September 11: Never Forget

 

Long-time readers probably remember that every year on this day, I share an updated version of my original Never Forget post.

I cannot even believe it’s September 11 again. 18 years later and I still don’t forget where I was and how the tragic events of that day have changed our lives forever.

I see the below monument outside of my local mall on a weekly basis. Close to 500 people from my area alone, died on September 11, 2001.

Even as I write this post year after year, I still can’t comprehend such a concept.

september 11

I often think about September 10, 2001, before it all happened. When life was innocent.

When I went to Roosevelt Field mall (yes, I like malls) to find my mother a birthday gift during my lunch break. Her birthday was the next day, September 11. Happy Birthday mom!

When you didn’t really look around you in the mall, worrying about where the emergency exits were or if the man over there was suspicious.

When you didn’t think about terrorists or taking your shoes off in the airport, or consider that maybe your peanut butter would somehow count as a liquid on an airplane.

It was the year of my engagement, two months before my wedding day, and just a few weeks before my bridal shower.

I remember driving to work the morning of September 11, 2001, in the gorgeous morning sunshine. My sunroof was open. I recall taking note of the bright blue sky and crisp Autumn-like air.

My office was about 30 minutes outside of Manhattan.

I remember being at my desk before 9:00 am. I am always early.

I’ll never forget my coworker walking in, asking if anyone else had heard about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.

Once I heard the news, I remember calling my fiancé (that’s who my now ex-husband was at the time) while he was driving to work. He answered while shouting about what he was witnessing from the Long Island Expressway just a few exits from the midtown tunnel.

My coworkers and I gathered around, listening to a radio and watching news coverage on one small television.

We were sent home for the day before 11:00 am. I remember driving home with my sunroof closed, totally afraid something would fall out of the sky.

I remember eating my peanut butter and jelly with an apple for lunch as I watched the horrific news coverage on the television. I still lived at home, home as in with my parents.

I sat there watching the news coverage while talking to my best friend Heather on the phone since she was also sent home for the day from work down in Florida. Her uncle worked in the Pentagon but he was okay.

I remember trying to reach friends and family in the city but phone calls to the city were not going through very well at all.

To put things in perspective, I had a Startac phone without caller ID. There was nothing smart about my phone other than offering me call-waiting.

My cousin, Amy, ended up at our house since she was stranded on Long Island. The bridges and tunnels were all shut down which meant she could not get back home to the city. She was working (or was it interning?) on the island at that time.

I remember going with Amy to get my mother a birthday cake that night from TCBY, the only store opened in the area. The town was basically deserted. All of the stores were closed and no one was on the road.

I remember barely sleeping at night for weeks because of the news coverage on television all night long of people looking for their missing loved ones.

I remember being afraid to leave the house in the dark, especially in the morning before work when I would normally go to the gym.

I chose the treadmill in the basement most mornings during this time, where I felt safe.

I remember hearing about friends of mine who lost their parents, relatives, and close friends at the World Trade Center as well as learning about those close to me who survived.

I will never forget how afraid I was to go to my aunt’s apartment in the city to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, only a week later. I was afraid to go over the Triboro bridge and afraid to get out of the car when we parked on Lexington Avenue.

I remember the scent of lower Manhattan on November 1, when I had no choice but to be downtown for a meeting. The burning smell was still so strong — it was a reminder of what we were living through.

I recall the one year anniversary of September 11. It was terribly upsetting.

One of my co-workers brought munchkins to the office (not to celebrate but more as an emotional eating session) which we ate as we sat for a while, with a lot of us crying.

As the years keep passing, I don’t forget.

On September 11, 2003, I was nine months pregnant. I recall watching the 9/11 news coverage all morning before meeting my realtor to pick up the keys to our new house.

On September 11, 2006, I watched the news coverage as I tried to get my son ready for his first day of preschool. A total disaster of a day – he cried the entire four hours of school and I cried listening to him cry as I sat in the preschool office unable to leave the building.

Seven years ago today I left a part-time job in event planning to go off on my own to explore a new direction in health, fitness, and freelance writing (which ultimately brought me back to the event industry). It really couldn’t have been a happier time and major turning point in my life yet at the same time, I didn’t forget and will never forget.

Nowadays, I do spend more time downtown in lower Manhattan than I have in my whole life. It’s weird for me. I can’t help but think about September 11 each and every time I’m there. I have flashes of what I remember from that day as well as replay the news clips that I have seen of what took place on those very streets. It’s eery. The Freedom Tower freaks me out too, even though we should be proud to see the recovery brought to life.

freedom tower

Interestingly enough, I do have an extremely close inside glimpse (vague, I know, but best I can do to explain) into how fighting terrorism LITERALLY takes over the lives of the select people in our country who spend 24/7 seeking intelligence to hunt down the terrorists who look to attack again. We are lucky to have people in our country who are brave enough to risk their lives (and dedicate their entire being) to fighting for our safety and freedom — because that’s truly what it takes, even all these years later, to continue to prevent such tragedies from happening again.

May we never forget.

 

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Comments

  1. Sarah says

    I spent the years 2013-2016 commuting to Brooklyn from Westchester, often driving through lower Manhattan to get there. Every time, I could not help but to think of September 11th. Looking up at the Freedom Tower which, while beautiful, is a momental reminder of this tragedy. It feels just as raw to me now as it always has, and I think it always will. The church bells a mile down the road from my house chimed at the times the planes struck the buildings yesterday morning as I was out on my front porch looking at the beautiful blue sky and talking to my Mom. I commented how the weather was very similar to the weather on September 11, 2001. Listening to the bells, knowing what they signified and thinking of all those who lost their lives, the tears sprung to my eyes as if no time had passed. There were my 21 years of life before September 11th and now my 18 years of life hereafter. Innocence lost forever. Perspective changed forever. Thank you for writing this post every year. May we never forget.

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