News: CJ Exclusives

An Army daughter remembers 9/11 from Fort Benning

CJ photographer Maya Reagan with her parents and brother at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, 2001.
CJ photographer Maya Reagan with her parents and brother at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, 2001.

For five hours on Tuesdays, I had my mom all to myself. My older brother would go to his preschool near the airport in Columbus, Georgia, dad would go to Fort Benning for work, and she and I would return home to eat breakfast and watch Good Morning America.

Those days were my favorite. There was a certain innocent bliss about them that will be forever burned in my memory. The drive home from preschool drop-off, the time alone with mom, the cereal on the sofa. But one Tuesday, in particular, stands out among the rest — not for its bliss, but rather, because of the confusion. Sept. 11, 2001.

Sitting in the living room with Cheerios in my lap, I remember watching a plane tear through the South Tower in New York City like it was a flimsy piece of paper instead of the tallest building in the world. My mom stood staring at our TV, confused. It wasn’t a freak accident after all. Pacing in front of me, she called my dad. After no response, she called my grandparents in Minnesota and then our friends in Virginia who had family members working in the Pentagon. The world was confused. I was confused. Why was mom so anxious? Why did the Good Morning America people look scared? When would she get off the phone so we could eat Cheerios together?

That Tuesday was not like the rest. There would be no bliss, smiles, or Mommy Maya time — just pacing, anxiety, and confusion. The world changed that day. That Tuesday and the days and weeks to follow robbed our country of its luster, innocence, and spirit, only to leave us gasping for breath asking, what’s next? What more could the world throw at us? Only time would tell.