Kristen (KVP) LaFreniere Profile picture
Sep 11, 2018 19 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
It’s Tuesday, September 11, 2018.

17 years ago, I was in Greeley, CO. My great-grandmother had just died and we were starting to plan her funeral in Denver a couple days away. Family was coming in, but not for a couple days. #September11
On Monday, I had worked out a plan. We would get all our stuff done early the next day and then we would order pizza and stay in the hotel Tuesday night. I was thrilled because the season premiere of my 2d favorite TV show, JAG, was to be 9/11/01.
We were on vacation when my grandma passed, so we were allowed to stay up late. I was 13. I think I stayed up until at least midnight reading.
I woke up to a new world. The hotel phone rang at like 7:30 CO time. It was my adopted grandma in Greeley, crying and telling my parents to turn on the TV. Both towers were already in flames. I saw Matt Lauer announce that the Pentegon had been hit. I watched the towers fall.
I’d never been to NYC and barely had context for what was happening. But I heard the president & the press call it an act of war. I remember being afraid that the press kept reporting where the president was. I felt much safer by the time he gave his official address that night.
The day was so weird. We moved from two rooms to one because the hotel was suddenly overrun with folks whose planes had been grounded. We went to go get gas and the stations were out already. Before they were shut down, one station was charging $14/gallon.
My parents knew of a little bookstore in town and we slipped into the geography section and bought a few books and tourist stuff about NYC that included the World Trade Center. We still have those.
I bought the Greeley Tribune and Denver Post every day. When I got home I asked my folks to subscribe to the Lubbock A-J. I kept every paper for months. I’m a historian at heart and my 13 y/o brain was just trying to understand what had happened to my world.
It wasn’t until late on Tuesday that it hit us what the grounding of all air travel meant for us personally. We had driven to Colorado.
But my great gran died in Springfield, MO on 9/9/01 and was to be buried in Denver on 9/13/01. But that obviously wasn’t going to happen now, because no one could fly her body to Denver.
Even when air travel picked back up again, there were so many stranded that she was considered “cargo” and they wouldn’t send her on. We stayed as long as we could, but finally had great gran’s funeral—without her—on September 17.
My grandma was literally late to (missed, in fact) her own funeral!
I only have to close my eyes and I can remember the terror of frantically calling my cousin who sometimes worked in the Pentagon to make sure he wasn’t there that morning. (He wasn’t, but as an intelligence officer in the USMC Reserves, he was activated within hours.)
I can remember the silence. I can remember flipping through the channels on TV and seeing even Nick TV and the Disney Channel offline. And I remember at some point realizing that the new season of JAG would *not* be premiering that night.
But I also remember how safe I felt with the other hotel guests. We all shared clothes and laundry detergent and snacks. We ate together as a hotel at breakfast. A lot of restaurants fed people for free.
I remember watching the first responders risk their lives again and again, combing Ground Zero for survivors. I remember the President throwing a strike in Yankee Stadium.
I remember my country and countrymen rise from the ashes of shattered steel and strike back against terror and fear.
Politics don’t matter on September 11. They didn’t 17 years ago and they shouldn’t today. We are Americans, first and always.

“We’re the brightest beacon of freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.”

These colors don’t run.

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