It is interesting to see the collection of 9-11 remembrances stream by on Facebook. Interestingly, there are far more of them from my Jersey and New York friends and acquaintances than from my Vermont folk. I attribute this to the fact that some of us lived through it firsthand where others outside of the NY/NJ area didn’t have that experience.
It was a beautiful day, much like today. We had a routine, Tom and I, in those days. I would drive the boys to school, they were all in the same building at that time and then meet Tom to grab coffee. We would grab coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts and each depart to our respective offices.
I had the news on that morning and they reported that a plane had struck one tower of the World Trade Center. The reporter made it seem as if it were a small plane and my first thought was how does a pilot miss one of the tallest buildings in Manhattan? The news was sketchy and when we left, we could see the Manhattan skyline from the highway, and the smoke coming from the one tower. Still, we really didn’t have a clue. It wasn’t until I reached my office that the news came pouring in – the second tower, the Pentagon, the plane in Pennsylvania. Tom and I spoke a couple of times on the phone and since I was closer, reluctantly left my office a little before 11 to get the boys from school. Honestly, I felt a big like a hysterical mom but nonetheless, picked them up. Many of the kids had already been picked up so I guess I wasn’t so hysterical after all and my paranoid husband wasn’t quite so paranoid. The plan at the schools was that those children that a parent didn’t come to get by the end of the day would be taken by the police to the designated bomb shelter in town until their parents came for them or other family members could be reached. You see being so close to Manhattan, there was a real fear that many of those kids, like a lot of children around the area, wouldn’t have parents coming to get them because the parents worked in Manhattan and either couldn’t leave because of the complete shut down of everything or they were victims of the attack and would never be coming home.
With the boys safely at home, Tom and our friend and neighbor who carpooled together, eventually made their way back home. If you think people in other parts of the country were confused about what was happening and scared, imagine how we felt. Close enough to see and yet still in the dark about what was happening. It was eerie and surreal. I to this day cannot even fathom what the people who were in Manhattan that day experienced, although I heard plenty of stories from friends in the weeks that followed.
Planes had been ordered on the ground so the normal background noise of air traffic, consisting of the major airports, the local airports and news and traffic helicopters, was gone. Except for the occasional military jet which was loud and invisible to us, it was silent. Scary silent. Everyone was scared, jumping at any noise since we were all on edge. We speculated and grasped at the tiniest bit of information – correct or incorrect. I remember that our church that night was packed like it had never been even on the busiest of religious holidays, there was a prayer service and it seemed like everyone was there.
Everyone posts “Never Forget” and “Always Remember” — it is etched in my mind and on my very soul. It was a scary, scary few days in our area especially when we began to hear the stories of those that we knew who didn’t make it home or ( there but for the grace of God or fate (whichever you believe)), those that would have been in the vicinity of the Twin Towers or in the Towers on that day but for some reason never made it.
My boys were young and most likely don’t remember too much. The world before and the world after are two very different worlds. They remember the confusion, they remember most likely that their parents were scared and we couldn’t answer their questions since we had no idea what was going on ourselves. We could only reassure them the best we could, that they were safe and they we could pray that we were correct.
Exactly one year to the day, on another beautiful day I was driving down the street to pick up the boys from school. I didn’t get more than 50 feet from my driveway when a huge branch from one of the gigantic old trees that graced both sides of the street came crashing through the front windshield of the truck. Given the first anniversary of September 11th, and everyone’s general uneasiness of what may or may not happen, I was quite shaken. But for the existence of the steering wheel, I would have been speared like a fish. Glass was everywhere. I had a bunch of tiny cuts but thankfully the boys weren’t in the truck since the force of the impact filled the back seat with hundreds of little shards of glass. They would have been hurt and since they didn’t wear glasses like I did, could have even had their eyesight damaged.
So, yes in my book 9-11 is difficult to forget for many reasons but they pale in comparison to the loss and tragedy suffered by so many others.
On this anniversary like each one before and each that will follow, a prayer goes out to all those who weren’t as lucky as we were. May they have some comfort in knowing that their grief is shared by an entire nation.