Touchmark at Coffee Creek resident Dana Tramba reflects on her memories of September 11, 2001, and how the event changed her life.
Where were you, and what were you doing on 9/11? At 8:45 am on September 11, 2001, an American Airlines Boeing 767, Flight 11, collided into the World Trade Center's North Tower in New York City. I remember I was employed at the Robert Dole Veterans Administration in Wichita, Kansas, and was in the middle of conducting an employee workshop when it happened.
A man came rushing into our classroom and turned on the television. While we were staring at it, a second Boeing 767, United Airlines Flight 175, flew into the South Tower. It is difficult to erase from my mind the horror of watching both World Trade Centers collapse into a deadly inferno of rubble. At that time, we did not realize it was a terrorist attack.
Shortly after, a third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, crashed into the west side of the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. Then a fourth plane, United Flight 93, crash-landed in a field in Pennsylvania, killing all 40 heroes on board.
I rushed to the waiting room of the VA, wanting to be with our veterans. All day long, television repeated the picture of towers collapsing and people running. Veterans continued to come to the VA that day. They were reliving the wars they fought, and they needed to be with their people.
The following day I joined a small group of fellow employees in front of the VA, proudly waving our flags and waving as rush hour traffic drove by and honked. We wanted the world to know we were proud of our country, and nothing could keep us from serving our veterans.
They were still digging through the rubble in New York in December, and I felt an urgent need to be close to those I loved. I planned a family reunion with relatives I had not seen in years. I was determined not to let the horrors of this national tragedy shadow my life.
Life changed after 9/11. I had a better understanding of the results of traumatic war experiences, and my work at the VA was never the same. War became real while I cared for veterans who fought in WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
We saw an increase in PTSD and depression. I spent hours talking to desperate, depressed, and suicidal veterans on the phone. We talked about life, pets, family, and friends until I heard a knock at their door and knew they were safe: the help we had covertly requested was with them.
Knowing that tomorrow is never guaranteed, today, I choose to do only the things I want to do. We live at Touchmark at Coffee Creek in Edmond, Oklahoma. We are no longer eat at home in front of the television. Instead, we dine with new acquaintances and share stories. We visit with retired nurses, doctors, teachers, health scientists, social workers, engineers, pilots, veterans, and even a POW.
I wonder if the young people who wait tables at Touchmark are aware of what a privilege it is to serve this generation. Many residents spent years serving their country and family. They worked hard so their children and grandchildren would have a good life, and now they are reaping the rewards of their hard work. Together we enjoy our lives and homes. Surrounding us are the greatest generation of people—our forever friends.
Discuss with a friend: what are your memories of 9/11? Did this historical event change your life in any way?