discharged into the DC streets with orders to go home. Since it was thought (erroneously) that Metro was shut down, we all streamed towards our homes on foot.
I lived 10 miles away in Virginia, and walked home. Going over the Key Bridge, looking southward looked like a scene out of Beirut, with a huge plume of smoke curling lazily into the sky over where the Pentagon was.
Booms were heard. The street rumors were that they were car bombs going off in front of federal buildings (erroneous); I now believe they were sonic booms generated by fighter jets finally arriving over the nation's capital way too late.
America was never the same. For instance, you can't just walk into a building anymore.
I knew people who were killed in the ensuing (and continuing) war(s). The misnamed Patriot Act became law and stripped down our personal liberties, casualty rolls are horrific, torture became policy and our drones rain down death from the skies overseas (what goes around...).
At home, our departed liberties are not coming back anytime soon. And I started paying attention to and learning about a large religion, although I struggle mightily to understand it and comprehend the secondary place it assigns to women.