Saturday, September 11, 2010

NEVER Forget

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

When I was in high school, one of my teachers said that her life was divided into "Before the Beatles" and " After the Beatles".  I think about that sometimes.  That sounds so...sweet, simple.  Now our lives are divided into "Before 9/11" and "After 9/11".

I remember how blue the sky was on September 10, 2001.  The air was just starting to turn that nice fall crisp.  Jason and I had just bought a new car and after dinner on September 10, 2001, we took it out for a ride and talked about how lucky we were: we had a beautiful toddler (A) and I was two months pregnant with P.  Jason had a good job, we had bought a house that we thought was charming.  We felt like life was great and we could not imagine anything changing that.  And yet fourteen hours later...

The morning of September 11, 2001, A watched "Clifford the Big Red Dog" on PBS and I got ready to take her to 9am Storytime at the bookstore.  Just as I got her strapped into her carseat, I heard the phone ring inside the house, but I didn't want to leave her alone in the car, so I didn't answer it.

I drove to the bookstore, and as A played with the stuffed animals, I waited for the storyteller.  I kept checking my watch.  I didn't know why she wasn't starting.  Other moms milled around.

Finally, the storyteller came over and asked if we wanted her to read.  We were all confused and she realized that we didn't know what had happened.  She explained.  

We scattered.

I was supposed to meet my mother for lunch and I tried calling her, but you could not get a phone connection.  There was actually a strange message about a National Emergency on the phone lines.

Just as I was beginning to panic, someone rushed into the bookstore and started screaming that a plane had crashed in Somerset County (we did not know it was Somerset County, PA) and my parents live in Somerset County, NJ.

I thought about going home.  But decided to face whatever was coming and I headed for my parents' house in Somerset County, NJ.  I stopped at my brother's work and walked around his office sobbing and hugging random strangers that he worked with, who I did not know.  My brother decided to leave work and drive to my parents' house with me.

We got to my parents' house and they had set up a TV in the kitchen, just as they had done during the first attack on The World Trade Center in 1993.  

We live less than 50 miles from Ground Zero.

I had friends in the Towers who made it out.
And some who did not.
A very good friend of mine watched from their office building as the second plane hit.
I know women whose husbands were in the Towers but could not call them to say that they were okay. 
I talked to people who walked through the city to the ferries, because the trains did not run.  They told of a camaraderie, hugging strangers, carrying those who could not walk anymore, urging each other on.

Our firefighters and policemen died "just doin' what they do".
We saw just how strong the American spirit is.
I remember my father's TV hero from NYPD Blue saying, "It has always been an honor to portray a NYC policeman on TV, now it is a privilege."

The NJ Turnpike was shut down so that the heavy machinery (which was donated by people who volunteered their time) could make it in to Lower Manhattan.
I have friends who stood in the street for days holding "Thank you" signs.

I, like many Americans, was glued to CNN.

I remember the sky being gray for days.

I remember scouring the lists of names for friends.

I remember giving in to tears.

I remember holding hands and hugging strangers in church.

I remember having Lisa Behmer speak to our MOMS Club about hearing her hero husband say, "Let's Roll."  Ordinary people became heroes.  The American spirit is resilient.

I remember flying an American flag on our front porch; plastering American flag decals on my car and a "Let's Roll" bumper sticker.

Now my husband has the honor and privilege of working on the WTC Memorial project.  He is honored.  We feel so grateful for this opportunity to give back.
Land of the Free
Home of the Brave