Originally published September 11, 2011.
It was a beautiful September day, blue sky, white clouds. Got in my car, went to the bank, then headed to the doctor’s office for an appointment.
I didn’t have the radio on in the car.
When I got to the doctor’s office, everyone was talking about it. The World Trade Center had been hit.
Hit? Bombed? No, no..….a plane, and two towers had been hit.
A plane? What?
What? What are you saying? This can’t be…I felt shivers all over my body.
What? The United States? Attacked on her own soil?
A flashing thought – is this what my mother felt like when Pearl Harbor was bombed? This combination of fear, indignation, anger…disbelief? This is the feeling that mobilized the country into World War II?
The receptionist said, you can go home if you want, but the doctor is keeping his appointments. I thought about what to do. I tried to use my cell phone to call my husband, to call my son’s school, there was no dial tone.
The receptionist said the public schools are staying open, keeping the kids in school,. The news is that it is an isolated attack and there isn’t a threat to the country in general. Not to panic. I was sort of numb. There wasn’t anything immediate that I could do.
I was sort of confused and wanted to get home. I stayed for my appointment, it didn’t take long.
I was soon on Route 80 West for the 30 minute drive home.
Surreal. Hardly any other cars on the road.
No planes in the sky. None.
Quiet. The sky was so peaceful. No sound of jets. Is this what the sky looked like in the early 1900’s?
Quiet and blue…
A squad of low-flying fighter jets flew overhead in the New Jersey sky.
I could clearly see the US flags on their tails.
I had never seen that before. It was comforting and frightening at the same time.
Home. My husband came home around the same time. We go to my son’s school. Lots of parents are taking the kids out. The lady in the office says, well, you can take him if you’d like, but the kids are fine, we are trying not to panic them.
We wait a bit, go get pizza down the road, huddle around the TV with a group of people. Our eyes riveted to the towers burning and falling.
It is a nightmare that can’t sink in. My husband proposed to me at Window on the World, ten years earlier. It was gone? Gone?
We pick up my son, tell him it’s time to go home a little early today. What do we say? We watch the TV a bit, but turn it off, as it is horrifying to watch it over and over again. And I don’t want my son to see it. I tell him that some people have bombed New York City, but that we are safe and the US armed forces are taking care of the country now. He is 6; he doesn’t really react to this at all.
My husband and I try to call around, but the phone lines are jammed.
Who do we know that works there? Who is close by? We wait to hear.
I worked in the World Trade Center for six years, it is was now a burning inferno. What?
It was a day I will remember forever. So many flashbulb memories. Here are some.
– The head of Cantor Fitzgerald on TV, praising his people, calling them “spectacular people,” as they got back to work, helping getting the American stock exchange open again, even thought they lost over 600 employees in the carnage.
– The sight in pictures of people jumping out of windows to escape the flames.
– The local firehouse set up to take in donations, and everyone pouring in dumping money & supplies.
– The local stores empty as everyone bought supplies and donated them to the people working down at the wreckage…
–Later, my friends describing how it was to be right there on Wall Street when it happened.
– Looking out their windows and seeing the planes hit the towers. A sea of thick ash everywhere, walking through the ash, walking uptown to get home. Wrapping their heads in wet paper towels, walking, coughing, walking, walking….
– Me and my family standing out on Rt 46 at night holding candles for the cross-country vigil..
– Hearing about the sailors of a German vessel lining up and saluting as they pass an American vessel on the open ocean “we are with you”
– My client, who worked in the WTC, telling me about how he went downstairs to get coffee before a meeting, so was not in the towers when they were hit
– Another client telling me how he was on the first team in to help get the NYSE circuitry and computer infrastructure up and running again
– Grief and disbelief as we learned some of our neighbors died in the towers.
Memories etched forever in my heart and mind.
Feelings of grief that are hard to touch or describe, still too hard to process..it is easier to just list these concrete picture memory pictures.
I wanted to acknowledge the people who were killed and harmed on that day ten years ago, and their families. You are not forgotten.
Please share your memories of that day here, if you’d like.