I left work, picked up my mother and spent the rest of the day glued to the TV. As a nurse, my colleagues and I discussed the possibility of heading to New York to help with the survivors. Hours later, it became apparent there were no survivors. In the next days and weeks, neighbors and families gathered, speaking in quiet tones as we shared our evolving stories, pausing and looking up every time a solitary plane would fly over. We all changed that day. Many of us lost our innocence and feeling of security. We discovered a fierce patriotism that had previously been lost to cynicism and distrust. More importantly, many of us developed a new perspective of the value of love and family; gratitude for the many blessings and freedoms that we, as Americans, expect to live with everyday.
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I was in a open field in Prairie City, Ore., population 7. Don MacQuarrie and I were on a 500-mile "Cycle Oregon" bike trip with 2,000 other bicycle riders. I was in my tent and was awoken by the sound of spinning helicopter blades. Two military transport helicopters came to pick up what I can only assume were some important personnel who were on the ride. I hustled to the mess tent and people had surrounded the SAG (support and gear) vehicle and were listening to the radio. At that moment in time we were only aware of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers in New York. I can't remember if it had been determined that it had been a terrorist act during that early news report. It was not until the end of the day's ride that we were able to find a bar, watch televised news and find a telephone. It was only then that I realized the attacks had occurred across the Hudson River from Fairleigh Dickinson College where my daughter was attending. She told me she could see the smoke from the towers over the city and several students had rushed home to their families because they had parents who worked at the World Trade Center.