The Sound of Freedom.

Some people think that premonitions are complete hogwash. I’ve had one.

That morning was over fifteen years ago. My life was very different then. The kids were very small–the youngest was still in diapers. That diapered wonder is now a senior in high school.

Just like everyone else, though, I remember that day as if it were yesterday.

I left the house for the hour-long drive to work at about 5am, just like I did every day. My husband and I were working opposite shifts so we wouldn’t have to pay for daycare. I would go in early; then he would meet me at 3 with the kids in the minivan. We’d high-five, and then I’d drive home with them.

As I rolled up the couple-hundred-feet to the end of our street, the radio station announced the time and date. “It’s five o’clock on September 11th.”

Nine-one-one. Today is 911. Something bad is going to happen today.

I sat there for about ten seconds, gripping the staring wheel, staring blankly ahead in the twilight of morning.

I’ve always been a numbers person. I’m the one who says, “It’s one-two-three” on 1/23. One of my coworkers actually thought it was really cute. He turned it kind of into a running joke. “Hey Susan, guess what…” he’d say, and then grin a big ginger-bearded grin.

This though… this feeling… it was nonsense. I shrugged it off, shook my head a little, and turned left.

I worked in a place that had nice-bright windows to the outside. The only TV in the building, though, was in the cafeteria. I was sitting at my desk, working away, with a chat window open off on the side. There I’d occasionally send a chat message back and forth with a friend of mine in England.

He saw the news on BBC and told me about it. A plane hit the World Trade Center building, he said. Oh that’s terrible, I thought, but didn’t think a whole lot of it.

A plane hit the other building.

At this point I started kind of mentioning it to the people in the cube area around me. Chatter started.

A plane just hit the pentagon!

That made me upset. I just remember putting my head in my hands, elbows on the desk, and thinking to myself, we are at war. I didn’t know who we were at war with–none of us really did.

I went down to the cafeteria. People were standing around with their arms crossed, silent, staring up at the TV. There was a lot of smoke. It was eerie and scary. I stood for only a few moments before going back upstairs.

They started sending people home from work. I remember driving in this bright beautiful sunshine, stunned. I should have been enjoying this beautiful weather; but I couldn’t even feel it.

We all went home and hugged our kids that night. Air travel was stopped for two days. Since we were right outside Boston, and we heard airplanes all the time outside work, this made it really eerie.

It was too quiet.

Back in Basic Training, a fighter jet had flown low over our heads while we were in marching formation. The Training Instructor (TI) hollered, “What was that sound, airmen?” People started shouting out the names of planes. He said “Nope… nope… that was the sound of FREEDOM. Don’t you ever forget it.”

I didn’t.

When air traffic resumed a couple days later, I was walking from my car into work. I heard the NNNNEEEAAAAAOOOOOWWWW plane fly overhead. Two women were walking towards me. They stopped walking, stopped talking, and looked up.

Once the plane was gone, they looked and saw that I was walking towards them.

“Do you know what that sound was?” I asked them.

They looked at me blankly.

“That was the sound of freedom.”

It wasn’t until quite a while later that I remembered sitting at the end of my street, gripping the wheel, thinking something bad was going to happen. It made me shiver. Of course, I had no idea what was going to happen; so there was no way I could have prevented anything. (People would have thought I was bonkers anyways–or, later, thrown me in jail.)

I will say, though, that I never had that feeling before that day, and I’ve never had it since.

I found this license plate frame on Amazon a couple years ago, and I put it on my new car. I have Air Force plates now, so it makes it even more fitting. Here’s just a mockup for you to enjoy:

(I actually made this with this neat little online tool.)

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About Susan Pitman

Susan is an artist who grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Texas. She writes songs, short stories, and books. You can follow @susanpitman143 on Twitter.

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