I Remember The Silence


Our daughter had just started kindergarten — so fresh and shiny and new in her school uniform. Our son couldn’t wait to go to pre-school the next morning. My husband had dropped our daughter at school — promptly at 7:55 am — and had gone right to his gallery in midtown Manhattan. I was in the middle of my morning routine when my husband called shortly after 8. “Turn on the TV” he said. “A client just told me a plane crashed into one of the Twin Towers.”

I propped up our son in front of his Legos, or maybe a train set. Whatever it was, I ran into the bedroom and clicked on the television. Reporters were incredulous, flummoxed, some of the earliest local reports conjecturing a commuter plane had careened out of control. That notion was quickly dismissed however — no commuter plane could wreak such damage. Then the second plane hit and there was no longer any question about what had happened.

What I remember most about September 11th is the silence. Noisy New York suddenly silenced, ground to a halt, in lockdown, no traffic, airspace closed, people in utter shock and disbelief. But no noise. Not where I live anyway, uptown in a residential neighborhood and relatively far away from the World Trade Center, far enough away that I couldn’t even see the Twin Towers.

I think a lot about that 8 o’clock hour — a typical New York morning, rush hour traffic on the West Side Highway, taxis skimming down the avenues, horns honking, brakes screeching, people scurrying to school and to work. Did I hear either of those planes hurtling through the city sky before hitting their targets? Could I have? They were flying so low at that point, how could I have missed the roar of their jet engines? Or was I just so inured to the sounds of New York on a typical day that I simply blocked out the noise, an urban survival instinct?

My husband came home — on foot — everyone walking, walking north, everyone slightly dazed. And then we walked together across the park to pick up our daughter at the end of her school day, marveling at the crystal clear blue sky and the utter silence.

We sat as a family in the middle of the park, quietly talking about what had happened,  no hum of traffic, and no jetstream plumes that normally would crisscross the New York skyline at that hour. And I knew that our children’s world was all of a sudden very different from the one my husband I had grown up in. Not that the threat of terrorism hadn’t been there before. But there, right there, was the paradigm shift, on a beautiful sparkling fall day, cloaked in terrible noise, and then in silence.

Photo courtesy of Lil' Mike via Flickr


Dave C.
David C4 years ago

I, too.........while not in NY, I remember walking the dog w/out hearing the planes except for an occasional air national guard plane for several days after.....I also remember the coming together and "whats best for all" attitude that occurred for a while........which we could find this attitude also.

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal6 years ago

Thanks you for sharing your events of that day.

Maree Ann P.

It was a terrible tragedy we watched here in australia couldnt believe it, I hope nothing this tragic ever happens again!

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons6 years ago

I remember how far our country went down hill and how we did everything wrong.

Lilithe Magdalene

To those who are shaming people who call on "God" or "pray" for peace - please stop it. It's ugly. I does not matter the name or the source as long as we are invoking peace and not hatred or war. Please do not shame those who use their faith in whatever deity to ask for the world to find it's happy place and stop all of this murder. Others will use "God" to invoke war - it is not the name people place on source that matters, it is what they are invoking that matters - and that lives in the heart of humans. I would see patriarchal religions go the way of the dinosaur myself, but never would I shame anybody for praying to their god for peace.

Jackie Agusta
Jackie Agusta6 years ago

No airforce because they were all playing war games at Chenney's request, that's a fact. Lovely piece of writing, thank you for sharing your thaughts...:-(

Pamela H.
Pamela H6 years ago

One thing I kept asking during that terrible silence was "Where the hell is the airforce"? It took such a long time before we saw just one fighter cross that sky.

Colleen L, praying is not going to remind anybody's ruler to bring our troops home. Praying is just words into the ether. The only way to let the governments of the day know what the people want is by our votes. Voting is so important. If we don't vote, the replicans will, and they just love their wars.

Tereza Z.
Tereza Zugloi6 years ago

love and peace thats what i say.

Colleen L.
Colleen L6 years ago

Again I say that my thoughts and prayers are with all who have lost ones because of 9/11/01. But I feel that we shouldn't be over in these countries fighting. We've lost so many more due to wars. They warned they didn't want us there and yet does the people ruling the world listen? No. So I pray that today reminds our ruler, to bring our troops home and stay out. We've lost and killed too many innocent people as it is. I want peace in America. Thanks Suzi

Ellen Mccabe
Ellen m6 years ago

We all do.