Our vacation to the New England Coastline had been planned for months, our lodging prepaid and non-refundable. So it was that we boarded our flight from San Francisco to Manchester, New Hampshire on September 16, 2001.
That’s right, precisely five days after the world (as my generation knew it) changed irrevocably. Airplanes as suicide bombs? Hundred-story buildings disintegrating like those in an animated film? Fighter jets scrambling to do the unimaginable? My husband and I (pilot/flight attendant, respectively) boarded a scarcely populated aircraft and headed east.
The first breakfast held a table of twelve. As we all chattered about the basics: where are you visiting from…what do you do? The room grew quiet, all gazes drifting toward us. The rest of the guests were locals who had canceled trips to stay within driving distance of home. We’d not only traversed the continent in a “weapon,” we were part of the group that had been slaughtered before everyone else. Many rose from their chairs to hug us, offering words of praise with tears in their eyes.
We were heroes, by default, for the day…