September 11, 2001 We all have memories of this date if we are old enough and conscious at the time. That day was to be a big day for me and my colleagues. We were driving in the KHCPL Van to the Federation of Genealogical Societies Quad Cities Conference in Davenport, Iowa that day. In the busyness of gathering my belongings to take on the trip, we had not turned on the television or radio. I arrived at the library just a bit early not knowing that the first attack had already happened. Michele, our boss, had decided to forgo this conference and to stay in Kokomo to hold down the fort at the library. I was checking my email when Michele arrived and told me our country was under a national emergency. I was stunned, not knowing what that meant.
I quickly looked online to see what I could find. The news was not nearly as complete as I imagine it would be now in a terrible disaster. And it was time to leave as my co-workers Ron and Janice had arrived. They had seen or heard the news. We loaded the van and set out to pick up Julia who was riding with us to the conference. By the time we got to her home I believe the second tower had been struck. That was a very quiet trip across half of Indiana and the state of Illinois with only the radio constantly updating us on what was happening in the east. Shocking. They were telling us that all flights were being canceled. It was rather strange not seeing a single plane in the sky. Traffic was light due to our paralyzed nation. Then we saw the large plane flying from east to west, an eerie sight, we were sure we had seen Air Force One.
Here is an email I sent the next day.
"Hi my dear friends,
Wanted to let you know that we arrived safely. With all the flood of news yesterday, we had a quiet trip and arrived about 4:30. We listened to the radio all the way to Davenport, so had to use our imaginations to visualize the great terror out east. I prayed a lot and as quiet as we all were, I think there were lots of silent prayers being sent from the library van.
I learned that my cousin Ruth's husband flew in to LaGuardia from Japan yesterday morning, safely. I am sure they had some very frightening moments since they live and work in NY-NJ area.
I was finally able to call Ed and Amber this morning before Amber left for school. Long distance lines have been hard to access since we arrived. So this may be the only way to efficiently communicate.
I am on the computer at Davenport Public Library. I am thankful to have access here.
We still don't know if several of the conference speakers will get here since several were to fly in from one of the coasts and we heard there were 13 foreign (would be) attendees stranded in Spain."
The conference went on. Our first day was for librarians. I had to step out during one presentation. I went to the restroom and cried for awhile. I just wanted to be with my husband and my 15 year old daughter, Amber.
The conference hotel had set up televisions in all the hallways in the conference area. I would go there every break, mesmerized by the news. At every break more chairs would appear in these areas. There was a woman attending who had a son who worked in one of the towers. It was at least two days before she knew he had made it to safety and was alive. There were attendees whose plane was grounded in Chicago who found each other, rented a car and drove the last leg of the trip to Davenport. Many of the speakers added talks to their schedules to fill in for speakers who could not get there.
When the conference was over, we happily headed home to our loved ones.