I was at work. I had only just gotten there. My coffee was still hot when a coworker, who was perusing the Internet, saw a shocking news post. One of the Twin Towers was hit by an airplane.
We knew that the secretary of an attorney, who rents from our office, had a small television at her desk. Most of the staff ran to her desk so we could watch everything unfold on the news. How sad, we thought; one of the engines must have failed, the pilot must’ve gotten sick. Our bosses has joined us to see what was going on (mind you, the television set she had couldn’t have been more than 9 inches). Just as our boss was going to tell us to go back to our desks, right before our eyes, the second plane hit the second tower. At that moment, we came to the harsh realization that this was no engine failure. Our boss immediately directed everyone to shut off their computers and go home.
A co-worker who lived in Long Island offered me a ride home since she had to get on the highway anyway. The VanWyck expressway was eerily empty. She came up the ramp on my exit and I told her I would get out there so she could jump back on the highway. The walk could not have been longer to get to my 6 month old even though it was only 5 blocks. I chatted with the babysitter for a little bit before putting my son in the stroller to pick up my older son from pre-school another 10 blocks away, but only 1 block from my home. We got home and my mother was sitting in the kitchen watching the news unfold. Then it happened. As I was taking off the baby’s jacket, on live television, the first tower crumbled as if it were nothing. Just a plume of grey smog was left. We started seeing news of other hijackings around the country. Though only 5 minutes from JFK airport, the skies were completely silent as all air traffic was grounded.
I need not relive the horrors of what we would learn via the news. I just remember being increasing grateful. For many reasons. You see the only reason my mother was home was because it was her last day of vacation. Her trip had ended early so she was home the previous day “doing nothing”. That night she said she was going to go into work the following day. I said “Oh Ma! You already have the day off, just sit back and relax. Enjoy your time off.” She insisted that she would go into work the following day. September 11, 2001. For some reason, when she woke up the morning of September 11th, she decided she would take my advice and stay home. I was thankful and grateful that some voice inside her convinced her to stay home. Her office was just 2 blocks away on Church Street. Transportation was crippled, bridges were closed, her coworkers had to walk hours and hours to get home. Many of them lived much closer than she did. Her staying home that day was one small blessing in the middle all of the destruction. Her office would remain closed for several weeks.
So many friends and family worked in Manhattan. It was excruciating waiting to hear from everyone to make sure they were okay. I remember feeling so scared, like many other Americans. Even after the President addressed the nation, I was still worried because I could see in his eyes that he was worried too. However, I was reassured that America would prevail.
I recently read that this September would welcome the first group of High School students that would learn about 9/11 as purely a historical event. They were not alive when it happened. I could not help but think, after all these years, I remember every detail as if it were yesterday. It’s hard to think of it as history. I am sure you all can remember exactly where you were, what you were doing, who you were with and how you felt on that fateful day. Have you told your story? Have you preserved these details for our future generations? Pictures are not needed. Somethings you never forget. You can remember every detail. It is important to pass on your perspective.