This week, we’re taking a look at some of the impacts, memories and changes that 9/11 has created over the last ten years. Some of our Care2 members shared their memories of that tragic day with us, and we want to share it with you.
Yk K.: That day was a Tuesday, and I was on my way to work on the crosstown bus to the Westside from the UES (NYC). I overheard some people on the bus saying that plane hit the WTC building. We all assumed is was a small plane, and as we were turning onto 5th avenue from 86th St. I saw black smoke rising from the the downtown area. When I got to work I was told that another commerical airline hit the Towers, and the rest you know.
Since transportation was sporadic I, like so many others, walked home. On my way back to the Eastside through Central Park I overheard this conversation a young father was having with his young daughter who walked past me. The father was in a bankers suit and he was holding his daughter’s hand while walking. The girl asked her father why they were walking, and not taking the bus. The father answered, “Some very bad people did something very bad to hurt many, many people, and everything is a little crazy now.” To this day I remember the warm September day, the expressions on the faces of the people I walked past, and the relief of finally reaching home to be with family.
Melanie B: It was very hot on Sept. 10, so I slept in the living room, under the AC. My boyfriend couldn’t sleep well, so he had the TV on, and as I drifted into consciousness the next morning I heard the words “planes” and “crash” a lot. When I finally sat up, he looked me right in the eyes and told me what happened. I had a moment of clarity- I needed to do laundry, now, because I had no idea what would happen by 4PM, the time at which I had to report to work at the American Red Cross. It turns out I wasn’t sent across the state to ground zero, but was told to stay in Rochester NY, home of the largest blood processing facility in the world. In that first week, we processed a month’s worth of blood. All of us had all our vacation time canceled and had to work twelve-hour days and six-day weeks. We all got two hot meals a day, donated by local restaurants. I never saw so many people fall asleep standing up before. At one point I walked into a wall in front of my boss, I was so tired. And none of us would have changed anything.
I was taking a few college classes then, so I had to fit my twelve hours into my class schedule, and try to work as much sleep as possible into the remaining day. Unlike most Americans, I didn’t come home and fixate on the sordid images on TV. I didn’t need to, the enormity of the darkness and destruction seemed to have permeated the air itself. But I was safe, I was doing something to help, and I was the recipient of so much good will. And I think the ability of the universe to balance enormous bad with good was the most important lesson I learned from that experience.
Sally E: I live in the UK. 9/11 will be forever etched on my mind. I returned home from an early shift to see my daughter who was being cared for by a friend while I was at work. I never returned home to find my friend watching TV but on that day, she was totally glued; my daughter busy playing at her feet. My friend had been been crying and was unable to speak when I asked her what on earth was wrong. (My daughter looked happy, so I knew she was fine). My friend pointed to the TV and I listened. Within a minute, I had to sit down, I started shaking as I Iistened to more and more about that tragic day and then I began to cry too.
In October 2000 my partner had died in his sleep; I had woken to his lifeless body; he was 45. Thanks to my wonderful friends I was supported and loved and hence, the reason for my friends’ help on that day. It had been a tough and painful journey, one of which I had felt like a victim of pain every single day. However, 9/11 put everything into perspective for me… while it was okay for me to grieve…. my life, my experience of life suddenly became just a grain of sand in comparison to the whole world in which so many many people suffer. On that day, I was able to turn my focus onto something bigger than just me… I stopped grieving for my own loss and grieved for the world instead. In an odd way, I was woke up to life… and realised just how precious it is!
Gerda M: I was at work in Markham Canada, listening to the radio. When they announced that a plane hit the first tower I thought that it was an ad for an action film. When the second plane hit and the towers collapsed I realized this was no commercial but really happening. But what touched me the most is what happened the next morning. A co-worker who is from an Islamic country half jokingly said that I shouldn’t be seen with her, a Muslim. I took her and gave her a big hug and told her not to say that because the people that did that weren’t real Muslims. They were just using the religion for their own selfish agenda. Then we both shed a few tears for all the people that were lost that day.
Muffet J: My apartment was in Brooklyn Heights. From the Promenade we had a clear view of the towers right across the East River. When news of the first plane hitting the tower came on the news, I assumed like many people it was a private plane that had gone wrong. Very quickly it became clear that it had been a major airliner and that we were under attack. I ran the two blocks to the Promenade and joined my neighbors as we watched the flames and black smoke pour from the first tower. Even then, most of us – as we spoke to one another – never dreamed the tower would actually fall. I didn’t even believe people on the floors above the flames wouldn’t be able to get out. I realized that my appointment in Lower Manhattan wouldn’t be happening that morning in any case, so I went home to change clothes. On my way back to the Promenade a few minutes later with my camera, I was walking under one of the beautiful trees that line the streets of the Heights when I heard screams and saw people running. As I cleared the leaves that were blocking my view of the Towers, I saw that the second plane had struck. From across the water we watched together, families and people of all ages and backgrounds, until the greatest horror – the buildings crumbled before us in slow motion. I remember that it really was too much to comprehend. You couldn’t really think, it was too big and too awful. I know I hoped at that point that everyone had gotten out, but I think we knew that wouldn’t be the case.
Mary E: Where was I when the world stopped moving? I was blow drying my hair getting ready for work. I had the news on as I did every morning and barely heard this “Breaking News” bulletin. When I saw what they were showing on TV I just couldn’t believe it. I actually thought it was one of those Saturday Night Live spoofs that they had been randomly showing on TV. I just couldn’t believe it was real. When the reality sunk in I just sat there and cried!!! I woke up my kids to get ready for school and just sat there hugging them and realizng just how lucky we were, but in the same note not sure if we were going to be the next target. I didn’t know wheter I should go to work and let my kids go to school. It was a weird feeling especially when I got to work and the entire office was quiet and somber. We just weren’t sure what was going to happen next and it was so strange that everyone just went on with their day. I will never forget it and my kids were too young to really remember it. Now 10 years later we are still losing our fellow americans to a war we will never win!
Sue N: My husband and I were vacationing in Shenandoah National Park. Our youngest daughter called and told us to turn on the radio. We were in a state of shock as we heard Dan Rather report that not all of New York was burning. When we arrived at Big Meadows Lodge, we hurried to the community room where guests had already gathered around the television set. Newscasters reported that a plane had gone down in Pittsburgh, PA. I gasped and said aloud, “That’s where we live.” Several people in the room quietly walked over to my husband and myself and surrounded us. A woman took my hand and gently squeezed it. At that moment, we were no longer strangers, we became a community.
Thank you for sharing your stories with us. We’ll be posting more of your memories later in the week.
Photo credit: Sister72