A Sunday Drive…Down A Memory Lane Most Significant: Remembering 9/11/01
There was just no way that I could take A Sunday Drive Down Memory Lane today as if it were any other Sunday.
It’s a Sunday like no other, and everything else needs to take a “back seat” (no pun intended) to taking the time to remember what this day will always mean to our country.
For today, just like on 9/11/01, this #JerseyGirl is a New Yorker (or New Yorka, depending on which borough you’re from)
I’ll tell you why…
Ten years ago today, I was feeding my one-month-old infant daughter, Vanessa, and watching my 2-year-old son, Matthew eat his waffles while watching the morning news. It was a beautiful day. I will always remember that.
A few minutes before the start of Regis and Kelly, there was breaking news that would forever change more than just the view of our beloved Manhattan Skyline. A plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers at the Word Trade Center in Manhattan.
I remember that no one on TV, no one that I spoke to after the fact, could ever have imagined that what had actually happened was not a plane in distress, but a terrible act of terror, and the ultimate act of cowardice. It was something that could not even have been imagined before that date, or even before that moment.
I remember crying, thinking how awful it was for those people inside the building to have been there at the moment that horrifying “accident” happened. I worried for the families watching, trying to count which of the 100+ floors had been affected, and being devastated at the realizations that they might never see their loved ones again. When the second plane began to approach, and the reporters, who were watching live with the rest of the world, began to scream ON AIR, a feeling of dread like I’ve never known before crept up my spine and paralyzed me. We all watched in horror, but there was nothing anyone could do! When that second plane slammed into the second tower and disappeared for a moment before the explosion, I literally had to lay the baby down on the couch beside me, because I was so numb, I was afraid I would drop her.
Everything that happened after – from the collective realization all over the world that it was an act of terror, to the way that world changed forever, was happening in slow motion for me. I remember shaking so badly as I tried to call my daughter’s school, that it took me several tries. I just wanted my daughter and my husband home – close, where I could physically hold my whole family together, because it became clear to me for the first time in my life that a in an instant, a beautiful, sunny Tuesday morning had just become the worst day ever for thousands of families. It was devastating.
Yet nothing could have prepared me for when the first tower collapsed (actually the second tower hit.) While my heart ached and my tears fell for those who’d certainly been killed within the buildings, I was fervently praying for as many people as possible to get out. When the tower collapsed, my fear and anguish turned to despair. How could those giant buildings, such symbols of strength and permanency, and filled with life and energy, come crumbling down into a pile of rubble, with all those people – who meant everything to so many, still inside? I held my kids close and wept like I’d never wept before, and like I’ve never wept since.
Almost as if they knew I was about to lose it if I watched those scenes on TV for one more minute without a break, American fighter jets began to fly over my house at an altitude that literally rocked the structure, and made me grab both babies and run out of the house. For what? I didn’t know. What I did know for sure as I watched those massive planes, whose mission was to stop another attack if it came, and so close I could make out the windows, was that our lives as Americans were never going to feel the same.
America The Beautiful felt, to me, like America The Broken for those first hours. Another plane slammed into The Pentagon, taking more lives who meant the world to many, and there was still another plane unaccounted for, which later went down in PA, instead of on The White House, thanks to the bravest civilians I’d ever heard of. It was as if the threats to our country were completely out of our control for the first time in our existence. Never had there been a story in a history book where America was as vulnerable as it was that day, and I couldn’t help but think this was one part of history I wished I’d never had to be a part of.
WIthin hours, the smell of fire and the ashes came drifting over into Jersey, leaving a super-fine gray-brown dust on everything. I couldn’t imagine what New York City smelled like, or how people living right there would ever make it through the day, or eat dinner, or go to sleep that night, or ever. That tragedy seemed to hold us all in a death grip of unbelief and foreboding unlike anything we’d ever known. Yet, even before we knew who or why, or even how we’d ever get through it, everyone seemed to know one thing; and they knew it for sure.
We would get through it together.
As Americans. As honorary New Yorkers. It didn’t matter if you lived across the bay, like me, or across the country, or around the world, like some of you. September 11, 2001 made us all New Yorkers where it counted most…in our hearts. It made us think of The Pentagon as more than just “the shape building” where all the war stuff gets sorted out, because now we knew it as a target. It also made us grateful for heroes who kept our nation’s capitol from becoming another casualty; but they accomplished that only by knowingly becoming casualties themselves.
September 11, 2001 broke our hearts, but it also made us stronger. I feel many things when I think back to that day, not the least of which is PRIDE in my country, and in our unbreakable INDIVISIBILITY.
For days and weeks after, I found myself singing and humming the songs that I’d grown up memorizing “for such a time as this.” In fact, for my 2001 baby girl, middle of the night lullabies became “America The Beautiful” and “Our Country ‘Tis of Thee”, replacing “Hush Little Baby” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” (Perhaps that’s the reason she’s so patriotic) 😉
So, today, instead of romance vids and wedding day talk, I’ll leave you with vids to remind you of what matters most. More worthy of our time than our favorite pastimes, and the things that entertain and distract us, is remembering the day that gripped us all in front of our TVs and wouldn’t let us go. Most important is taking the time to remember those whose lives were cut tragically short.
“9/11 Remembered: Life’s 25 Most Powerful Photos Ever” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jUEk5K_Lhg Credit: ALexM615
“FDNY Tribute” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joZuccI4A-c Credit: asabanan
“Prayer Of The Children” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cdCxxBhWyY Credit: EternalMomentsLLC
“9/11 Firefighters – I Can Only Imagine” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZYgnrWvhOg Credit: Dereksolo
“I Believe” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oOW-1OwtCA Credit: ladyamanda123
And just because it should be the song in your heart today… “The U.S. National Anthem” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iSdhPau220 Credit: yaffytaffy12345
“Ray Charles, Game 2 of The 2001 World Series in New York” Just days after the tragedy, MLB and my New York Yankees showed cowards around the world that our colors don’t run! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwOUuFixIdQ Credit: aram42287
Instead of doing what I normally ask you to do, try one of the following:
Fly your flags high and proud today. Thank a fireman for doing the job that could mean losing his life because he rushes to save another’s. Salute and pray for the service men and women fighting to keep us safer here and around the world. Tell your children why today is such a special day to America, though it has yet to be made a national holiday. Write your state representatives and tell them to get moving on making it a national holiday. Share with your children where you were and what you were doing when you heard. Watch one of the memorial services. Say “The Pledge Of Allegiance” as a family, after you discuss with your little ones what each line really means. Start a pen pal correspondence with your children and our troops. Log onto the NYPD or FDNY websites and send them (instead of ABC) an email saying, “Thanks for doing what you do!”
NYPD Official Website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/home/home.shtml
NYFD Official Website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/fdny/html/home2.shtml
I just did both! It takes moments, and it needs to be said!
As my kids t-shirts will say today, AMERICA ROCKS.
Let’s never forget the price that was paid for us to be able to say those words.
Be grateful today, my friends. There are just so many reasons…
Love you all and I Love NY!
God bless the souls of every single life that was lost, and may He continue to bless and guide the lives of those who were left behind, never to be the same again.
GOD BLESS AMERICA.