Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Day of Remembrance

Although most Americans wouldn't be able to tell you what they were doing on any given random day, the overwhelming majority would be able to tell you exactly what they were doing the morning of September 11, 2001.

I was in bed.

I'd just started my first year of law school, and was living in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. I was deep in slumber when my cell phone rang just after 6 am. I snuck a groggy peek at the Caller ID.

My mother.

Immediately, I knew it couldn't be a good thing, because the only time I ever got calls waking me out of bed was when something horrible had happened.

I picked it up and said hello, and my mom said "Don't worry, your dad didn't go into work today."

No greeting. Just what would seem to be a cryptic statement. But somehow, I knew. Call it women's intuition, or maybe just latent scary reminders of the day my Dad was trapped on the 102nd foor of the World Trade Center during the 1993 bombing back when I was in high school, but I knew.

Something had happened at the WTC. I wasn't sure what exactly -- I assumed a bomb -- but it had to be the WTC.

I burst into tears even before she could get the horrible story out about the two planes that had crashed into the Twin Towers. I ran into the living room and turned on the TV. There was a correspondent at the Pentagon, talking about whether or not it was terrorism-related. All of a sudden, the correspondent got a look of terror on his face and said that there had been a loud explosion. A few seconds later it was confirmed that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon.

At that point, I started crying even harder. Before moving to AZ, I lived in DC, and I had friends whose apartments were not far at all from the Pentagon, and even some friends who worked there...and on the Hill...and in the White House...and other such places that could be potential targets.

I spent much of the day in a stunned daze, trying to get through to friends in DC and NYC, and failing miserably. Glued to the television, as I watched increasingly macabre images of the planes crashing into the Towers and the Towers falling...over...and over...

But eventually, out of the darkness came hope, and the stories of courage. We began to learn of the heroes, and as a nation, we came together.

The victims of that day may be forever lost, but they are forever remembered.

14 comments:

  1. lovely post, Amanda.

    I remember vividly where I was. In the car. I had just pulled into the office parking lot and was listening to NPR. At first they reported that a small plane had hit the one tower. They had no details.

    By the time I got to my office and turned on the computer, the 2nd plane had hit and we all knew that it was no accident.

    Very hard day for America.

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  2. Oh man. ((hugs)) that had to be a nightmare for you. I get choked up whenever I talk about it -- 9/11 is very raw for me still. My throat and eyes are burning as I read your post, Amanda, and as I type this response.

    I know where I was, too. I was at home, watching TV. I watched as the plane hit the second tower, and I realized it was no accident. It was the most horrifying thing I'd ever seen.

    I ran out of the house and picked up my daughter from school.

    It was truly a nightmare. I'd never been so afraid in my life, felt so helpless.

    ((hugs)) to those who lost friends, family, or loved ones that day, and to those who may not have lost loved ones, but lost their sense of security and comfort. My heart is with you, still grieving your loss, as well as our country's loss.

    I hope we can continue to rebuild and be stronger than ever. And I hope we never forget. I know I never will.

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  3. I will never forget. Heartfelt post Amanda. Thank you.

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  4. I felt so helpless being a couple thousand miles away from my loved ones, especially since I'd only just moved to Arizona, so I didn't have a built-in support system there yet.

    But believe me, this tragedy only brought us first year law students together faster, because most of us were in the same situation...away from our family and friends and not knowing anyone there (in AZ) well.

    I honestly don't know why I knew it was the WTC. I just did. I'll also never get the day of the '93 bombing out of my head...the sheer terror I felt when I came home from school and saw my mom glued to the TV, her face like a ghost when she told me that there'd been a bombing in the WTC and that she hadn't been able to reach my dad.

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  5. It was a hard, soul-searching, unifying day. When you visit Ground Zero, echoes of that day whisper around you. I'm glad they're finally getting the rebuilding underway. I hope they truly capture the emotion of that day and remember those lost with strength and dignity.

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  6. My kids usually watched Nick Jr. in the morning--but that day, for whatever reason, I took the remote and said I wanted to watch the news. I don't know how I knew.

    My heartfelt thanks to those who gave their lives to prevent further attacks--and those who are still making sacrifices so it never happens again.

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  7. Seven years later, and it's still very difficult to take in that first glimpse of the NYC skyline when you come around that last bend in the road before the Lincol Tunnel.

    There's a big gaping hole in Lower Manhattan where the Towers should be.

    It still gets me every time.

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  8. Jennifer10:50 AM

    I, too, remember where I was that morning. I spent that week practically glued to news reports . . . in a state of utter shock.

    In a city with so many skyscrapers, it is truly amazing what a difference those two towers made in the skyline.

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  9. I was a 1L too, in central Virginia. Many of my friends had parents who worked at the pentagon (which was also on fire), and we had several former students who worked in firms at the WTC.

    I remember walking past one of my horrible worried looking professors with a bright smile and a "good morning!" and then three seconds later I saw the TV in the student lounge. It was totally unreal. It's still unreal.

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  10. I was sleeping when it happened. I had just gotten off work from the graveyard shift and my friend called me, bawling and not making much sense.

    I just laid there for a few minutes in stunned silence and then turned on the TV. It was...incredible, and not in a good way.

    A few weeks later, I almost punched someone out for saying 'it wasn't that bad' or something similar.

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  11. Hugs, Amanda! I blogged about it, too. Though I was in Indiana at the time and didn't lose anyone close to me, I felt the immediate sense of despair and loss. And then the heroism.

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  12. It's weird how your mother didn't even say hello -- just the 'don't worry...' I did the same thing to my mother the morning of the Northridge earthquake. I called her from the emergency room (where I was waiting to see a doctor and probably get stitches in my forehead). When she answered, I didn't say hi or anything like that. I said, "I'm okay. I'm at the emergency room, but I'm okay." And like you, she knew -- that there'd been an earthquake.

    On 9/11, I was sleeping. Being on the west coast, by the time I found out, everything had already happened. But my mom called from St. Louis, woke me up and told me to turn on the TV.

    I did so, nearly unable to process the horrific images I was seeing. It reminded me of the morning of the OKC bombing. I'd left the TV on all night and when I woke up, those images greeted me, instead of Katie Couric's smiling face.

    I went to work, but my boss let me go at noon. And I went immediately to my aunt and uncle's house where we all milled around, still trying to make sense of what had happened.

    I don't have a lot of specific memories of that day, save one. I know we sat in their living room, watching non-stop coverage of the unfolding tragedy, seeing those planes hit again and again because we couldn't make ourselves turn it off.

    But I specifically remember bawling like a baby when the congress stood on the front steps of the Capitol and sang God Bless America. It was such a strong moment.

    Another emotional moment was when the sports started playing again, especially baseball. And the legendary late Jack Buck got up on the field at Busch Stadium. He read an poem called For America that he'd written. Then he silenced critics who thought that baseball had come back too soon by saying,

    "I don't know about you, but as for me, the question has already been answered: Should we be here? Yes!"

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  13. I was living in New Jersey at the time, and we were awoken by a phone call from my mom telling us the WTC had collapsed -- and I figured she must have misunderstood, or something, because how can one be happily asleep while the world changes and disaster happens?

    So we got up, and flipped through the channels to find out what had really happened, and half of them were just static....and eventually we recalled that half our news stations in NJ came from Philadelphia, and half from NYC, and the half in NYC all had their transmission antennas on top of the WTC...hence the static...

    The strange thing was, in the months afterward, I realized that the whole thing had shocked a lot of my friends more than it did me. I was utterly pained and horrified, but I knew so many people who kept saying "the world has changed, the safe world we thought we lived in no longer exists" -- but I hadn't thought I'd lived in a safe world before. Maybe it was because I'd lived in England for three years during IRA bombing, and I already thought every unattended suitcase and paper bag must have a bomb in it...so I think that though I was pained as much as my friends, I was less surprised than many. (Does that make sense?)

    Cara

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  14. Home writing. And I called Ahmed-- we had only been together a short while then.

    He was called in by the Red Cross before the day was out to help at Saint Vincent's because he has huge experience with natural disaster triage from working with Doctors Without Borders.

    I was terrified the whole time he was down there.

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