On this day every year since starting my blog, I share my thoughts from and about September 11, 2001, so that we never forget.
Twenty years. I can’t believe it’s now 20 years ago. It still feels like yesterday to me but it’s been 20 YEARS.
In last year’s post, I wrote about how I felt that the foreign terrorists were laughing at the terrible behavior within our country from those rioting and looting, with movements to defund the police. And now this year, terrorists are visibly laughing (have you seen them on the news laughing?) at what has taken place over the last month in Afghanistan. As the Taliban takes back control of that country, I hope and pray that terrorists are limited to just laughing, not capable of planning and carrying out attacks on innocent people and our freedom ever again.
I cannot even believe it’s September 11 again. 20 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 Walt Whitman 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 seriously still cannot comprehend such a concept.
I often think about September 10, 2001, before it all happened. When life was innocent.
When I went to Roosevelt Field mall 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 person over there was suspicious.
When you didn’t think about terrorists as you walked around the city or needing to take your shoes off in the airport, or even 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. What’s so interesting about my recollection of the weather is that EVERYONE still speaks about the weather that day. I vividly remember taking note of the weather – I was stopped at a light on Stewart Avenue in Garden City and I looked up at the sky through my open sun roof around 8:20 AM and thought to myself – it’s unusually beautiful today.
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 in the city skyline 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 by 10:00 AM. I remember driving home with my sunroof closed, truly afraid something would fall out of the sky. As if my sunroof being closed would save me.
I remember eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich 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 frozen on the floor of the den, in disbelief, 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 the local phone lines weren’t working well and calls weren’t going through.
To put things in perspective, I had a Startac cell 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 for the night because she was stranded on Long Island. The bridges and tunnels were all shut down which meant she could not get home to the city. She was working (or was it interning?) on Long Island at that time.
I remember going with Amy to get my mother a birthday cake that night from TCBY, the only store open in the area. The town was basically deserted. All of the stores were closed and no one was on the road. We also baked cookies to pass the time.
I barely slept at night for weeks because of the news coverage on the television all night long of people looking for their missing loved ones. I wanted to turn it off but I couldn’t turn it off.
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 at home 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 escaped and 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 watched 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.
Nine 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.
Over the last few years, I do spend more time downtown in lower Manhattan than I have in my whole life. It’s a very weird experience and feeling for me literally every time.
I can’t help but think about September 11 each and every time I’m downtown. I have flashes of what I remember from that day as well as replay the news clips that I have seen (which I’ve seen over and over because I drown myself in the coverage to learn everything I can from survivor stories) of what took place on the very streets I’m walking. It’s eery to walk those same streets.
I have a level of guilt for being this freaked out when I’m downtown because I wasn’t physically in that area of Manhattan on that tragic day twenty years ago. It wasn’t me who had to escape and it wasn’t my immediate family. But I was born in the city and raised in New York, and have lived here my entire life. I am an American. And I’m human – how can you not be seriously affected by what happened to others? To New York? To the Pentagon? To our country?
The Freedom Tower freaks me out, even though we should be proud to see the recovery brought to life. I walk around the entire area, see the 9-11 Memorial and Museum, and go to the Westfield mall often but I won’t go inside the tower. I can’t do it.
Incredibly, I do have a close inside glimpse 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. My relationship has been long-distance for the last year because of it and saying I support him 200% for being the person he is such an understatement. He is capable of situations most can’t even imagine, including myself, although I try to grasp it. It’s surreal to me at times, scary a bit too, yet I’m just so proud.
We are lucky to have people serving in our country who are brave enough to risk their lives (and dedicate their entire being) to fighting for our safety and freedom to protect us — 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.