Remembering September 11, 2001

It was a beautiful September day, blue sky, white clouds. Got in my car, went to the bank, then headed to the doctor’s office for an appointment.

I didn’t have the radio on in the car.

When I got to the doctor’s office, everyone was talking about it. The World Trade Center had been hit.
Hit? Bombed? No, no..….a plane, and two towers had been hit.

A plane? What?
What? What are you saying? This can’t be…I felt shivers all over my body.

What? The United States? Attacked on her own soil?

A flashing thought – is this what my mother felt like when Pearl Harbor was bombed? This combination of fear, indignation, anger…disbelief? This is the feeling that mobilized the country into World War II?

The receptionist said, you can go home if you want, but the doctor is keeping his appointments. I thought about what to do. I tried to use my cell phone to call my husband, to call my son’s school, there was no dial tone.

The receptionist said the public schools are staying open, keeping the kids in school,. The news is that it is an isolated attack and there isn’t a threat to the country in general. Not to panic. I was sort of numb. There wasn’t anything immediate that I could do.

I was sort of confused and wanted to get home. I stayed for my appointment, it didn’t take long.

I was soon on Route 80 West for the 30 minute drive home.

Surreal. Hardly any other cars on the road.
No planes in the sky. None.
Quiet. The sky was so peaceful. No sound of jets. Is this what the sky looked like in the early 1900’s?
Quiet and blue…

A squad of low-flying fighter jets flew overhead in the New Jersey sky.
I could clearly see the US flags on their tails.
I had never seen that before. It was comforting and frightening at the same time.

Home. My husband came home around the same time. We go to my son’s school. Lots of parents are taking the kids out. The lady in the office says, well, you can take him if you’d like, but the kids are fine, we are trying not to panic them.

We wait a bit, go get pizza down the road, huddle around the TV with a group of people. Our eyes riveted to the towers burning and falling.

It is a nightmare that can’t sink in. My husband proposed to me at Window on the World, ten years earlier. It was gone? Gone?

We pick up my son, tell him it’s time to go home a little early today. What do we say? We watch the TV a bit, but turn it off, as it is horrifying to watch it over and over again. And I don’t want my son to see it. I tell him that some people have bombed New York City, but that we are safe and the US armed forces are taking care of the country now. He is 6; he doesn’t really react to this at all.

My husband and I try to call around, but the phone lines are jammed.

Who do we know that works there? Who is close by? We wait to hear.

I worked in the World Trade Center for six years, it is was now a burning inferno. What?

It was a day I will remember forever. So many flashbulb memories. Here are some.

– The head of Cantor Fitzgerald on TV, praising his people, calling them “spectacular people,” as they got back to work, helping getting the American stock exchange open again, even thought they lost over 600 employees in the carnage.

– The sight in pictures of people jumping out of windows to escape the flames.

– The local firehouse set up to take in donations, and everyone pouring in dumping money & supplies.

– The local stores empty as everyone bought supplies and donated them to the people working down at the wreckage…

_Later, my friends describing how it was to be right there on Wall Street when it happened.

– Looking out their windows and seeing the planes hit the towers.
A sea of thick ash everywhere, walking through the ash, walking uptown to get home. Wrapping their heads in wet paper towels, walking, coughing, walking, walking….

– Me and my family standing out on Rt 46 at nigth holding candles for the cross-country vigil..

– Hearing about the sailors of a German vessel lining up and saluting as they pass an American vessel on the open ocean “we are with you”

– My client, who worked in the WTC, telling me about how he went downstairs to get coffee before a meeting, so was not in the towers when they were hit

– Another client telling me how he was on the first team in to help get the NYSE circuitry and computer infrastructure up and running again

– Grief and disbelief as we learned some of our neighbors died in the towers.

Memories etched forever in my heart and mind.

Feelings of grief that are hard to touch or describe, still too hard to is easier to just list these concrete picture memory pictures.

I wanted to acknowledge the people who were killed and harmed on that day ten years ago, and their families. You are not forgotten.

Please share your memories of that day here, if you’d like.

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12 Responses to “Remembering September 11, 2001”

  • Rae:

    Thanks Kathy for putting this together. I was flooded with the raw emotion of that day when I read your post. How easy it is for some of us to put these emotions aside while others must feel the effects on a daily basis. My heart goes out to those who where there and the friends and families who lost loved ones.

    I remember driving to work the next morning and seeing flags at every turn. I really hoped this tragedy would help unite us as a country.

    You are right, there was nothing but grim video on television for a long time. I remember watching every episode of Planets Funniest Animals just because I needed some feel good TV.

    • BirthTouch:

      Hi Rae –
      thanks so much for your comments! That day is burned into my memory with so many emotions!
      take care, Kathy

  • Hi Kathy,
    I’ve been realizing this week ( via various body signals like no sleep) just how much this anniversary was affecting me. How traumatized I still am. I have been dreading this week for months.
    I never worked in the Trade Center, but I have noticed that for any one who ever did work there there, this event, horrific in all our eyes, was magnified.
    I remember what a glorious day it was to begin with… and how I was at home in my office listening to Steve Post on the radio until he just vanished. For some reason I knew instantly this was not an accident.
    Spent several frantic hours trying to reach my younger daughter who I called in her office in DC and then did not hear from for hours as she commuted past the Pentagon to go home and my son-in-law, who was on a plane out of Reagan, which unbeknownst to me, never left the tarmack. Spent the following weekend surrounded by our daughters friends, some of whom were working in Wall Street area and saw things no human should have to endure, including one pregnant mommy! Lost a neighbor, who left five little ones and an aquaintance who was burned and lingered for more than a month, poor woman.(It was only her second week working back in the trade center after 10 years in Jersey City.)
    we in our country need to heal this wound and then work on healing the wounds of the world, not creating more.. peace is what we need.

    • BirthTouch:

      Elaine – oh my goodness, we have all suffered so much with this…so sorry to hear of your neighbors! and what a shock to be in that beautiful morning and then to have that tragedy occur! I know that O have not really healed from this..and then I think about all the people who live with war as a constant in their lives ..and how traumatized they must be….and I think about how fortunate we are living here…I wish there was a way to just change the world, change the nature of man, and have peace and harmony. Blessing, thank you for your post.

  • Powerful memories Kathy. I don’t know why but I feel like the tragedy would resonate with you more than me because you worked in the towers for a number of years. You knew the building, felt it in the past.

    A good friend’s daughter worked in one of the Towers and survived. I didn’t know she worked there so my friend and I didn’t connect about it for weeks (she lives in a different state than I). Needless to say it was/is very personal for her.

    Listening to some of the interviews of firefighters who survived were visceral. But it is still distant to me since I was not personally involved. Or I’m just good at shutting things off that I don’t want to deal with. Cherry

    • BirthTouch:

      Hi Cherry – wow. love your post! I think it’s normal to tune things out hat are too big or we cant do anything about….I know I did..until the tenth anniversary ..I didnt realize I was just tuning it out…all the memories came rushing back… I watched the entire coverage and was just brought everything back in a flash…..thank God your friends daughter survived…what a trauma for her and her family..
      thanks for the post!

  • Oh, Kathy–what a beautiful and tragic remembrance. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be so close, and to hold the history of the towers that you experienced before the catastrophy.

    I was pregnant and due to deliver within the week. Not to bring up any tragedy, but I was still recovering from the woman from Texas who drowned her kids….I think I went numb, and didn’t fully grasp the enormity of the situation.

    I remember turning off the TV when Mayor Giuliani talked of ordering more body bags…

    I didn’t watch any news coverage yesterday, and honored the victims in my own special way :(.

    • BirthTouch:

      wow Linda – thanks for the personal share…wow….I can;t imagine being pregnant when this happened and hearing about Andrea Yates and then the twin towers…smart to practice self-care and try to relax! I was so involved I couldnt turn ti off..I wonder, tho, if I was pregnant what I would’ve done…. but it was so close and so many ppl I knew either saw it right on Wall Street or were so sad actually int towers…it was just something that was in all the tristate population’s experience….there are studies that show that women who lost someone or who experienced 9/11 experienced either preterm labor and or miscarriage at high rates…anyway, dont balme you for news fasting….I news fasted the entire time I worked in the cancer was just too much tragedy !

  • It’s an event that everyone can remember where they were and what they were doing – like when JFK was shot and when the Challenger blew up.

  • Ohhh..I remember lying in bed nursing my 3 week old baby when I got the phone call..
    I was devastated..I cried as I watched the news…
    I wouldn’t let go of my baby.
    As I nursed him all day, I wondered if I had made a mistake..Consciously bringing an innocent new life into this world. Tears on my baby’s perfect little head.
    Horror as I watched the newsman stand there speechless as the 2nd tower came down right behind him.
    I clung tightly to my precious little bundle.
    I sprung up into my husband’s arms when he came home..
    I breathed deeply for the first time that night, when I heard my Little brother, a police officer in NYC was alive and well..
    I made plans to be with our close friend that lost his big brother, a firefighter, in the South Tower…
    Co-sleeping tightly, like I imagine primitive people did in ancient times..afraid for their lives, huddled in caves..

    • BirthTouch:

      Hi Jess – thank you for your reply! I am so happy that your brother was safe! and so sorry to hear of your friends loss…we lost so many that day..we were all affected.
      and we need people like you, hopeful, passionate people to help keep this world balanced! good luck to you and your family! your wonderful child, about tne or eleven now?
      a positive life force in this world! take care, Kathy

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