On Sept. 10, 2001, my husband, son, his friend and I drove to Las Vegas, Nev., to celebrate my birthday on Sept. 11. Our reservations were at the Stratosphere Casino and were to include two shows on the 11th.

We arrived at 3 p.m., later ate and then gambled, but not into the wee hours, as none of us are big gamblers.

Next morning, I awoke around 8:15 a.m. when my son called and asked if our TV was on. I said no, that I had just awakened. He told me that two planes had been hijacked and had hit two buildings in New York.

Still a little groggy, I thought: “Why is my son playing a joke? It’s my birthday, not April Fool’s Day!” My first words were, “Are you kidding?”

He said, “No, turn your TV on!”

After hanging up, my husband I watched the disaster of the Twin Towers on TV.

Later that morning, before breakfast, we went for our show tickets,but were told that all shows had been cancelled due to the Stratosphere Tower being closed off for security reasons. We were later able to attend the shows that evening.

That day, the highway from Las Vegas through Hoover Dam was closed to all traffic but the following day was re-opened to only passenger vehicles. The traffic was bumper-to-bumper and took a long time.

After arriving home, we saw the evening news and saw the reports of the disaster that so many lives had been affected by.

The Sept. 11 tragedy has affected my life by not only being the day I was born but also the day so many people lost their lives without any fault of their own and so many others have lost loved ones.

Since then, when asked the day of my birthday and I reply, “Sept. 11,” I get a reaction and I say, “Thank God that the four of us drove and weren’t in one of those planes nor did we lose any loved ones.”

Laura C. Ortega

Los Lunas

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.