Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I can't believe it's been 10 years already.  Sometimes it seems like just a few years ago and other days it gets pushed back in my mind because of all the details going on in my life.  I honestly dread this anniversary because I can't bear to watch, yet again, the pictures and video from that day.  I can't look at them again, not even for a second.

In all our lives there are horrific days burned into our memory, I remember President Kennedy, the Challenger, Columbine, and John Lennon (I was/am a huge fan).  9/11 tops them all.

This is where I was when it happened. 

I was married then and we were down in North Carolina on a family vacation.  We were thinking about buying some property down there and maybe making a move.   We were in Atlantic Beach, NC on the morning of 9/11, in a hotel right on the beach, with a pier that had a bar/restaurant on it.  John got up early to go for a run and Cay and I were in the room.  I was taking a shower and Cay was watching TV.  She called me over to see the TV news report and what I saw, or course, stunned me.   I prayed it was an accident but had a funny feeling it wasn't.  Moments later of course, we watched another plane hit the South Tower - live on TV.

We spent the entire day in that little bar on the pier watching TV and trying to get information.  We could see, hear and smell the ocean.  It was so beautiful, a bright blue sky, hot as can be, peaceful.  And here we spent the entire day trying to find out what happened to America.

We were scheduled to fly out of N. Carolina on the very first day that they allowed planes to fly again.  We had an early flight out of Raleigh on USAir.  When we got to the airport it was empty, totally empty other then police with guns and dogs.  There was one single USAir employee behind the check in desk.  We were the only people that showed up for the flight.  Not one other single soul showed for a sold-out flight.  That panicked me and I refused to fly.  I think John was a bit annoyed with me because of that, I guess we'd certainly be safe with no one on the plane but the crew and the 3 of us.  I just couldn't put my family on that plane when not one of the 100+ passengers showed.  

So we called Amtrak and bought tickets home.  We waved a cab at the airport and the driver gets out to get our luggage and he is in Arab dress.  I stopped cold and just stared at him.  He looked at me and said, "I am 10 years in the United States, have a family, and hate what happened."  I'm not a bigot and I of course knew that not all Arab's are bad people because of the acts of a few of them.  But it was hard getting in that cab, I was terrified.  The Amtrak station and train were mobbed.  I guess all those people that were supposed to fly were taking the train just like we were.  We were lucky to get seats.

We had a layover and train change at Union Station in Washington DC and the minute we got off the train there was a bomb scare.  Panic ruled the day and everyone went running out of the station into the streets and I was terrified I'd get separated from my daughter.  Nerves were frayed and there was an undercurrent of fear.  

We finally got our train to Boston.  Just like the previous one it was overcrowded, we got seats again but some people were standing.  In New Jersey, just before you go under the Hudson, you have a very clear view of lower Manhattan.  Everyone in the train stood and watched in silence at the smoke still billowing out from where the Twin Towers use to be.   Many people, myself included, were crying.  It was September 15th.

Penn Station looked like a war zone.  There were police and military every where.  They all had automatic weapons and dogs.  We were not allowed to leave the train or our seats.  The military came on the train with their dogs and walked up and down the entire train with the dogs sniffing all our suitcases and bags.  People were still quietly crying from the ghastly view we saw of the missing World Trade Center.   

We finally got to South Station in Boston and again there were police everywhere.  We quietly drove back to the Cape - quiet, wild, beautiful and unchanged - at least on the surface.  North Carolina is a beautiful state but I'm sorry, after that, I don't think I could ever live there.

I knew our lives had changed forever.   None of us will ever forget that day. I will never forget the sight of Manhattan with smoke rising where those iconic towers once stood.  It still looks wrong to me with out them.  


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