September 11th 2001, I remember

It was starting out to be a nice day. Ethan was 6 months old and had slept in that day so at 9:00 AM I was just contemplating getting out of bed. Ethan had decided that it would be fun to crawl off the edge of the bed so I had to keep a hand on his ankle to keep him from going over head first. Hubby was getting ready to head to campus to teach a little later that morning.

A little after 9:00 AM we went down stairs to get breakfast. As has been my habit since the 2000 election fiasco I turned on Fox News to see what was going on in the world that day. I saw a picture of the north tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) on fire. Shepard Smith, who was on at the time, looked stunned as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing.

I watched as they replayed footage of the first plane hitting the WTC just moments before we had come downstairs. I thought to myself, "People are so bloody stupid! What are these damn fools trying to prove now! Why does any one ever think that killing lots of people will get them what they want!" I had no idea who "they" were at the time and I didn't really care. I was angry at the evil nature of humanity that would make anyone think that crashing planes into buildings was the way to get their message across. Couldn't they just pay off some celebrity to speak for their cause?

Then the second plane crashed into the south tower. Try as he might Shepard Smith couldn't get the "Oh my God" look off of his face but he managed not to stumble over his words. I was impressed that day at how well the reporters held themselves together even as things went from unbelievably bad to much much worse.

I wasn't too worried about my family in the city yet. As far as I knew no one in the family worked at the WTC so they were probably all safe. The phone lines were probably too messed up for me to get a call through anyway. Then as I watched those two towers burn a little voice quietly whispered in my head, "Your best friend works at the WTC." Oh dear God! I frantically tried to remember which tower she worked in. Which floor she was on, it was one of the higher ones wasn't it? I tried to call home.

After a couple of tries I got my mom on the phone. It was her day off and she was home alone. I had to tell her what was going on because all of the stations in the city were off the air. Since I had so much trouble getting that first call in I set her the task of trying to get a hold of my friend and calling her family to make sure that they were okay. I called sis 2 at work and gave her the same task.

I was still mad as hell but that now took a distant back seat to the horrifying thought that I might have lost a friend that morning. Then the news about the Pentagon came. Then the south tower fell. Then the north. All of those people, gone. I thought of my best friend, possibly gone. I thought of her friends and co-workers that she had told me about. I thought about her manager and the family that she told me he had. I thought of all the people that she told me she had been sharing her faith with, going to bible study with. They were all likely gone too.

I started to cry. At some point hubby called to check on me. I told him that my best friend worked in one of those towers. He tried to get me to turn off the TV and stop watching the carnage but I couldn't. I couldn't look away from the death and destruction that was being wrought by the hands of man. Why did God let any of us draw another breath on his green earth when we were capable of such evil? I knew the answer of course, he loved us enough to let us live in spite of ourselves. But it is mind boggling that God could love people even though we are so evil.

A couple of friends from campus were with hubby when he called and between the three of them they decided that they would skip classes and come keep me company until he could come home.

While I was caught up in all of this drama Ethan was happily going about his daily business as if nothing had happened. He had had his breakfast and he was busy tooling around the livingroom playing with toys like he did every morning. I tried to clean the house as I watched TV and waited for phone calls on the fate of my friend.

My friends got to the house around the time the media got the news about the plane that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. By then I had sucked the tears back in. I couldn't let anyone see me cry even if they were there to comfort me. We talked quietly while I continued my attempts to clean the house and they played with Ethan who was still putzing around as if it were any other day of the week. For him it was.

I remember watching scores of policemen, firefighters and emergency workers rushing to the towers, into the belly of the beast, as many more scores of others ran the other way. I watched them run with the others as the towers came crashing down. And I watched as the grim faced survivours regrouped and marched right back into the dark fires of hell ready to risk their lives in search of any who might have survived the carnage. Their actions were the polar opposite of those who had crashed those planes into the WTC and the Pentagon and who had attempted to crash the Shanksville plane somewhere else. Those policemen, firefighters and emergency workers were ready to die so that some might live. The hijackers on the planes were ready to die so others would die.

I finally got a call from my best friend late in the afternoon. She had survived that day because she was running a little late. She was heading through the front doors of the south tower when the north tower was hit. Thankfully she turned around and headed back down the street. She was several blocks away when the south tower was hit. She told me that a voice told her not to turn around but to keep walking away. According to her that decision to keep walking spared her some of the trauma of that day.

Hearing that my friend was alive seemed to break the spell for me. I could finanlly look away from the images on the TV. One of my friends had to return to campus for another class but the other stayed with me. After all of that emotional trauma that day I needed to get out of the house. We decided to walk to the grocery store to get some food. I picked up a six pack of hard cider to celebrate the life of my friend that had been spared. I couldn't believe that such a horrible thing had happened on such a beautiful day. Everywhere everyone was quietly going about their business as if sticking to their everyday routine was the only thing keeping them from falling apart.

Ten days later hubby, Ethan and I went down to NYC for sis 3's birthday. On the way down we stopped to pick up sis 1. We were all wondering what we would have to face trying to get into the city so soon after the terror attacks. That was the easiest time we have ever had getting into the city. I scanned the skyline as we crossed bridges and all I could think of was how wrong it looked. Whole lanes on some bridges had been dedicated to the rescue and recovery vehicles that were now working at ground zero.

As we drove around the city that weekend every police and fire station we passed had a sidewalk memorial dedicated to those they had lost on 9/11/01. I had a hard time holding the tears back that weekend. Every time we passed a police or fire station the tears wanted to begin flowing again. Every dump truck we passed hauling debris had me wondering if it had come from one of the towers. Dad told of how passing a truck carrying metal debris from one of the towers nearly made him cry.

Sis 2 told me of how unnaturally bright it seemed around ground zero despite the cloud of smoke that stubbornly hung on there. An odd smell still lingered in the Village. I really didn't want to know what it was the smell of.

My aunt told me of how my cousin was having nightmares because of what he found down at ground zero as he searched for survivors. He had been on his way to work at Rikers Island on 9/11/01 when he got the call about the WTC attack. He had turned around and headed for lower Manhattan immediately and had been working down there almost non-stop since then.
My best friend told me of the more than 80 friends and co-workers she had lost on that day. In the weeks to come she told me of the emotional burden of going from one funeral to another and of mourning with and for the families that were left behind. I'm tired of crying she said.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001 is a day we should never ever forget. We owe it to those who died and those who survived to remember.

See Instapundit's reflections from that day and his posts for today.
Booker Rising on 9/11
Remembering September 11th,
September 11, 2004
Honor & Remembrance, Bunker Mulligan
A Day of Remembrance: 9-11, Black Informant
America Is Burning, La Shawn Barber


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