Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th, 2008

Today is September 11th - which is still a very sad and solemn day here in New York City. There will be the annual tribute in light (pictured above) - along with the four moments of silence, the reading of all the names at Ground Zero, and plenty of tears. I listen to those same names every year - and every year they make me cry.

Last year, very early in the history of this blog, I did two 9/11-themed posts. One recounted my personal experience on that day (read it HERE), and the other was a remembrance of a smiling firefighter I used to see hanging outside his firehouse (read it HERE). Please take a moment to read them if you can - and feel free to leave comments on this post about YOUR experiences on that horrible day.


Renee said...

David, thank you for sharing your 9/11 story.

I didn't personally know anyone who died on 9/11. My local blood center held a blood drive in honor of the fallen FDNY and NYPD heroes in September 2002. Everyone received a 9/11 pin with a ribbon attached. Each ribbon bore the name of a firefighter or police officer. I received the one for John Tierney.

John was a firefighter with Ladder 9 in Manhattan. He had been a probationary firefighter for only six weeks before 9/11. John was 27 years old when he died. His remains were found beneath 80 feet of WTC rubble on February 5, 2002. John was laid to rest on February 9, 2002.

I took a photo of the ribbon. You can see it here: Some Gave All

It breaks my heart every time I see it. Rest in peace, John.

I visited Ground Zero in 2004. The city was full of life and constant sound. As soon as we reached Ground Zero all the noise and activity faded away; it was very quiet and haunting.

Renee said...

I forgot to include my personal experience. I was working third shift at the time and went to get my hair cut after work. I remember walking out to the reception area to pay and hearing the woman behind the desk screaming into the phone "they flew planes into the World Trade Center?!?!" I can still hear her voice in my head today.

Beth said...

thanks for sharing that Tranny....what a sad day all around, I remember, my husband and I had gone to the park to walk, and on the way home, we had the radio on....and they said something about the world trade center, but we really didn't know much more than that. as soon as we got home, we turmed the tv on and watched the whole thing unfold....and it was tragic. All I remember was wanting to go to the school and get my kids and bring them home....and that it was Rae's senior year and what would happen?...were we being attacked? would other things happen?

I always watch the tributes on this day, tho it is so hard to do. It's the least we can do to pay our respects, ya knpw?

I'm so glad that you were safe that day.

Dagny said...

I will never forget where I was when the Towers went down. I was in Virginia supposedly leaving town from the second of family funerals in less than a month. (That was the last time that my heart felt as ripped up as it has this current summer. Two close relatives dead, my dad recovering from a heart attack.) My return flight to Cali was out of National in DC. I was just getting in the rental car to drive to DC when my mom pulled up in front of my aunt's house to tell me about the explosion -- at the time they weren't reporting plane crashes. We went back into the house and turned on the TV. Only to see the second tower go down. And thinking about the relatives who were on the road back to NYC with no idea that they would not be able to get back into the City. And then I instantly called the folks I knew on the West Coast to let them know that I was OK.

I remember that it was a Tuesday. I wasn't able to get a flight out until that Friday. There were free cocktails and movies on the flight. It was the quickest flight I have ever been on. And I wanted to kiss the ground when the plane landed in San Francisco.

I didn't know anyone personally who died that day but I know plenty of folks who lost friends and loved ones that day. My heart goes out to them.

The thing that will stay with me though is the moment I was making my reservations for the trip. When the options came up for my return, my mother suggested one flight. I argued that it was too early in the morning. That flight was 77 -- the one that flew into the Pentagon. And every day since then, all I can think is that if I had followed what my mother suggested, I wouldn't be here today.

JenM said...

I was in Queens that day and watched the towers collapse. I too could not grasp the idea that people were dying. It was very surreal. I think I was in shock. I no longer live in the NYC area and am saddened by the lack of recognition this solemn day is/isnt given.

Howard said...

I was living in Vermont at the time, working. I was at the office, and got an email from another person in the office about something going on in NYC. She grew up in NYC, and I lived there for 10 years. We often spoke of clubs we went to, of people we knew.

She wrote me in a panic. I went to her office, where we listened to an online radio broadcast in stunned silence.

When I lived in NY, I did many jobs. One was working on corporate promotions. One of those was a real estate promo for 2 World Financial Center. It wasn't hit,but it was close by. I stood there listening to the radio, stunned thinking I could have been there, in that area, doing some stupid corporate rah-rah crap. I had friends who still do that.

Erica and I were silent, stunned and confused. Neither of us knew what to say, to do or how to react. When the 2nd plane hit, we just held one another. It wasn't long before we saw pictures online, followed by video. Time moved so very slowly, wrought with panic, confusion, and questions.

It was some time before we could move or let go of one another. Erica called her family, and I tried to email some NY friends. It wasn't until then that I realized we were both in shock. I was living in NYC when the Trade Centers were bombed in 1993.

Needless to say, no work was getting done that day. The office was close and people were told they could go home. Erica & I did not leave at first, wanting to know what went on.

It was many years before I returned to NYC. It was so strange not to see the towers, even if I knew full well what had happened. I didn't [and still haven't] gone to Ground Zero, when I returned.

Tivo Mom said...

I was home from my banking job in Charlotte, NC on maternity leave with a three week old infant. I remembered the same thought went through my head all day; what was I bringing my son into. I probably cried for two weeks (hormones are hell) but I was very uplifted by the way that people pulled together at such a horrible time. Thanks for doing this. Sometimes it is hard to go back but I think we need to.

Gerry said...

Well David, I checked in with your blog specifically today because of the date and because you’re the only real New Yorker I know. Reading your previous 9/11 memory made me cry, just like most personal stories about that day still do and probably always will. I of course remember exactly what I was doing that day, just like everyone else; this day is, after all, our generation’s “where we you when Kennedy was shot.” However, I think all will agree that this particular galvanizing moment is far more powerful, both in the U.S. and all over the world, than the death of JFK ever could be.

I too distinctly remember what a beautiful day it was in Pittsburgh (where I lived/worked at the time), just like it was throughout most of the country. I was just arriving at a deposition at a hospital in Greensburg, PA when I heard the initial news on my local pop station. It almost seemed like a joke when the DJ said a plane had hit the WTC and they reported at that time the thought that some private plane pilot had made a huge navigational error. I remember I was running late for the 9am deposition and shut the car and radio off right after hearing that news. We all talked about the news that was coming through at the time and were more amused than alarmed at first. Since the doctor to be deposed (my client) still had not arrived at the deposition, we all watched the tv coverage for a while. It didn’t take long til the real truth came across: we were under attack and there was no telling what was going to happen next. We tried to go through with the deposition but our hearts and minds weren’t in it. I remember plaintiff’s counsel being extremely distracted because his brother was a waiter/actor in NYC and he had tried to call him but couldn’t get through.

About 45 minutes into the deposition, the hospital’s risk manager came busting into the room and told us all we had leave right now. There was news of an explosion of some sort, thought to be another plane gone down, near Somerset and all the hospitals in the area were being put on alert. Greensburg is 45 minutes from Pittsburgh but also about 30 minutes from Somerset County, where Flight 93 went down. The hospital we were in was the closest major health facility near the alleged crash site, so they were scrambling to prepare themselves and therefore we had to leave NOW. It was extremely disconcerting to be booted out like that, especially considering that by now, we were all pretty panicked about the seemingly wide scale attack on the U.S. that was taking place. I remember the court reporter was near tears about the prospect of driving home alone, since we didn’t know what would be ‘hit’ next or whether there was a full scale war going on outside.

Driving home on the PA turnpike, I tried to call anyone and everyone. No one answered at work or at any of my friends’ work. I also couldn’t get a hold of my family in Stamford, CT (my dad and brother) or NYC (David), as all lines were jammed. I remember being particularly concerned because my dad worked in NYC and across the river in NJ, and actually changed trains every day at the WTC station. Fortunately, he missed the crashes by minutes; unfortunately, he was able to watch the events (including people jumping from the towers and the fall of the buildings) from the NJ office that morning. I know it still haunts him to this day.

I remember I just stayed on the turnpike and drove for a while that morning – almost to the Ohio border, in fact - because for some reason, that’s what the news was saying to do if you were heading toward any major city. I remember passing downtown Pittsburgh and seeing what a ghost town it had become by 11am on a work day. I then remember going home and watching CNN for the rest of the day and night, rarely leaving my couch and spending that whole day (and most of the week) in a somewhat catatonic, numb state. I also remember being very thankful that all of my friends and family were safe.

What I think about now is how profoundly the world has changed and most importantly, how my daughter will never know a pre-9/11 world. She will never know that airline travel used to be a joy, relatively inexpensive and simple; she will never be without the constant reminder that terrorism could be around any corner; she will never have the (false) sense of security that we all grew up with that, although we knew not everyone was “friends” with the U.S., we were blissfully unaware that there existed in the world this absurdly extreme level of anger and hatred toward our country. A level of fury and resentment so high that these hateful people were willing to give their own lives to kill our citizens. It deeply saddens me but who knows? Perhaps her generation will be the one that helps generate significantly greater levels of peace and harmony between our nations. We can only hope…

David Dust said...

Dear All -

Thank you for sharing. I am fascinated by these stories - how we all had a different experience caused by the same event.

Please continue sharing...


P.S. - Gerry, thanks for commenting. Love and Hugs to you and Kenzie.

theminx said...

I was at work and I overheard two officemates discussing something about a plane and the WTC. I immediately checked and was able to get through - they didn't really have any info yet, but I knew in my heart it was terrorism and not an accident. Someone brought in a TV from the AV department and we gathered around to watch the news. We saw the second plane hit, live, and both towers fall. It was heart-wrenching.

What scared us most though was the plane that hit the Pentagon, as Baltimore is pretty darn close.

They closed school and sent us home. I remember being rather terrified to wait for public transportation, so a friend drove me home. My husband worked for T Rowe Price at the time and those bastards wouldn't let him leave early, so I was in a panic for the rest of the afternoon, waiting for him to get home.

I'm tearing up just thinking about it...such a horrible thing. I visited Ground Zero several months later and remembered how my brother and I once stood on the top....

alnhouston said...

As I read each persons entry it strikes me how each of our lives were changed that day. Whatever our experience, it impacted each of us for life, but I have to wonder why the hell haven't those responsible for this horrific terrorist act been brought to justice? Is anyone else pissed off? The people who died, their families and for that matter all of us deserve better. I apologize if this is not an appropriate time or place, but reading each of your entries, just makes my heart hurt each of us and for our country. Peace for us all.

Lorraine said...

David, I just read your first person account. Thank you for sharing it. That was a horrible day for all of us. I didn't personally know anyone who was lost but have a friend who lost a relative at the Pentagon, one who knew someone on one of the flights and my sister-in-law had a friend at WTC. We are all more closely connected than we realize, until something like 9/11 happens.

I most remember the beautiful day (so weird that it was beautiful all over the country...when does that ever happen?) and the complete disconnect between the gorgeous morning outside and the completely surreal things we were seeing on television. (We got a call early from a friend who said only, "Turn on your TV. Now!")

And I remember trying to explain things to my then 6 year old, looking for words that could even begin to express the magnitude of what was happening without completely freaking her out, even as I felt like everything inside me was collapsing.

And I'll never forget being out on our deck in the evening, gathered with a bunch of neighbors. We ordered pizza delivered from a local joint and the guy who delivered it was Middle Eastern. There was this thing that passed between us as I paid for the pie...his eyes full of hurt and humiliation, as if he was trying to tell me they weren't all like that, and me full of hurt and an odd compassion, trying to tell him I knew. Then, as we were eating, there was the sound of airplanes, ripping the absolute silence of the day. I remember looking up in alarm and a neighbor saying in response, "Those are ours" and how weird it felt, on top of all the bafflement and sorrow of the day, to think that I was actually living through a situation that warranted air cover.

shirlsd said...

thanks for sharing your experience.

for me, i was living in san diego and to make a long story short, i remember getting a call from a friend back east who gave me the heads up about the 1st tower. and the rest of the morning was a blur. by the time the 2nd tower was hit - i was stunned, speechless, shocked, angry, sad, crying on/off ... and when the towers went down, i literally felt sick among many other emotions i can't readily explain.

one other note is that i have a very good friend who lived in nyc at the time (and she now is back in california) and was headed to work (wall street area) that morning. to this day (and i just called her this eve to check-in on her), she continues to avoid any recaps, accounts, documentaries, etc. about the events. she is angry, sad, ...

i should say, admittedly, that i had typed much, much more detail for my comment here on your blog, however, as i was typing the "longer" version out, i started crying and am tearing on/off. that said, honestly, thanks for extending this opportunity to just let us share.

be well. and thanks for everyone else who has shared their thoughts and experience.

Joy said...

I was teaching my class when the principal made the announcement over the intercom that he had bad news. I can't recall his exact words, but there had been school shootings by that time. We all thought the principal was going to tell us someone had shot students when he began and listened in fear and panic.

Then he said that the WTC had been attacked by terrorists. He told about the planes and said other things I can't remember. We all looked at each other in shock and disbelief.

After his announcement, the kids looked at me waiting for me to say something. I have no idea what I said to them, but my concern was helping them deal with their emotions and to let them talk about it. We couldn't make sense of what had happened. Our country had been attacked. What happens next? What do we do?

I didn't have a TV, radio, or computer in my classroom then, so we couldn't keep up with the news. All day, kids would come in my room from other classes where they had watched the news, and we'd discuss the updates. No English was taught that day, but we had productive discussions.

I had them write about it the next day because that's what English teachers do.

This was a time when most of the world reached out to us and was sympathetic. Our citizens were united like they hadn't been in a long time. We wanted to do something to help, to appreciate each other, and to feel like a family. It put our lives in perspective and let us know what is important. What an opportunity that was mishandled. We Americans are generally generous and want to help each other.

Berry Blog said...

Thanks David..I hve noticed that most of the coverage this year is by gay guys and not many of the channels except in the news.
I was between classes when tv was interrupted and we watched in horror as the second plane crashed into the building. I called the office to suggest there might be an intervention by an admin or guidance counselor before teachers turned on tvs everywhere- but no, they just let it happen. It wasn't as frantic as the day I was teaching when Kennedy was shot. this time the kids weren't in panic and just sat quietly. that alone unnerved me- was it just another tv shoot'em up to this generation?

Mark in DE said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. Reading it made it all feel so recent, and gave me chills.

I lived about 3 miles from the Pentagon. When Spouse rushed in the door (he'd turned around and came home when he heard the radio reports) and announced "A plane hit the World Trade Center and another one just hit the Pentagon" I was sure he was teasing me.

We watched the news coverage in absolute horror.

Then the phone calls started. Spouse's brother, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and my aunt all worked in the city and had no way out except on foot. Each called from their cell phones and we agreed I would pick them up at the foot of the bridge connecting Georgetown with Rosslyn. (All traffic had been stopped by police in and out of the city and the metro was working but overflowing with evacuees.) Spouse stayed home to man the phone.

As I drove from our house to Rosslyn I kept getting stopped by roadblocks. I remember cutting through parking lots and driving over a median to get where I needed to go.

Fortunately our family members were all okay and I was able to shuttle them to our house. But I cry for those inside the bldgs who never had a chance.


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