Saturday, September 11, 2004

We Will Never Forget

(Editor's Note: I tried to post a cleaned up edited version of this last night, but blogger was not cooperating. Perhaps I'll edit this later...or not)

It was a gorgeous early fall morning, much like today, clear blue skies and the first hint of fall in the air. The kids had started school, work was going well and life was good. My first anniversary as C.’s wife was almost a month away. I was happy and content. I had just gone from “summer hours” at work back to the regular fall/winter schedule, so I was on my way in a bit later than I had been in previous weeks. I was on the highway getting off at my exit, listening to Mancow Muller as I usually do in the morning.

All of a sudden Mancow stopped with the blue commentary and announced that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Of course my thoughts were of the poor Cessna pilot and I wondered if he had passed out or something similar. Why else would he have hit a building like that? Then Mancow talked about having a monitor on and watching the scene. About that time he and his “crew” started yelling about another plane hitting the second tower. For about 3 seconds I was horrified. Then I thought what a silly joke they were trying to pull off. It was like the “War of the Worlds” broadcast so many years ago. Cute. I decided to call my Dad when I got to my desk in the off chance that something was really happening. My father is retired and watches news channels on cable religiously. It was when he said, “Yes honey, it’s real,” that I felt a deeper confusion. It wasn’t horror at that point. That emotion came later.

My girlfriend Tricia and I went to the conference room and rigged up the television so that we could get a local channel. It was then that I got my first visual of the towers, on fire. Two separate airplanes had hit the World Trade Center. What the hell? People started to gather in the conference room. The thing that I remember the most was the silence as we all watched the news coverage. Silence was something that our office was unused to, especially when our team was gathered in the same room. It was eerie.

Watching the towers actually fall was something that bonded all of us together. It was surreal. The Twin Towers were actually toppling. That wasn’t supposed to happen. It was inconceivable. I remember standing there with tears streaming down my face. It’s rather interesting to me now, in retrospect that I wasn’t thinking about my extended family at that point. That came into my consciousness shortly after, though. My sister in law was pregnant with their first child. They lived on Staten Island and she was a public defender in the city. She worked close to the site. How was she? I had no idea. I couldn’t get a phone call through to my brother. The strike on the Pentagon made me angry. It was the crash in PA that really freaked me out. The news reports said that the plane went down close to Pittsburgh. C. has a lot of family in the Pittsburgh area. For a brief moment I remember feeling that this was a personal attack. WHY is this happening to my family? Silly now when I look back – to take it personally, but those feelings were real at the time.

Amazingly, my normally inhumane company allowed employees to go home if they wanted to. Of course, they only stopped their marketing calls (not my division) into NYC. Assholes. After many calls to my kid’s school I finally reached the school board. I wanted to know what, if anything, they were telling the children. I was assured that they were not being informed at all. C. and I decided to leave the kids where they were. We were confused, terrified, maybe a bit panicked and most definitely didn’t have any answers. We didn’t want to wrench them from their normal routine without being able to answer the questions they were sure to have. Did we make the correct decision? I think so now, but we certainly weren’t sure then. We were on autopilot.

They are smart kids. I’m sure I’ve said that before. If not, I apologize for the oversight. When C. and I were there together to pick them up, after seeing half of their classmates leave during the day, they knew something was up. We told them, honestly, and without much editorial. When we arrived home we turned on the television in the living room, and of course it was all over every channel. The Little One wasn’t too interested, which is a good thing in retrospect. She was still young and innocent. Why change that prematurely? She was 6. #1 Son had one question, “Are we safe Mommy?”

I feel so fortunate that I was confidently able to answer that question. I truly believed that we were. We live very near the largest Naval base in the world. If a plane attempted to enter our airspace, it would have been obliterated. No questions asked. In those uncertain hours after the attacks that was the one thing I was sure of.

In the aftermath, the irony of September 11, 2001 became clearer and clearer. My sister in law experienced some morning sickness that morning, something she had been plagued with. I think God for it. Because she was ill, she left for work later than she normally would have. That put her on a later ferry into the city. She was on the ferry when the first plane hit. The ferry operator instantly turned around carrying her safely home. We didn’t find out for several hours, but that was insignificant. She and my brother were safe. My nephew Luke arrived, on schedule, 7 months later.

It was a day later before I found out how tragic the day could have been for my family on a personal level. My cousin, an American Airline pilot, normally flew the Boston to L.A. route. That was his plane that rammed the tower. He was off that day. His brother, also my cousin, is a “big wig” in finance. He had a meeting in L.A. that afternoon. He was scheduled to fly on Flight 11. That morning he got word that his meeting was being pushed back to late afternoon, so he had his secretary purchase a ticket on a later flight.

I was going to post a “tribute,” thank you, etc. here. But a favorite blogger has posted an amazing post. It’s far more than I could ever say. Please check out Jay’s page at


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Name: Cattiva
Location: Virginia, United States

About Me: I'm the mom of three: #1 Son (20), The Princess of Wails (17) and their baby brother - The Baby (6). I was a grad-student working on an MA in history until we were surprised - I mean blessed - with The Baby. I'll get back to it...someday (the thesis, not the kid - I have no choice concerning the kid). I am one of only a few people I went to school with who is actually using their history degree in my career (and to think my Father called it Basket-weaving!). I live a very hectic life amongst massive clutter. I call it a good day if we have managed to get home at night without losing one of the kids (no matter how hard I try!). Friends say I have a humorous take on life's happenings. The sad part is that what I write about is true. I laugh to keep from crying.

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