Remembering 9/11 · September 10, 2011

A few years before 9/11/2001, I took my mother to New York to see a show.  We stayed in the Marriott at the World Trade Center.  My mother told me then how she remembered vividly the bombing in the parking garage of the North Tower a few years before that (the unsuccessful attempt to knock the North Tower into the South Tower).  We’d walk out of the hotel in the morning, stand right close between the two towers and stare straight up.  They were so tall that we got this sickening feeling and felt like we were falling backwards.

I don’t remember how I first became aware of the planes hitting the WTC towers, whether it was someone calling me to turn on the news or if I had turned it on myself that morning.  I was still home getting ready for work, and living nowhere near any of the attacks.  I remember feeling thankful for that, and then feeling guilty for feeling thankful.  It seemed at the time to be very surreal, like it was larger than life and couldn’t really be happening.

I had work friends in NYC that called me and were talking to me about what was going on.  Their office could see some of what was happening.  One of those friends had worked previously in the WTC and counted himself lucky to have changed jobs.  I had a friend call me from DC and tell me about the Pentagon.

Later in the day when the towers fell, that’s when it really hit home for me.  There was no more “they’ll get in there soon and rescue those people” or “maybe this won’t end horribly”.  I remember seeing people jumping from the windows of the towers, way too high up to survive, and the rolling clouds of rubble that engulfed Manhattan for blocks.  I kept asking myself “how can these newscasters remain so calm and commentate on such horrifying tragedy”?

I don’t recall hearing much about the flight that went down in Pennsylvania much that day, but more in the days after.  When they stopped commercial air flights, I looked up at the sky and it seemed eerily empty and calm.  I remember the armed military presence at the airport security checkpoints, the end of non-ticketed people at the gates, and the random inspections that seemed all too frequent for awhile.

I don’t know anyone personally who was lost on 9/11/2001, but that was a day when I learned a lot about the world in which we now live.  It was a kind of innocence lost.  10 years later our lives have a new meaning of “normal” in many respects, and we still pursue those remaining that we hold responsible for that loss of innocence.  I will never forget the feeling of that day, those who lost their lives, or those who fought and continue to fight to protect our lives and our freedom.

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