8 Years

Friday, September 11, 2009

8 years? Really? Some days it feels like 9/11 happened eons ago. Some days it feels like yesterday. A moment in time that forever changed history. My history. Your history. Our history as a country.

On September 11, 2001 I dropped my son off at daycare. He had turned 3 the month before. I hopped on the highway to head to work. I turned on my usual morning drive radio station. The conversation was fast, frenzied and calm all at the same time. It took 10 minutes to drive to work. I remember looking at other drivers on the road, their faces were distraught. I couldn't understand what the Dee Jay's were saying. They didn't even understand what was happening.

A plane had flown into the North Tower of The World Trade Center. I was able to gather that part. I didn't understand why, when? What the hell was going on? It felt like a dream, a stunt, make believe. I pictured my then three year old building blocks as high as he could and knocking them down with a toy plane. Had that really happened? In real life? You have got to be fucking kidding me!

I worked at The American Red Cross at the time. When I got to my desk, I still wasn't sure what was happening. My co-workers and I went online for details. Everything was sketchy. This was around 9 am. We pulled a TV into the conference room and turned on the news.

The video, the image, the plane circling, then flying into the Tower. INTO THE FUCKING TOWER! I don't remember who started crying first. Before long, we all were. Who in the hell? Why in the hell? I remember thinking the world was coming to an end. All I wanted was to pick up my son from daycare, hide in a closet, hold him tight and cry.

We continued watching the news as reports came in about a hijacked plane in Pennsylvania. The plane flying into The Pentagon. A second plane destroying The South Tower.

I ran to my desk and called my then husband who worked in downtown Washington DC close to The Pentagon. It was busy. The phone never rang. I thought I would lose my mind if I heard, "All circuits are busy" one more damn time! I tried my mom who also works in DC. Busy, no answer. I didn't know what to do. I called my son's daycare, they were on Lock down, all the kids were fine.

I stayed at work, I was scared to leave. I couldn't stand still. My heart was racing. I was sweating. I was crying. I was terrified. I kept making my way back to that TV and watching the footage. New Yorkers running for their lives to escape the glass, debris and dust from the collapsing towers. Trapped in those buildings, begging for help. Jumping from windows to their death to avoid dying from smoke inhalation or the building falling to pieces on top of them. I will never forget that image. Men and women screaming for help. Having no choice. Fear taking over and suicide the only answer.

I had images in my mind of the people on the plane, looking out the window, seeing their plane heading directly into The Towers and The Pentagon. The hijacked plane taken over and diverted in Pennsylvania. The bravery of Todd Beamer and the other passengers on Flight 93. I was tortured for years about what they must have been thinking. What it was like to know you were going to die in a most horrific way.

My then husband and mom were safe. My former Sister-in-Law who works at the Pentagon in the wing that was hit was not there that day. I know so many people who woke up late, missed their train or bus, called out sick and were spared. Those stories gave me hope in the midst of sadness.

As the years pass, some details begin to fade. Regardless of conspiracy theories (I have a few), so many "facts" that don't add up, what Bush knew and did or didn't do...the truth remains. Thousands of people lost their lives.

On the Anniversary of September 11th, this year and every year, I remember the victims and their families. I'm eternally grateful to the hundreds of rescue and recovery workers who risked their own lives to save another. I remember American's coming together in a way I had never seen before in my lifetime. All other issues put aside, we united in our grief.

I don't want to remember but I can never forget.



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