Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

I feel fortunate. Fortunate that my husband hadn't left for work that day. Fortunate that he didn't even work downtown. Fortunate that my father wasn't at the pentagon that day. Fortunate that no one I knew was hurt.

On 9/11/2001 I was pregnant. I lived in north Jersey and my husband worked in NYC. He was getting ready to take the bus into the city. We had the TV on and were watching the news when we saw a plane crash into the tower. We didn't think much of it. Surely it was an accident. My husband left for work and started to walk to the bus stop. A neighbor told him that all the tunnels were closed and he came back.

We continued watching the news and saw the other plane hit the tower and knew it was no accident. When the tower collapsed, we lost our TV signal. That was our local antenna on top. It took a few hours for us to find out what was going on.

My parents live in Virginia, a few miles from the pentagon. My father often has government contracts and has visited the pentagon in the past.

My parents were afraid of my husband being in the city in that morning and we worried about my parents too. I do feel fortunate that my family is safe.

That night my house filled with smoke. The smoke stayed for a week.

There were military personnel with guns at tunnels and bridges. It felt like a war zone.

My town was a NYC commuter town. Lots of people never came back that day. So many funerals. There were cars that never left the commuter parking lots. They marked the tires with chalk. One line for each day they didn't return. No one wanted to tow them. No one wanted to give up hope.

It didn't take long for Missing Posters to go up. So many people went missing on 9/11. Lots of people were searing for someone who never came home that day. No one wanted to give up hope.

It also didn't take long for the cars that had chalk lines on the tires to also have flowers placed on the windshields. And flowers were placed on the fences along the sidewalks by route 3, the main road into NYC.

Everyone knew someone who was gone. Everyone knew someone who didn't come back that day.

New Yorkers (and East Coast people) get a bad reputation around Seattle for being rude and uncaring, but they do look out for each other. There is an inexplicable bond. Almost a kinship. Lots of New Yorkers came to help during that time.

Those armed military personnel became comforting. They stayed there for a very long time. By Christmas we were waving to them as we passed by. We were glad they were there. They had become a part of our town.

I no longer live near NYC. I'm near Seattle now. Things are different here. No one talks about which neighbor didn't come back on 9/11. No one talks about the client who worked in the tower and never made it to the meeting. Or their favorite restaurant that used to be a block away from the towers. Or how they moved to the suburbs because they were forced to move out their apartment after 9/11 when the section of the city they lived in was closed for months. There are no newspaper clippings hanging up at the local pizza place with pictures of the towers burnings because of the quote underneath from the fireman was the owner's nephew.

Things are not the same here.


Joyce-Anne said...

I remember too well. Living on Long Island, we all knew people that never came home too. Unfortunately, I am one of those people that knew at least one person who didn't come home.

The Mayor was born 5 weeks earlier. I watched the news shocked that it could happen here in the U.S. Today, families are gathered at "Ground Zero" for memorial services and while listening to the events on the news, I still feel chills and get a lump in my throat.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh Cookie, I can only imagine how much tougher it was to live near where 9/11 happened. I was truly amazed at how the NYC (and area) people took care of each other. Strange what we may think about people--but there are so many wonderful people in this world.

God Bless those who loves loved ones on 9/11 and God Bless the USA.

a corgi said...

((((hugs to you))) you experienced 9/11 first hand except, thanking God, you family was spared that tragedy but you saw the tragedy played out all around you and it impacted you in ways we who were miles away could never understand. thank you for sharing your thoughts about it; I'm glad things turned out the way it did for you and your family and all were/are okay


Lynn said...

I noticed that even in Atlanta - far from the tragedy - people were nicer to each other. I remember almost honking my car in traffic and then changing my mind - it must didn't seem kind to do that when everyone's nerves were frayed as they were.

My brother-in-law worked in the Pentagon then, but wasn't there just then. My niece worked in a building at the back gate of the White House and was escorted to the street by a SWAT officer clearing buildings. She had to walk miles and miles home without knowing if her dad was OK. What a relief for us to find that they were both safe. And so sad and sorry for the families of those who were not.

Talon said...

Thank you for sharing, Cookie. I can't imagine what it would have been like to be so close to that area...

I wish sometimes that it didn't take such horrific events to bring the best out in people, to remind people we love how much we truly love them, to be kind and patient with strangers, but I'm glad that when an unspeakable event happens it has that exact effect.

WhiteSockGirl said...

Thanks for sharing.

I can't not even begin to imagine what you and your fellow country men and women had gone through during that time.

Mama Zen said...

I can't imagine what it was like to be so close.

Anonymous said...


p-huong said...

I live all the way in California and every time I hear 9/11, my memory shoots back to that morning while I was watching the news and what was discussed during my first period English class. I can't imagine how deep the memories go for people who had a closer connection to that day. I'm glad your family was safe that morning.

imbeingheldhostage said...

This was a totally new perspective for me, thanks for writing this very poignant post.

Cookie said...

Thanks for your comments. It was difficult for me to write this. In fact this is the only time I've written about it in 8 years and I rarely speak about it. As Jaoyce-Anne pointed out, I'm not one who lost someone directly. So i'm different than those who were around me that day. But I was close and a part of it and it still affected me. My husband didn't go to work for a week. He coudln't. There was no way into his NYC office.
This year was the first time either of us could watch any of the things on TV about it.
It was and still is a tragic loss.

Snaggle Tooth said...

Sorry I didn't get here to read your 911 post sooner- Thanks for telling your story.

Thank your lucky stars- you're blessed your family was all safe!
Nothing is the same, how could it ever be?