I Remember

I remember laughing in my blue Saturn at NPR as they discussed Bushisms. I remember carrying my infant daughter up the stairs to our house. I remember sitting on my couch, opening the bag of donuts. I remember turning on my TV to the Today Show.

At first it was awe. At first it was confusion. At first it was an accident.

Matt Lauer interviewed a woman who described the first tower. The first plane. The first fire.

Then the second hit. Live on TV. Live in front of the world.

Confusion turned to fear, anxiety and determination.

I left the uneaten donuts, the live TV, scooped up my daughter and raced back to the school to get my son. Never noticing how blue and beautiful the sky was that day.

The sky is beautiful and blue today and I remember.

To all those who were lost 9 years ago, to those who have served us and protected, to those who raced in when lower Manhattan was covered in ash, I remember you.

How could I ever forget?

To those who’ve preached tolerance amidst fear and misinformation, to those who’ve started to rebuild, to those who’ve carried on despite their losses, I thank you.

How could I not?

It is more than a moment of silence. It is a lifetime of memory and slowly healing wounds. It is a day for every American, every citizen of the world, every human to reflect on an event that will never be forgotten.

How could we?

28 thoughts on “I Remember

  1. I remember and I’m half a world away in Australia. Arrived home at 11pm and turned the TV on to see such shocking pictures of the events unfolding.
    My thoughts to all those affected by these terrible crimes against humanity. That’s a lot of people.

    11th of Sept about to finish here in Melbourne, but it will be back next year to haunt us again.

  2. I am sorry for your losses. I am sorry that it took such a tragedy for some of your political classes to understand something of the reality of human feelings in other countries. I am sorry that some thought it an excuse for throwing away the lives of more young heroes.

    My first thoughts when I heard the news were “Perhaps the Americans will understand terrorism now. Perhaps they will stop having public campaigns for funding the IRA bombers. The bombers who blew my great aunt’s legs off because she was drinking in the wrong pub and killed many others over 30 years for stupid reasons. Stone-hearted killers, not the noble Irish nationalists of Hollywood. Perhaps the Americans (and our lapdog politicians in the UK) will stop having unjustified wars against technologically inferior countries, with so many civilian casualties that how could their grieving sons, brothers, fathers, mothers etc. resist striking back in any way they can? Perhaps they will stop destroying democratically-elected leftist governments and regain some international respect as a straight dealer.”

    I know Bloody Sunday was an awful tragedy, mistakes were made on every side. But that doesn’t change the fact that hearts and minds aren’t won by killing but by clever marketing (or diplomacy, if you prefer). I have lived most of my adult life with the IRA terror campaigns here. I have been woken by one of their bombs, friends were thrown to the ground by the blast. For most of that time we wondered how Americans could support such murdering scum in a country they claimed as an ally. The Irish republican terrorists have mostly stopped now, due to talks not war.

  3. Pat @2, I had many of the same thoughts as well, once I understood what was going on.

    The reaction to 9/11, the constant beating of the war drums, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the increasing rhetoric of a war on Islam will only cause more events like 9/11.

  4. I remember. I remember working at a 7-11 when the first plane struck, no believing what I was hearing on the radio. I remember finishing work to go to school, walking through the mall on the way to class and seeing images playing on every screen, the horror of it reflected on the faces around me. I remember going home and finding both my parents there, watching the news and just a frightened as I was.

    I also remember this though. When people were stranded in the Maritimes because of the airlines being shutdown, they were taken in by the locals and given a place to sleep. They were made to feel welcome and safe by my fellow Canadians in a time they really needed it, and that was never really acknowledged by the American leadership. However, I know that if it were to happen again we would act the same way and offer aid and comfort.

    I remember the fear and the hatred that spilled forth after Sept 11, but I also remember the love and care that people showed, and that’s what I choose to hold on to. It’s what we all need to remember if we’re going to make it so something like this never happens again.

  5. The sad thing to me is that 9/11 has become such a special, treasured event.

    Look at hurricane Katrina. Or the quake in Haiti. Or the flooding in Pakistan.

    Or the misery in Iraq, or the Congo.

    Or wherever.

    The sad thing to me about 9/11 is that now it’s It’s “when everything changed.” The area is now “hallowed ground.”

    Everyone suffers, period. Disasters should, ideally, remind us of our shared humanity.

    Instead, we have a special day, with ceremonies, arguments over whether mosques are more desirable than strip clubs, and similar political footballs.

    It makes me sad. We have an opportunity to remember what suffering feels like. Let’s use it as a spur to compassion, not memorialize it as our special event.

    Everybody suffers.

  6. My thoughts go out to the families and friends of the families of those who survived, those who did not, and those who helped on that day. Sadly terrorism is not a new thing, and this wasn’t the first day to have families grieving and even more sadly wasn’t the last. A small footnote to the day was that when the towers fell the death toll included almost all of the frequent fliers on Concorde. Not only did the terrorists destroy America’s proudest industrial achievements, but also Britain and France’s one and ended the era of supersonic travel.

    Pat@2

    One of my thoughts was “maybe Noraid will stop funding the IRA now”, which they mostly did. I find it tragic that it took an act of terror on US soil for US citizens to stop funding acts of terror on UK soil. It was as much the cutting of financial ties that contributed to the IRA ending hostilities in 2005 as it was talks.

  7. I remember vividly. My husband had left that morning to be on a flight from CLE to New York, and then heading overseas. I was home, playing with our new puppy, when the news cut in. I had been watching Cartoon Network or some such, so I knew this was BIG. I watched in shock and horror, and then again at the second… and realized that my husband may have been involved.

    Apparently, everyone else we knew did too, because the phone started to ring and didn’t stop. Hours passed before I found out he had made his connecting flight to Frankfurt before the events.

    He told me later that he had no idea what was going on until he reached his hotel and saw everyone gathered around watching TV. He asked them what disaster movie they were watching.

    So my memories are of incredible stress and fear followed by sheer joy in knowing my husband was safe, and deep sorrow for those whose loved ones were not as fortunate.

  8. Well said, Kate.

    I remember well the feeling I had when the “accident” in the first tower suddenly became something much more sinister when we watched the second tower get hit. My guts tightened up like I was about to be punched.

    When the second tower fell, I remember numbly telling my wife I was glad I was too old for Selective Service. I knew then “this meant war.” There was no escaping that conclusion.

    For those who lost loved ones that day, we remember.

  9. I remember. I remember where I was, what I was doing and what I did next.
    heteromeles@5. Natural disasters are not the same as an attack. One generates a charitable response the other a military response. A natural disaster reminds us of our shared humanity while an attack reminds us of how inhumane humans can be.

  10. I remember the shock and horror I felt that day as I watched the images on the news. I remember wondering how anyone could be such a monster as to be capable of doing something so terrible.

    I also remember the hope and pride I felt as I saw the citizens of New York City, the firefighters and rescue workers rush to respond. People all across the country came together to help. I’ll always remember that too.

  11. My son was going through Advanced Infantry Training for Combat Medic on 9/11. My wife, who worked for JetBlue at the time was attending a training session at Kew Gardens just a few miles from the attack. She wound up spending the next few weeks at JFK helping make stranded customers comfortable.

    When my son graduated and came home for leave a month or so later, my youngest daughter and I met him in NYC. I told him there was no doubt that we would be going to war and he should see for himself why. This is my report on that trip.

    I myself was at work and the company set up TVs in all the conference rooms. Everyone was shocked into silence as we watched the events unfold. I recalled how only a few months ago I had taken my wife to lower manhattan for mothers day. We stayed at the millennium hotel across the street from the wtc and now it was gone.

  12. I remember that it really didn’t sink in that day..it was the next day: driving to work, seeing that blue sky with no jet trails, and thinking that it didn’t seem right that everything should look so unchanged. But for a short while it seemed that suddenly people were a little bit more patient and careful with each other, realizing how fragile everything suddenly seemed.

  13. Elaine @12: That, I think, is the part we must remember. I think if we learn to celebrate each other, to look at the person that is different than we are and say, “hey, you’re kinda neat!” we can contribute to tikkun olam, as it is said in Hebrew, healing of the world.

    No, I’m not naive. There are those who will hate that which is different, and act out. They have to be dealt with. But if we can *focus* on the goodness? I think we’ll be better for it.

    Namaste.

  14. I awoke to my clock-radio turning on – the newscasters were talking about a small plane hitting a building in New York and how a similar thing had happened to the Empire State Building. They become very quiet, a minute or two later one of them, in tears, stated it was a large commercial plane.

    Watching television as the second plane hit, I thought, like Pat and others, that we would finally understand what other countries go through.

  15. I remember standing in my server room, working on something when I heard a knock on the door. Our receptionist told me a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, and I thought surely it must have been an accident. When she came back a few minutes later and said a second plane had hit I went numb. I spent the next half-hour trying to bring up CNN online, but the volume of traffic had overwhelmed their servers.

    We rolled the tv from our conference room to one of the offices with a window and fashioned an antenna out of a coat hanger to watch the news reports. We watched as the towers burned and people jumped from the floors above, knowing they had no chance of surviving such a fall; the collapse of one and then the other tower, the resulting waves of ash and debris billowing down the streets as people raced to get away from them; the endless replays of video showing the second plane hitting, seeming to come out of nowhere as all the cameras were focused on the first tower.

    To this day I find it incredible that so many in our office stayed glued to the tv rather than evacuating as quickly as possible, with our office building being in the shadow of Sears Tower and with planes still in the air. At some point the building management had announced that everyone should get out, without waiting to see if anyone actually did.

    I remember sitting at home that afternoon, an eerie silence replacing the constant whine of jets taking off or landing at O’Hare. A background noise you learn to ignore suddenly noticeable in its absence.

    That we were attacked really didn’t surprise me — after all, this wasn’t the first attack, nor even the first attempt on the World Trade Center. I wasn’t even all that surprised at how easy it was for them to pull off, even going so far as to take dry runs leading up to 9/11. What shocked me was the devastation they managed to cause with such a simple plan. I doubt they imagined they would be able to bring the towers down the way they did — probably the one saving grace that day. Had they known the towers would collapse they might have waited until later in the day when more people would have been inside.

    I’m sad for the victims of 9/11, as well as the friends and family of those victims. I’m sad for the people who rushed in to help who continue to live with the ill-effects of breathing the air in and around Ground Zero, and that their medical needs go mostly ignored to this day. I’m sad for the young lives sacrificed in Afghanistan and Iraq in an effort to show that we’re fighting back, even as some of those efforts increase the chance of our being attacked again. I’m sad that our effort to ‘fight back’ has meant the deaths of tens of thousands of mostly innocent people in those countries.

  16. [Deleted - Pete, I wouldn't shit on a day of remembrance for any other grieving country or people. Don't come here and defile mine. KEB]

  17. I remember how perfect Sept. 10th ’01 was – It was warm and the sky was September blue. The crickets were singing and I sat with my children, who were toddlers then, out on my back porch eating a taffy apple. I remember I was so happy and in love with the world.
    And then the next day. It was just as beautiful. But around 8am, I no longer noticed. I remember thinking, “well, thank goodness those planes don’t have any passengers on them,” because I couldn’t face the enormity of what was really happening. I remember looking outside and was astounded that it was sunny outside – when all the world felt clouded over.

    I will never forget.

  18. To those of you who’ve shared your memories of a day still healing in your heart, thank you.

    To those of you who are using the excuse to beat your political drum and use this post as a soapbox, move on.

    I will not tolerate chest beating and “mightier-than-thou” attitudes on a post dedicated to grieving.

  19. I remember like it was yesterday. My brothers and I and family were in Denver when I came down to the breakfast room all excited for a new day of exploring Colorado.

    My sister in law pointed to the TV and said “look!”. The second tower had fallen. My heart sank and I was afraid for our country.

    There was news coverage of the 9th anniversary this morning and I couldn’t watch it. The pain is still too much. I didn’t lose anyone but my heart still goes out to those who did. May those who perished rest in peace; may those who survived go in peace.

  20. I remember getting the alert that the file server in our WTC office was down. The IT guy in that office wouldn’t pick up the damn phone and where the hell was he, anyway? We restored the server from a backup while we paged the guy again and grumbled to ourselves about how little data there was. There were probably a thousand people in that office, and there was almost nothing on the backup tapes. Somebody’s ass was going to get chewed.

    Then reports and calls started trickling in and we turned on the TV in the conference room. Pretty soon it was obvious that our IT guy was probably dead – along with everyone else in that office. Corporate emails started coming out. Call this hotline for… Refer all inquiries to… Those of us in Ohio sat there, numb. We didn’t know anyone in that office, they were just people who were in the corporate registry, but it hit very close to home – any of us could have been there in that office that day. 175 people died, but the other 900ish were evacuated, thank God.

    It was surreal and almost ghoulish how the emphasis on business continuity kicked in almost immediately. However, there was also the driving need to DO something. This was something we could do, and we threw ourselves into it relentlessly. In fact, we lived and breathed backup and recovery for the next couple of years. There was this weird, unspoken sort of urgency to get this right so that next time, the blow might not be so heavy. It was like ‘protect the data from the terrorists!’ Because they got us pretty damn hard there, too.

    Most of the people in that office were fairly old school and while they had files on everything, it was mostly on paper. All of that was gone. Others who did use laptops saved things to local drives – hence the empty file server. Most of the laptops were destroyed. The people who knew about contracts and clients were dead or injured or so traumatized they couldn’t think about it. In the end, we recovered only the smallest part of the vast amount of data that had been in that office.

    Sorting through the digital ashes for 18 months kept the tragedy real and immediate to me. The desire to salvage something – anything – from such a tragedy was acute. As if it would matter. I still get teary over the fact that we recovered so little. Isn’t that weird?

  21. It seemed like a dream. More specifically, it seemed like the part of a dream just before you wake up …. when things have gotten so ridiculous that even though you’re still asleep, you KNOW it’s just a dream and you’re going to wake up any moment.

    Sadly, the dream turned out very badly.

    I can only wish peace upon those that have suffered because of that day.

    I can only convey thanks to all of those around the world who have fought that which is truly evil.

    I can only hope that humanity finds a way to rise above the sort of thinking that led to it.

    I am ready for us all to have a nice dream for a change.

  22. I was in a hotel, four hours from home (a drive, thank God), and I was listening to the news as I got ready to go to work. They were talking about a plane that had hit the World Trade Center, and it didn’t really make sense.

    Then I saw the second plane hit, live and in color, and it made too much sense. I started calling people and telling them what was happening, and everyone dismissed me – no one could grasp what I was telling them.

    I shut down all three of my offices that day. My supervisor would later reprimand me for that, but to this day I agree with my decision – sending people home was the right thing to do. There were more important things than business as usual.

    I spent the rest of my day driving home and calling around the family, trying to find out if anyone had heard from the cousin who’s office was in the World Trade Center, or the uncle whose office was in the Pentagon (both were found ok, thank God).

    I know from reading my history that the aftermath of December 7th included some things that our country is rightfully ashamed of, and continue to hope that we have learned something from that over-reaction…and fear that we have not.

    And now, as my cousin (the son of the uncle who was feared missing from the Pentagon) is in the middle of his seventh tour in the mid-East, I see the stories of the egocentric, histrionic Florida “pastor” who is willing to stir up an international hornet’s nest to get his five minutes of fame, I fear even more.

    But ultimately today is not about my cousin or the lunatic. It is about the average men and women whose day was impacted in a way they could never imagine – about the blind man in the North Tower who tried to send his dog away to save himself but who found that the dog wouldn’t go, and who ultimately both got out – about the men and women on Flight 93, who showed courage I could only hope to have – about the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way for others.

    I work with an organization that does critical incident response for emergency responders, and some of my guys responded to Ground Zero. They are normal people, no one you would notice if you passed them on the street.

    And they, and my cousin, are my heroes.

  23. Eridani@ #20 It sounds like you and I worked for very similar companies at the time. Mine did IT outsourcing (including support for a large number of WTC companies), and they seemed far more concerned with keeping employees in Manhattan for disaster recovery, than they did in protecting those employees. Not one of our techs who was ordered to stay that day worked for the company 1 year later.

  24. I remember laying in bed in my dorm room not wanting to get up for the day and someone walking in the door and saying that the Trade Center had been bombed

    Being glued to the tv for the next few hours, watching the second plane hit, skipping classes, finally leaving when I had to be at work and hearing about nothing else while there, calling my mom to find out what she knew about extended family and friends, a sense of the world changing

  25. I have a self-portrait that I did at once point that was a bit skewed, and I wondered once why I hadn’t fixed it. Then I looked at the date on it— September 10th, 2001. Ah.

    I’m a news junkie and at the time I was less than a year away from working at a news station with the wall of televisions and all.

    So the fact that I spent the entire day at work, getting news in dribs and drabs as customers came in*, and didn’t get a chance to see the news until after I took the bus home was one irony.

    The real irony, though, was that even then I didn’t get to see anything. I was staying with my in-laws while my husband was getting work in another state, and when I got home my MIL was emotionally traumatized. I sent her out of the room with the TV but she’d keep hearing things that would draw her back in. I finally flipped around until I found a Spanish-language channel and watched that. (My Spanish classes were more recent then.)

    Spanish coverage included, among other things, statistics on the building itself. This many windows, that many tons of steel. Noted and filed away in my head under the category of cultural differences.

    So while most people’s memories of the event are centered on the television screen, mine is about secondhand reactions— and there are a lot of things they’d stopped showing by the time I got home. Such as the falling angels.

    *I worked at a discount retail store across from a mall that they shut down for the day. It was a medium-ish city in an area where that was the largest thing going for several hours, so we had a number of customers who had come “up to the city” to do shopping— a not inconsiderable amount of planning— and were grateful that we, at least, were open.

  26. Part One: Was at work that day, a normal work day far from NYC actually in Austin, TX. Passed thru the lunch room on the way to a smoke break and noticed someone had a teevee on the lunch table showing the first building burning. Then the second plane hit. Numb. Beyond the point of shock and of course not much work got done that day, instead I seem to have discovered the blogoverse as the online news sources went down. Noticed the eerie lack of aircraft in the skies when I went outside.

    Part Two:Here are some words that I wish a lot more folks had seen a number of years ago when they were written. There was a recent repost which is where I found them again.

    I refuse(d) to be afraid of terrorists then & now and this is why:

    http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2009/12/reruns-wait-arent-you-scared.html

    Key paragraphs (but you really should click on the link):
    #1 …”FDR: Oh, I’m sorry, was wiping out our entire Pacific fleet supposed to intimidate us? We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and right now we’re coming to kick your ass with brand new destroyers riveted by waitresses. How’s that going to feel?

    CHURCHILL:
    Yeah, you keep bombing us. We’ll be in the pub, flipping you off. I’m slapping Rolls-Royce engines into untested flying coffins to knock you
    out of the skies, and then I’m sending angry Welshmen to burn your country from the Rhine to the Polish border.

    US. NOW:
    BE AFRAID!! Oh God, the Brown Bad people could strike any moment! They could strike … NOW!! AHHHH. Okay, how about .. NOW!! AAGAGAHAHAHHAG! Quick, do whatever we tell you, and believe whatever we tell you, or YOU
    WILL BE KILLED BY BROWN PEOPLE!! PUT DOWN THAT SIPPY CUP!!…”

    #2 “…Osama Bin Laden got everything on his Christmas list after 9/11 — US out of Saudi Arabia; the greatest military in the world over-extended, pinned down and distracted; the greatest proponent of democracy suddenly
    alienated from its allies; a US culture verily eager to destroy freedoms that little scumf*ck could never even dream to touch himself — I would like to deny him the last little check on the clipboard, i.e. constant terror. I panic, they win. To coin a phrase, Osama Bin Laden can suck my insouciance. …”

    no comment as I’m tempted to use bad words…

  27. I will ALWAYS remember both the victims of 9/11 and those who have given their lives fighting for the US overseas.

    I will continue to live my life with my wonderful Wife and Daughter and say to those who seek to terrorize us, “You will never win and you will never beat us.”

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