Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Today

Today is a day of remembrance.  A day of prayer and contemplation.  The 18th anniversary of one of the most tragic days in our collective lives. 

I used to turn on the TV, first thing in the morning, and listen to it while I got dressed and got ready to take my daughter to catch the school bus and drive myself and cousin P to work, as I used to give her a ride.  But, on that particular morning, on September 11, 2001, I didn't turn on the TV, for some reason or the other.  Most probably, I was running a bit late and hurrying my daughter, as we needed to catch her school bus by 6:25 a.m., and there was no time to listen to the news.

I was already at the office, working on something, when I heard some of my colleagues saying something about New York and a plane crash.  I generally didn't pay much attention to all the background sounds of the office when I was working.  We had an open space office with cubicles that allowed us to see and hear each other; phones were always ringing, people were always talking, either on the phone or over the cubicle walls.  So, I didn't pay too much attention to what they were saying.

Then, my phone rang and it was cousin P.  Her office's head offices were in New York and they had closed due to the attack and the Los Angeles office was also told to close.  Cousin P called to say she was going home and was getting a ride home from one of her colleagues.  I asked her what had happened and she told me it was the World Trade Center that was attacked.

World Trade Center, where one of my second cousins worked as an engineer at the Port Authority. 

We continued to try to work, but, we were in a building in what is known as the Civic Center of downtown, an area where the City Hall, County, State, and Federal office buildings and courts are clustered together.  I was on the 7th floor of a building with 26 floors, but, there were taller buildings all around.  We didn't know if there would be any attacks on the West Coast, as well.  My colleagues were telling those of us who were seated near a window to keep watch for any low flying planes!

A short while later, we got word from our director, telling us that the office was closed for the day and we were to all go home.  I was on my way home when I heard that the towers had collapsed. 

My mother was still alive, then, and she and M were in the garden when I got home.  I turned the TV on and we sat watching it, for a few minutes.  Then, I flew the flag that I normally flew only on the 4th of July and decided to go to the grocery store to stock up on water.  I don't know what made me think of that, except, I remember during the Los Angeles riots in the early 90s, that there were grocery stores being burned and vandalized.  Having enough water on hand seemed to be very important. 

Then, I went to my daughter's school and picked her up early.  She was 8 years old at the time and just started 4th grade.   I told her I came to pick her up early because there had been an attack in New York and she said that there had been an announcement on the PA system about it. 

I sat glued to the TV for the rest of the day.  Everything seemed so unreal.

Several days later, I found out that my second cousin had been one of the lucky ones.  He managed to evacuate the building.  He was photographed by reporter, as he emerged, all covered with dust and debris.  I just wish that everyone else was as lucky.

It's hard to believe it's been 18 years.  Today is a day of remembrance and prayer.

18 comments:

  1. Yes, it is hard to believe it’s been 18 years.

    I remember that day very clearly. I had been in the US for just one month. I had a class at 8 am, and suddenly a professor came and told something to our professor. We students didn’t know what was going on. We were told later that there had been a terrorist attack in New York. I didn’t know the details until I went back to the apartment and turned on the TV. It was absolutely shocking and so heart breaking. Still I find it very hard to watch documentaries about 9/11. All those innocent people in those towers and planes... and the first responders who are still battling with illnesses due to the exposure of dust and debris.... it breaks my heart.

    I’m glad your cousin survived.

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    1. It really was a shocking tragic event, wasn't it? It's one of those days where we all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing, I think.

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  2. I remember that day so well, too. It was such a shock. That must have been such a relief to know that your cousin was safe. I phoned my friend in New York to check on him, and he said that people were jumping out of buildings. Panic. I'll never forget reading that the men who committed the crimes had learned to fly in the US.

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    1. It really was a shock, wasn't it? Our lives really changed that day, one way or another. I just hope that we will never be caught so off-guard, again.

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  3. Every single time I think of it I remember with both mental and emotional clarity the moment we saw it on tv. My FIL's funeral was the day before and Son1 was getting dressed to go to the airport to return to Portland. We had the tv in the den on and were not really paying attention until the first tower was hit. If I remember correctly Son2 was not able to fly home until 5 days later. Meanwhile my dad was stuck in Seattle and got back to Birmingham in about the same amount of time.

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    1. Yes, all flights were grounded, weren't they? Everything came to a standstill that day. Such a horrible day.

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  4. Such a sad day. Those of us all around the world who witnessed the TV coverage will never forget. Thoughts and prayers with those still suffering through sickness or bereavement

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    1. One of the things I remember most about the day was all the sympathy and solidarity shown by so many other countries.

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  5. I don’t like thinking of that day. I had just gotten off the night shift and was not able to sleep that day. I was working in a children’s shelter.

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    1. It is a very sad day to remember, isn't it?

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  6. We will never forget. I remember watching the terrible events unfold on the news. It's hard to believe it's been 18 years.

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    1. It's one of those events we'll always remember, I think.

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  7. A very sad day. I was working and one of the women from another office announced that the plane had hit the first tower. We all thought it was a dreadful accident but it became clear that it wasn't. I left for home as soon as I could and on the drive home heard on the news that the tower had collapsed. Just completely shocked.

    In the UK during the initial shock and confusion people were sent home from the vulnerable buildings in London, including my partner's son. The traffic was so disrupted it took hours for him to get home and with a coincidental failure of his cell phone system he couldn't let us know he was okay. A truly long and dreadful day and we were in no way as directly involved as you and your country.

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    1. I think practically the whole world felt that event and reacted to it. It's amazing how everyone remembers exactly what they were doing that day.

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  8. I remember the shock and disbelief at the sight of the planes hitting the Towers, and the contrast with the peace of a beautiful fall day outside. A vivid image, too, was the sight of firefighters entering the buildings, when others were escaping. It was a sad and terrible day which will never be forgotten.

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    1. I can't imagine what the firefighters felt when they went up those stairs, Bushlady.

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