Editor’s Note: Teresa and Pete Maculan lived in Albany for several years prior to Pete’s transfer to the Pentagon with the U.S. Navy Seabees in August, 2001. This is a personal accounting of Teresa’s day on 9/11/2001 in Washington D.C.
Most of us were going about our day until about a minute or two after and the news wires had just broke the news that a plane had hit the North Tower. I was watching Good Morning America.
I immediately called Pete to ask if he had heard. We had just moved to Washington D.C. only a month beforehand. He was on his way out to a meeting at the Pentagon. I sat in horror as I watched the building on the TV screen burn and smolder only to be horrified at 9:03a.m. to see another massive plane strike the South tower on live TV.
At that moment, I knew, like all of America, this was no fluke circumstance. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I tried desperately to call Pete again knowing he wouldn’t be there, but not knowing what else was going to happen. As I sat glued to the TV watching Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer, I was paralyzed. I looked at Spencer, who was only 4 months old, and just couldn’t believe this could be his new world. Time slowly clicked away and it became time for Spencer’s morning nap.
At about 9:30a.m. I broke myself away from the TV, changed his diaper and put him in his crib in our Alexandria, VA townhouse just five miles from the Pentagon. As I close the door and walk down the stairs, I stumbled and the whole ground shook. I didn’t realize what it was until the news said that it appears that I plane had just hit the Pentagon. My heart just sank! Who do I call? What do I do?
Pete was at the Pentagon and I knew I couldn’t get in touch with him. Time just seemed to stand still. At some point, I finally received a call from Pete that his meeting had been cancelled just as he was walking out the door so he was safe at his annex in Crystal City. It was the best phone call I’ve ever received. I felt so lucky to know that my life had not been changed at 9:37a.m. that fateful day, unlike so many others.
As we know, there was still a fourth plane that went down at 10:03a.m. in Shanksville, PA. I’m so thankful for all of the air traffic controllers that took charge and got all the planes down and accounted for, but we knew the day wasn’t done. Both towers imploded, over 3,000 dead or unaccounted for and extraordinary work lay ahead of all of our public security. At that moment, our great nation came together and stayed together for weeks to come. Even with such a horrific event, our country was patched together by pain, misery and fear, but we were ONE!
Every anniversary, I can replay the day as if it was yesterday. From feeling the plane hit, to having Pete’s friend Anne stay at the house because she couldn’t get back into D.C. to her home, to seeing Pete for the first time as I picked him up at the Van Dorn Street Metro Stop. It makes me realize just how much God has given me and my family.
It makes me even more proud of what my husband and so many others do, day in and day out, to protect our great country that was once attacked and became one, but has healed and yet separated again. I pray for the victims and their families. I pray for all those that volunteered from the trained professionals to those that just needed to make a difference. Most importantly, I pray for all of us and the future generations that we/they will never have to withstand something like this again.
Teresa and Pete Maculan lived in Albany for several years prior to Pete’s transfer with the U.S. Navy Seabees has