I've just spent the better part of my evening watching specials on 9/11. I've watched multiple programs showing the second plane hitting the south tower, the collapse, the panic and how not only did the skyline of NYC change, but so did the skyline of our lives.
At the time, I was unemployed. I was still drawing unemployment, as the galleries that I had worked for closed in early summer. I had worked for them as far into the closing as I could, then I was out to find a job. I had found one, at the place that I currently work, but was due to start September 17, 2001.
I was home, going stir crazy and cleaning my home to the point of being able to eat off my floor. I flicked the news on, as I generally did when I ate breakfast, and I saw the NYC skyline with smoke. I heard Katie Couric's voice. At that point, it was assumed that the building was struck on accident. I had been talking to my mother-in-law on the phone.
Then the second plane came.
It was no accident.
Then the Pentagon.
I watched news over the next week to the point where I was in panic attacks. I couldn't sleep without seeing planes falling from the sky. I had to turn the TV off altogether.
I remember when everything happened, the sky became silent. It seems like a dumb thing to say, as everyone knew that. Here, we are three blocks from a small airport, and depending upon the weather, in the circling pattern of a more major airport.
If planes kept hitting buildings, what was next?
I recall going to Drug Mart up the street to fill up bottles of water. It seemed like a dumb thing to do, but someone somewhere (the news or by instruction from someone parental) told me to go stock up on water. Our water supply would certainly be compromised.
When I turned the TV back on, there were erector set piles of buildings with trapped people. There were messages left behind for their families. There were people on planes talking to family as their plane barreled into the south tower.
I felt sorry for us. I knew that there were people who lost friends and family. I knew that there were emergency service personnel that went in to do what they signed up to do and never came out. I knew that there were people -- a lot of them -- that helped each other get out of the towers. These people, as the whole nation, but these people more so would be permanently damaged. They saw things and experienced situations that no one could even guess. Though they were able to triumph over a building that would soon be a grave for many, images are permanently seared into their brains. What they went through during their exit breaks my heart.
There was such a loss of innocence on that day. No longer would we allow planes to simply fly overhead. If a plane made a weird noise or was flying lower than what I suspect would be cruising altitude, we instantly became suspect.
I felt sorry for the children, born and unborn, that miss the opportunity to know these great people.
I feel bad that we are no longer able to live a life with trust for everyone. To travel by air used to be a quick way to go. Because there were people who decided to use air craft as missiles, we must tack at least an hour and a half to our airport wait time. I don't mention this to solicit a "feel sorry for us" response. I simply state this because this is another confirmation that we've lost innocence. Someone can't be absent minded and forget anything behind in an airport. To do so will bring bomb dogs out and federal charges. We now must remove our shoes, because if 9/11 wasn't scary enough, someone decided that they were going to try to take a plane down with explosives in his shoes.
My grandmother had been visiting my sister and was stranded at her house, about 3 hours away from Shanksville. Cousins who had just married the week previous were on their honeymoon and were stranded out somewhere near Grand Cayman. Neither one could get back home.
I remember driving down Mayfield Road near Cleveland, and there were firefighters standing in the middle of the road with boots. They were going car to car collecting donations for the victims of 9/11.
Previous to 9/11, I felt safe. Hubs and I were planning a family, but that day everything for us stopped. Why would we want to add children to a world that we didn't even feel safe to live in? Here I was beginning a new job and we needed to purchase a car for me to get there. We had shared a car for a year and a half, but since I lost my job that was just down the road from where Hubs worked, the option of driving to work together was no longer there. Did we feel safe enough to spend that money?
Fast forward to today. When we visited NYC this past fall, we were returning from Battery Park where we had gotten off of the Statue of Liberty ferry. Our cab, no surprise, was flying down the road on the way back to our hotel so that we could change and go to Times Square to see Mary Poppins. Suddenly, my sister-in-law asked the cab driver, "Is that Ground Zero?"
There was chain link fence up and heavy equipment. Never in a million years would I have picked that place out to be Ground Zero. It looked like a construction site and not like a place where thousands of people lost their life. Maybe it was because there was nothing that marked the importance of the site to people who didn't know.
I felt so dumb not to know.
I'm so sorry that I have to explain terrorism to her.
I'm so sorry that I have to explain the loss of life to her.
I'm so sorry that I have to tell her how many people raced into the building to save people, didn't come out.
I'm so sorry that I have to tell her that Aunt Kristin and Uncle Tom lost a friend that day.
I'm so sorry that I have to tell her that we had a war with people over this, the big bad guy who was a head of the bad people who did this is now gone, but more bad people are still out there. Bad people who then killed more people in war.
We'll never forget. We shouldn't. We can't. Not one shred of it or any of the lives that were taken or affected.