What were you doing on 9/11 when the Twin Towers were struck, and how did you first hear the news? Whom did you know that died? How do you mark the anniversary? Let's explore those dark days together.
Photo collage from Wikimedia Commons
Derivative work of the following:
Assembled by UpstateNYer
On that famously sunny and mild morning, I was at 9a Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church, in Astoria, in Queens. As the Mass was ending, a middle-aged woman, a regular at the Mass and a eucharistic minister, took the podium and asked us all to intone several prayers as a congregation, before we parted ways, saying that the media is reporting that a plane struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center. I then headed to my apartment and called my Dad, as I knew he'd be home watching news reports, to get the low down. He told me what he'd been hearing and seeing on TV. I turned on my set and watched, agog, like I was watching some kind of movie, mystified as to how this could happen. Suddenly, the World Trade Center, about five miles away, seemed completely unreachable, on another dimension, and so it would remain. What shattered within me -- a naivete about the transcendent goodness in every human being. I struggle every day to regain that.
Just got back from another 9/11 Mass, 12 years on. The take-away from today's homily (at Holy Spirit Church in New Hyde Park): God doesn't remove evil from our midst. It is up to each of us to transform it into good! I think I finally get this!
I remember all the phone calls coming in from Ireland with people asking if we were ok. It all seemed unreal, like watching a movie set. I remember thinking that it's going to be a different world for my kids.
I was engaged in providing psychotherapy to a client, when a distressed young woman delivered stationery to my Secretary, and informed us of the tragedy of 9/11 about which she had heard on her car radio. The enormity of the disaster was almost impossible to comprehend from so far away, in South Africa; but in the days, weeks and months to come, the media provided visual confirmation of the horror, extent of loss of life and effects on the bereaved survivors. Indeed suffering and anxiety of the entire New York City community and the USA as a whole touched our hearts. I have ingrained in my mind, the often repeated television coverage of the immense amount of paper, debris, and tragically, people jumping to their deaths from the Twin Towers.
The subsequent anecdotes of the bravery of the many Firemen, rescuers, the rescue dogs and lost pets, and above all, the survivors are bitter sweet. I have drawn comfort from Ger Regan's insights gained from the essence of the homily at the Holy Spirit in New York, which bears repeated reading.
In Australia it was a lovely spring evening and my hubby had just made a beautiful satay. We were enjoying a glass of red on our back veranda and decided to go inside. I came behind him chattering away as I do and never really noticed he was standing frozen in front of the television. All he said was "Babe" and put his hand up. We stood in front of the television in silence for a few minutes and then watched the whole thing live in between nervously getting up and pacing around. All I remember was a couple of phrases like "What is going on?" and "F%ck! There's another one" We were in shock and couldn't really speak. My mind raced as I sat glued to the television. I went to check on our baby Liam who was nearly one year old. I cried and felt so angry and sad. What have I brought my child into? Why would I bring him into a world like this? Is this world war 3? What future does he have now? Even though it was late I called some of my family. They were awake too. I really don't remember the words that were spoken, but thats shock for you. I was on the other side of the planet and can only imagine the fear and grief that was felt by those close to this horrible event.
i landed at shannon that morning and as i drove toward Cobh on really secondary routes i heard on the radio about a plane striking the tower. of course i assumed it was a small private plane flown by a doofus and stopped listening. several hours later i stopped for a coffee. the tv in the bar showed film of the second plane striking the building and the pandemonium sweeping manhattan. "are we gonna be at war? is this the second coming of pearl harbor? what the fook?"
i was in eire for two weeks and people could not have been kinder to this american. coincidentally my son was doing a semester at dublin college and interning at the dail. we spent only a few days together and i drove throughout the land. one of my first reactions was "i'm gonna take a boat home". since it was the beginning of my visit i was not affected by the grounding of flights.
everywhere people were offering prayers and condolences. i remember seeing a newspaper picture in dingle of what appeared to be bin ladn's countenance appearing in the smoke rising from one of the towers. funny how that image has stuck with me all these years.
being away from your homeland when a tragedy like that happens is really discomfitting. i was born in brooklyn and i felt there but for the grace o'..........
went to a memorial mass in dingle with the proprietress of the excalibur house. in dublin my son and i visited the floral memorials left at the embassy. God bless the souls lost. let us not forget those in the pentagon and the fields of pennsylvania.
Touching recollection, Bill, being adrift from your homeland in this time of immense crisis. My sweetheart, Mary Grady, was in California, heading to Australia, on 9/11. Never got there, of course, not on that occasion.
At 5 am on that September morn, Tucson time, I had wished my mother & father a safe flight home. They were flying in from Canada. I went in to my kitchen, turned on the coffee and went in to shower and get ready for my shift. AT 5:55, Tucson time, as I was strapping in to my body armor and shrugging in to my uniform, I simultaneously clicked on the television news and answered a call from my cousin He was calling to tell me about the first plane. We watched in horror as the 2nd struck.
As I watched the attacks, I suddenly realized the day and whispered a prayer for my cousin who lives and works in New York. Every Wednesday, his boss hosts a breakfast meeting in the sky restaurant atop the WTC. Luckily, on that morning, his boss woke up and said "I don't feel like commuting in today" and had the meeting moved. Of course nobody in the family knew that so a tense day was had all around.
My parents' flight was turned around as they entered US airspace. Asthey taxied to the gate at Pearson, my father's first call was back home to me. His words when I answered still make me pause, "Who bombed what?" They would spend an extra week in Barrie before finally grabbing a flight home.
What did I lose that day? What shattered? My profound sense of security within these borders.
What did I gain? I gained a better perspective of what others suffer through in war ravaged and weary countries where terrorism is the norm.
I also gained, sadly, in the ensuing months, a growing distrust in our own government.
I also miss the kindness that seemed to emanate out, the coming together as a common force. That has been replaced, once again, with hatred & violence
Tiff, go raibh maith agat for sharing this. Were you in law enforcement back in the day?
That was Bit! :) No law enforcement for me!
Yes, I was in Patrol here in Tucson for nine years...wish I was still
Tiff...we all look alike in print... LOL
I never tire of these poignant stories. I only wish more of our fellow members would share theirs, particularly those who are or were abroad at the time.