I don't often choose to go back to this day. The feeling of helplessness and overwhelming grief that went on for months sometimes feels like a lifetime ago yet when I think back I can remember everything. This post is in trIbute to never forgetting the pain and loss NYC felt that day.
I didn't think I'd mention 9/11 but here I am doing it. I was out the other night and seeing the beams of light shooting through the sky from the 9/11 memorial completely surprised me. I had forgotten about 9/11.
As everyone who was in NYC on that day and the months that followed it is almost unfathomable to think that time has dulled the memories of that day. Everyone has a story about where they were. Me? I was on my way to my job in Queens. I didn't listen to the radio that morning and actually left the house after the first plane hit. I had a car at the time and was headed toward the BQE. I did notice lots of people looking in the air and I had to keep pulling over to let fire trucks go by. When I think that most of those guys didn't make the return trip home I still get choked up.
My husband at the time was working at 4 World Trade Center. He was in the area early that morning and was ironically killing time at Record Explosion on Broadway. He heard the first plane hit and everyone around him assumed that the World Trade Center got bombed again. Rather than walk away from the scene, he walked toward it. You have to remember if you were there you had no clue as to what was going on. He looked up and watched what transpired from in front of Century 21 on Church St. He saw the people jumping, he heard the building groan and then he said it felt like a giant oven opening and everything went black and then white and he started to run. I didn't know if he was OK until almost 1:00 PM. He actually got home before me, by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, from there he saw the towers fall, he said everybody was dead silent.
I only made it to Greenpoint that morning and I saw the building with the gaping hole and the smoke pouring out but I didn't see it come down. I was listening to 1010 WINS and heard the hysterical announcement that the first tower had collapsed. The streets of Brooklyn were chaotic, everyone trying to get home. I remember pulling over and I actually vomited, thinking about all the people in the building. I was frantically trying to call my husband but could not get through. I remember crossing 3rd Avenue and seeing the streams of people who had walked from Manhattan, the office women carrying their high heeled shoes. It was like a science fiction movie.
Everyone in my building got together to listen to the news in shock. No television. Our transmitter was on top of the World Trade Center. We were relieved to learn that any firemen and people we knew who worked there were alive. My husband’s 2-way radio that he used for work was alive with coworkers checking to see if he was all right. It took a long time for him to tell anyone what he experienced. He said he didn't want to talk about it "out of respect for the dead".
The next night I remember seeing the first candle burning in the area in front of the Gowanus Yacht Club and then the first "Missing" poster at the same spot. In a very short time there were hundreds of candles and hundreds of fliers.
I've heard people say that 9/11 memorials should be put to rest, that they are a symbol of the war we are now in. Not for me, those beams of light are a very simple and elegant way of remembering the people who didn't make it home that day.