Today, we at Twitarded are taking a hiatus from our usual shenanigans to remember and mourn all those who had their lives viciously taken from them in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
It sounds trite, but 9/11/01 seems like yesterday. I can't possibly look back on that day without seeing it from a mother's perspective. My son was three weeks and one day old. When I got out of bed that morning, my biggest fear was that I'd never have time to shower again. Within hours, the entire world changed.
Thousands of people so similar to myself needlessly perished that day. The only thing separating me from them was a simple matter of being in a different place at a different time. So many people were deprived of the opportunity to see their children grow up. I can never forget watching the non-stop coverage and waiting by the phone for news from friends and loved ones in the following days. I won't ever forget going through all the cordless phone handsets as their batteries died because I was afraid to hang up with my husband. His building was on lock down and they weren't cleared to leave until sometime that evening.
I remember listening to the 911 calls and seeing the emergency personnel rush into the burning towers, knowing they were unlikely to return alive. I remember seeing Pentagon employees running from the building, throwing their shoes and ID badges aside because they feared a sniper was in the area. I listened to the phone calls from United 93 and wondered how I was ever going to explain all of this to my child. I've had ten years and I still have no explanation, though I think of it nearly every day.
I hope no one ever forgets. It's the least we can do to honor the victims and those who mourn them.
"Someone crashed an airplane into the twin towers," my mother told me over the phone, alarm in her voice.
"What kind of jackass would do that?" I replied, incredulous and baffled. I imagined some newly licensed pilot in a little bi-plane and thought, what a horribly dumb accident. Then the news reports starting trickling in and that dumb accident turned into a tragic, terrible accident. I didn't want to think it was anything else but that - an accident. But it wasn't until the second plane hit the South tower and the news that there were more planes involved did I realize it wasn't an accident at all.
We were sent home shortly after to be with our families and as I drove home, I listened to Howard Stern (my go-to for everything back then) as he choked up and nearly sobbed, dirty jokes and irreverent humor long forgotten in the wake of a rapidly unfolding tragedy. Later, as I stood in my parent's front yard and watched military planes from McGuire Air Force Base fly over, I tried to wrap my head around the utter devastation and enormity of the situation.
Sometimes, I think I'm still trying. I try to imagine the people who lost their lives, what they were thinking when they clasped hands with co-workers to jump out windows, making that one last brave and terrible choice. Or the families left behind, who said goodbye to their loved ones that day without ever thinking that they wouldn't be coming back. All the brave rescue workers who rushed into the wake of the attack, determined to save lives and losing their own instead. On United 93, how ordinary people defied the unimaginable inhumanity they faced and decided to fight rather than to submit meekly to their fate.
We can't forget them. Not any of them. And we can't forget all those who joined together during the aftermath - the rescue workers and ordinary citizens who donated blood, resources and money, who took leave from their own jobs and lives and traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles to help New York City and Washington D.C. rebuild.
The city is different now. It still moves and hustles and produces and acts the same way it did before the attacks. It's still beautiful and chaotic, messy and fun. It's really the occasional conversation that brings it back. "Before 9/11..." "Remember Sarah, who used to work in Corporate? The one who quit to work in the North Tower a couple months before 9/11? Yeah, well she used to say..."
Post-9/11 is the city I know best. The skyline, without those two towers jutting into the sky, is the one I'm most familiar with, the one I see nearly every day when I go to work. Sometimes, I have to really think to remember exactly where those towers belonged in that skyline.
But I will never forget they did.
I was faced with a deadline the morning of September 11th... the newspapers were waiting for their ads and I couldn't find anyone in my office who was supposed to be working on them. I was fuming... I was at my deadline. I had no idea what was happening at 8:46am, and every day I regret my attitude that morning. I regret that I was tapping my foot, arms crossed, waiting for my stupid newspaper ads to be done. What was wrong with me?
When I found my coworkers, they were crowded around a small black and white, rabbit-eared television. I joined the huddle just as the second plane hit. And I was hit with the severity of the situation -- my ads long forgotten. A coworker rushed out of the room in a panic. His dad lived across the street from the World Trade Center. He was frantic as he tried to get a hold of him. We just stared at the screen, trying to make sense of this event that was taking place before our eyes.
I do remember it like it was yesterday. I remember watching hours of television footage and sobbing. I remember worrying about my (future) mother-in-law -- she both lived and worked in Manhattan (she was not in the general area jsyk). I remember worrying about what was next. I remember the heroic acts of those who sprang into immediate action. And in the following weeks, I remember a sense of community that I had never felt before. I remember the amazing display of patriotism with the way America came together in the face of darkness. I remember standing out on my porch with a candle along with everyone else in my neighborhood -- a sign of solidarity -- we would not give up.
Personally, the attacks on September 11th didn't affect me. I didn't know anyone who perished in these attacks, but like everyone else not in the immediate areas where any of the three tragedies occurred, I felt great sadness for the victims and their families. And I felt angry.
I will never forget.
Our thoughts are with everyone who was touched by this tragic day.