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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9/11 - Where Were You?

9/11. That day will forever remain in our minds as the day our world changed. Gone was the comfortable feeling of safety here in the United States. Our country had been invaded by sinister fanatics, bent on ripping a hole in the hearts of Americans everywhere.

But, those misguided fools also roused the anger of other nations.

Too many innocent people died that day, from all walks of life, all ages, all religions, and from all countries. And, what was gained by the religious zealots whose only thoughts were to kill? Instead of watching the US crumble and shake from fear, they created a feeling of anger, solidifying our resolve to rid the world of terrorists.

I was living in CA. My husband was on a business trip. My son, then just out of the Marines, was living with us. It was early, but I'd gotten up and turned on the news.

Like many across the world, I watched in horror on TV as planes hit targets in the US. I called my husband in Kansas City. He'd already heard and, since he worked for Sprint, they were frantically trying to make sure phone connections worked. I woke my son, and together we watched the day unfold as over three-thousand lives were lost.

I called my mother in FL. She was very upset. My brother-in-law worked in the Merrill Lynch building that stood near the World Trade Center Twin Towers but was always in and out of the those two buildings. My mother couldn't get through to my sister in NY.

I called my sister and managed to get her. She was frantic. Couldn't reach her husband. Couldn't get anyone, but I somehow managed to contact her. I called my mother back and told her my sister was okay, but we didn't know where my b-i-l was.

I called my daughter in Kansas at work. They hadn't heard and immediately turned on a TV. As an afterthought, I told my daughter, "Happy Birthday" was her 26th birthday.

I called a second daughter in Kansas and talked to her. In between these calls, I kept calling my sister and mother. They couldn't contact each other, but I could.

After 6 long hours, my sister heard from her mother-in-law. My b-i-l had been able to call and said he was okay, walking along a bridge, and would take a train home. I got the message from my sister, called my mother, my husband, and daughters.

I also spoke to my brother, a teacher on Long Island. The schools were dealing with panicked kids and adults. He knew children who lost a parent that day, and others who lost a family member or friend.

My brother worked on the building of the Twin Towers as a summer job while in school. He also couldn't contact my sister but I relayed messages to him.

My brother-in-law hadn't said much about that day. My sister said he'd gotten off the train covered in dust, but didn't seem to realize it. He'd taken her to the site after it happened, and two years later offered to show my husband and me because he said, "You understand."

It was eerie to see what had happened. He told us what he'd been doing, how he and fellow film crew members took some photos and video (some were shown on news channels)...and how he saw people jump from the burning towers. He was eager to tell us, and we were happy to listen and provide an outlet for him.

He showed us the dock area near the Twin Towers where ferries crossed to New Jersey...the Statue of Liberty stood clearly visible in the water. On 9/11, people didn't panic; they tore down barriers so more ferries could dock and take people. Video he showed us clearly shows people helping each other to board, and the calm but distinct shouting of "Women and children first" could be heard. We saw baby strollers being lifted above heads to get them on ferries as mothers carried their babies onboard.

Rather than take a ride to New Jersey, he opted to walk, cross a bridge with others as shown on TV channels, and took a train home.

My husband couldn't get a flight back to CA. He and coworkers considered buying a car and driving, and then decided just to wait. When he could fly home, he had to fly into San Diego instead of Los Angeles. I didn't care. I drove the extra time to get him.

His flight was interesting...eerily quiet for the two planes he needed to board. And, lots of security...which he also had to go through even though he'd had a top security clearance from working at the White House for 7 years.

My daughter didn't celebrate her birthday on 9/11 for a few years, and then we all agreed that she should celebrate her day. Something terrible happened and would always be remembered, but it was still a day for birthdays and anniversaries, and sharing some happy times.

I flew two weeks after we could fly again, and remember how quiet the airports were; how quiet it was during flights...and how everyone stared at each other.

We went to Las Vegas in November 2001, and witnessed the hanging shirts, signs, hats, etc., on the fence surrounding the New York, New York Casino. People suddenly became very quiet while walking outside around this deep thought, remembering what had happened only a couple of months before.

Where were you on 9/11? Everyone has a story...tell us yours.

Always remember...never forget the tragedy and the reason why Freedom Isn't Free. God Bless Our Troops!

All but one photo are ones I took. One is from Flickr: TRiver's photostream.


Amber Skyze said...

I don't think I'll forget any details of that day. I remember driving home from work an the eerie feeling with no planes flying overhead. I worked near the airport so planes were always taking off or landing.
I had family members stuck out of the country for over a week before they were allowed to fly home.
I didn't know anyone who died, but it doesn't matter. My heart goes out to all the families who lost someone that day.
Thanks for sharing your day with us, Marianne.

Suzanne said...

Thanks for sharing your photos and experiences, Marianne! I was already at work (in New Orleans) when the towers were hit. Just as a coworker brought out a little TV and said somthing was going on, I got called to the university president's office (I was his speechwriter). I spent the day in his office, TV in the background, writing a speech for him to give students that afternoon because we had a large proportion of our kids from NYC, and most hadn't been able to get through to family members. So i watched it all from afar. Couldn't have imagined them how much our society would change from it.

Carolyn Matkowsky said...

Excellent post. You really convey the spirit of that day and your family had personal experience. I was at work. I'm on the East Coast. I had gotten to work at 8 am. Some of my co-workers were listening to the radio as they worked. They began hearing about a problem in NY. The buzz started around the office. We got on the Internet and followed the news. The full horror hadn't hit us yet. One of my co-workers who started her shift at 9:30 saw the whole thing live on TV. She came into work, shook up. We all congregated around her while she told us what had happened. No one could work after that. They closed the office at noon. My husband's company let him off early too. We were in shock as everyone was. My son was in college. I called him and woke him up and told him we were under attack. I had business dealings with someone who worked in the Towers and died. I had faxed her something minutes before the plane crashed. I still have the confirmation of my fax.

In December of 2001 my husband and I went to NY for the day and went to Ground Zero. It was very eerie and still held a strange odor. I'll never forget the otherworldly, surreal feeling I had while looking at the hole where the Towers stood and reading all the signs placed around the fence. We flew to Australia around Christmas 2001 and had to fly cross country to LA first. There were armed National Guardsmen and dogs patrolling the airports.

The sadness and shock of that day still resonate.

Carolyn/Cara Marsi

Tina Donahue said...

Absolutely - god bless our troops.

I was at work that day. Having arrived very early, before the attacks happened, I didn't realize anything was going on until one of my coworkers came in and asked if I'd heard about the plane flying into one of the twin towers. I thought she was joking. I went to the internet news and couldn't believe what I was reading.

Then someone else came in saying a second plane had hit the other tower.

It was like the end of the world. So tragic. So scary.

May all the souls who lost their lives that day rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

I had just arrived at a health farm where I was going to stay for three weeks. We'd just put our bags in our room and had gathered in the television room. There it was, on the TV, the planes hitting the buildings. At first I thought it was an action film or something, then realised it was the news and ... well... it was such a shock!!! We couldn't believe our eyes!!!

in Germany

Katalina Leon said...

For several weeks before the attacks I would glance at the clock just as it flipped over to 9/11 and I would feel worried or sick. I know so many others did the same.
I live on the west coast and got an early morning call from a tearful friend to wake up. I had been up all night with a sick infant and had just fallen asleep when the call came. For several minutes I listened to the horror my friend was telling me, hoping I was dreaming or just wrong about what I was hearing...

Marianne Stephens said...

Thanks for your stories. We'll never forget...and we shouldn't.
I saw a 9/11 widow on TV and she asked that this date never be made into a holiday, but kept as a day of remembrance. How right she is.

Jean Hart Stewart said...

None of us will every forget that day. My DH and I were glued to the set here in Cal, knowing our nephew worked at the building. Hid parents couldn't reach him for hours. He'd escaped the building since he was on the third floor, and walked for hours. Finally came to in the afternoon and called his parents. I've been to NY many times and loved those towers.
Even toured them at one time. Some thing none of us will ever forget.

Sandy said...

I'll never forget that day either. I was listening to CNN when they interrupted the programming to tell us what was happening. I spent the rest of the day watching the news and seeing the plane hit the tower. It was shocking, and I was in shock.

Bless our troops for sure, Marianne.

Molly Daniels said...

I was happily composing an email when I realized there was no more music coming from the radio. Suddenly an IM popped up from my BFF: "Plane hit the WTC. Get offline and go turn on the TV."

I hit 'save' and went into the other room, where I was stunned by what I was seeing. I ran back to my office and shut down the internet; at the moment, my mom called and as we were talking, the first tower fell. It just felt so unreal; as if I was watching a Godzilla movie or something. Mom and I ended our conversation soon after the second tower fell, and I was pretty much glued to CBS for several hours until I forced myself to take a break. Mom and I were also speculating on the airplane in Pennsylvania; when details of that incident finally emerged, we praised the bravery of Todd Beamer and the other passengers who fought back.

But my lasting impression was this: How can someone facing death make that choice? Do you jump to your death or do you burn to death? I just can't fathom having to make that choice...even as I watched several people jumping out of windows to avoid the fire.

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