Today marks ten years since four airplanes changed our world view and how many of us live. I’ve avoided most of the news coverage of this unpleasant anniversary. By choice. And I will continue to do so until Monday. I don’t have much to say currently. I plan on quiet internal reflection and spending this day with people I love.
The post below was originally written on September 11, 2010:
September 11, 2001. A date burned into most Americans’ consciences and one where I bet you can tell me where you were and what you were doing. I can tell you. I was watching the Today Show and Matt Lauer was interviewing Tracey Ullman, when video started coming in about a plane crashing into one of the World Trade Center towers in NYC. “Oh that’s awful,” I thought as I went to work at the local Girl Scout Council. As the morning wore on, more shocking and horrible news came in. Another plane had hit the other World Trade Center tower and a plane plowed into the Pentagon. Music was no longer being played on radio stations. The State of Delaware went into a state of emergency requesting schools and businesses close. Information was limited. People were concerned and frankly down right scared. Before, we all went home, we gathered around in a friendship circle, a Girl Scout tradition, where we had a moment of silence to reflect or pray as colleagues and friends, and we held hands tightly. I didn’t go the straight home, but volunteered to help run the board at the University of Delaware’s radio station, WVUD, where I hosted a show. I don’t know how long I stayed making sure the AP feed came through. By the time I got home, I was numb. I didn’t see the horrific footage of the towers falling until the next day. I just remember how quiet the world seemed. An unsettling quiet of uncertainty. As the facts started to unfold, I was shocked and angry. I was angry with the people who did the act and took part in the planning.I was not angry at a religion or at a region.
Fast forward less than a month. My husband had a conference in NYC and I tagged along with him. There was talk of canceling the conference and I’m glad the organizers went ahead with it. People came in from around the country and the world. We took the train up from Wilmington to Penn Station. I always sit on the right side of the train heading to New York for I think the views are better. As we came to the view of NYC, there was a smoking, gaping hole in the skyline. It was starting to sink in that the World Trade Center was gone.
We stayed at a small hotel on 57th Street. A ride in the elevator has stuck in my mind all this time. We were going up to our room and were joined by a priest about our age. He was wearing coveralls, but I could see his collar. He had been at Ground Zero. He looked drained and covered in dust. In hands, he clutched a bag from the Hard Rock Cafe containing drum sticks. We didn’t talk. As part of the conference, there was an early morning walking tour of lower Manhattan. We took the subway there. Our fellow riders were rescue workers and police with machine guns. It was surreal. It got more so when we came out of the Fulton Street subway station. Everything was covered in dust. There were shells of buildings as we looked down the street. Ground Zero was still smoking. The smell has stuck with me. It was a sickening smell and with all my skills of using words, I can’t even describe it. All I know is that I don’t want to ever smell it again.
NYC felt different as we walked around the city. I felt different. I become more aware.
Sometimes it isn’t the event that stays with you but the aftermath.