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I was on the road, heading back to Romney after taking my mother to her adult daycare program in Cumberland. The radio was playing a popular song when an announcer's voice cut in to say "We've just had a report that two planes have crashed into the World Trade Center." And then-the music continued. One song finished and another began...and another. The announcer who had so much to say earlier was strangely silent.

I was left to continue to Romney with feelings of dread and isolation. Did two planes collide in midair with their wreckage falling onto the WTC? Did something momentous happen? What should I do? What could I do?

Then the announcer's voice broke in again to say, "A plane has crashed into the Pentagon." The music continued. Then the music stopped. The announcer's voice came back with lots to say...reports of Air Force jets taking off to intercept another plane...reports of damage to the Washington Monument.... speculation on the whereabouts of President Bush...a report of a plane crashing in Pennsylvania. Now the music had stopped completely and the air was filled with reports from news organizations and voices "on the scene".

As soon as I reached my house I headed for the phone. I had tried to reach our daughter (who, at 17 years of age, was living away from home for the first time-in a high rise dorm in New York City) on my cell phone but cell phone calls weren't going through. The regular phone produced messages that all circuits were busy. Calls came from friends and relatives. I managed to reach our older daughter who was also in college in New York State, about 300 miles NW of New York City. One of her friends was working as an intern at the WTC. Many of the people on her campus had friends and family who may have been at the WTC.

Finally someone called with word of our younger daughter. He was a friend of hers at college in Pennsylvania, and was in touch with my daughter via ICQ (an instant messaging computer service). Through him I was able to ask our daughter questions-he typed them into his computer, she typed her answers back and he read them to me over the phone.

Calls continued to come in. I was able to get a message to my husband who was away in Charleston that our daughters were OK. A sister in law called from England wanting to know why I didn't "drive right up there and bring her (our daughter) home".

Later that day after I had brought my mother back from her daycare, we sat in the living room watching a news channel. My mother, who has dementia, seldom comments on TV news other than the weather. This night she became quite agitated saying, "Ooooh, someone's in trouble! We need to go help them." I had to convince her that there were lots of good people already helping them before she would sit back in her chair.

I know I was shocked and grief stricken by what had happened but I wasn't really surprised. I had always thought that, given all the horrors that had happened in the world, we were so lucky to have been relatively free from them here.


Isabel Plowright, age 54

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