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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where were you?

This is the third September 11th that has passed since I started blogging. But this is the first time I've talked here about the events of that day.

I don't have a personal connection to the horrors that took place at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon or in a field in Pennsylvania. Like many Americans, my connection to the day is the memory of where I was, what I was doing, when the images first started rolling across the television screen.

I was home with Charlie, who was just a little over a year old. Mike was on his way to take Annie to preschool. We'd seen the first tower struck before he left, but at that point no one realized it had been a deliberate act. When the second tower was hit, I called to tell him. He was on his way to the office, but came back home to watch. We sat in front of the TV in the basement, unable to wrap our brains around what was happening.

After an hour or so, I got in the car and went to pick up Annie early from school. I wasn't afraid that she was in any danger, but the thought that something might happen and we would be separated for an extended period of time was more than I could handle. I went to Mass that evening and we all slept in the same bed that night. I remember how eerie it seemed that the skies were quiet and void of planes for several days following the attacks.

I took in as much of the news footage as I could handle over the days and weeks. My father-in-law put together a "go" bag for us with emergency supplies that we could grab in the event of another catastrophic event. I stocked up on baby formula and diapers and bottled water and rolls of plastic, though Mike kept insisting it was unnecessary.

I don't know when -- I don't think it was very long --  but life got back to normal. We took a pre-planned vacation to Disney World that December and remarked how un-crowded it was because people were still leery of traveling.


The first anniversary of 9/11 came. I watch the news programs, read the magazines, that commemorated the event, but moved on within a week of so. Then the second and subsequent anniversaries. I don't really remember them. And now today, it's the 9th anniversary of the attacks on the U.S. There were numerous festivals in Indianapolis today -- the Greekfest, an art fair, a village market fair, a French market. And I'm sure a few memorials as well, though none publicized as well as the celebratory events.

And maybe being celebratory is an observance in and of itself. That the U.S. will not cower in fear, that our spirit will not be broken. I watched a 9/11 documentary called "The Falling Man" on YouTube, but I didn't talk to my kids about the day.

But I did find myself wondering about how those directly affected by the tragedy spent the day. Those who lost loved ones or who were involved in the clean up efforts. I imagined that it might be something (on a much larger and more painful scale) like we experienced just after Charlie was born.

He had been home from the hospital for 48 hours. A nurse came to check on him and me and noticed his color was a little too orange. Long story short, he had severe jaundice. We had to take him directly to the NICU, sign releases for transfusions and hear all the bleak things doctors have to tell you when someone you love is very sick. Later that night, Mike and I went to dinner and were numb. We remarked about how strange it was that the whole world was going on around us while ours had stopped. That no one realized what we were feeling inside. I remember it feeling as though I were in a bubble.

And so today, I wondered if that's how the 9/11 survivors feel -- now 9 years later. Did they look around at the people going to festivals and the laundromat and out to dinner and wonder how could they be doing such "normal" things? Did they think to themselves that their world had come to its annual halt and how could others be approaching and moving through the day so emotionally unencumbered?

Was today a day of overwhelming sadness? Or is it hard to distinguish the sadness of today from the sadness and grief they feel on any other day without their loved one? I wondered if I did a disservice to the memories of their loved ones by not making a more formal observance of the day.

Did you mark the 9th anniversary of the attacks in some special and deliberate way?  Where were you nine years ago when the world, at least momentarily, stopped turning?

9 comments:

kimybeee said...

We live in WV, so it was a little more real living so close to where these things happened. Many people saw the planes flying low that did the actual damage. My husband and I had a rare day together. He was working midnights at the time and we were together to go pick his deer head up from the taxidermist. His mom had loaned a deer had of his dad's to a vice principal at her high school, so we decided to go pick it up as well to add to our dead critter count that day.

When we pulled into the high school, the security guard was asking us if we could believe what was happening? Something minor and insignificant must have gone on at the same time, because we didn't know why he was making such a big deal of things. By the time we reached Jeff's mom's classroom, she had the tv on and we watched the first tower fall with her classroom of horrified kids. We went on about our business there and went home quickly. I was very upset, my husband, not so much. To him it was too far away to worry. I went on to the elementary school and hung around in the office for a little while trying to decide what to do. As the parents kept filing in to get their kids, I decided to take mine and go home too - they were in 2nd grade and kindergarten, so they really didn't understand what the big deal was either.

One of the silliest things about the day was that Sears called to tell us that our washer and dryer was in that we had bought. Our daily lives had been havoc, cause one of them had quit working and my husband was just going about our business as usual that day and I pulled myself away from the tv coverage long enough for us to go pick them up. I have had two additional dryers since then, but still using my 9/11 washer!!

We live in what is called the chemical valley, so we were in danger because of all the chemical plants and coal fields in our area. My husband works for a company that makes alloys and metals and their biggest business is the military and government - but he went to work anyway and left me home alone freakin' out.

The scariest part of the whole day was that my cousin,s (and next door neighbor, like a brother) wife was in houston for work. She worked for what was Shell oil at the time and when all this happened, they told them to get out of the building and get as far away from there as they could. Of course their hotel was connected to all of these important oil company buildings and she said the fighter jets were all over the place there. When they told them this they still had airplanes in the air and a few unaccounted for. My cousin's wife and her pregnant co-worker from here couldn't get a car or anything out of houston so my cousin and the so-worker's husband got in the car and went to houston and got them in record time. He said that they were going so fast to get there and they weren't even passing any cops. They made some kind of crazy time to houston and back to bring them home.

Today we went to a 4-H recognition dinner at 4pm and we observed a moment of silence for the 9/11 disaster and the military people serving to keep us safe. Then this evening we went to our (same high school as 9/11) kid's high school for a football game. The county just put new turf on the football field and they dedicated the field to first responder's in the area and observed a moment of silence there to remember.

So there you have it, my remembrances include taxidermied deer heads and washer & dryer pairs, anger toward my bonehead husband and lots of fear! I can remember turning to my husband when he said it was too far away to bother us and asking him if he realized how many people were gonna die in those buildings? This is the same guy that talks with martians through our tv!

Eternal Lizdom said...

I blogged about my experience yesterday, as you know.

Jeff and I watched the re-airing of the live coverage on MSNBC yesterday morning. The kids were mostly playing in their bedrooms. I didn't want Teagan to see it. But she did. And she asked questions about what was happening. And I answered as simply as I could without overwhelming her with the full truth. It happened 9 years ago and it was very sad. Some buildings in New York fell down. It was 9 years ago and it was very sad and we want to remember what happened so we watch this show and that's why those people are on the overpass over I-69 with their American flags.

When I went to bed, I watched the History channel- they had been airing various documentaries on 9/11 all day. I hate the images that are burned in my head but, at the same time, watching them again as I did on that actual day... it feels right to revisit it.

Sharon said...

I was a senior in college, taking a quiz in a Science class. I lived off campus, and immediately after the class my roommates & I were glued to the tv. A prayer vigil was held that night.
While I didn't know anyone personally involved, either, for me, it was significant because it was the first time in my own life I was old enough to remember such an "act of war". Such an eye opener for my generation.

My husband and I were seriously dating at that time, and he was in Austria for the semester, studying abroad. I was so scared when I couldn't reach him at first.

My brother called ME all panicked, hearing of the PA crash. That plane flew practically over our college campus, and we often went into PA for things. He knew this, and I'll never forget his message that day.

No matter how many years it's been, recalling it will always give me goosebumps and bring tears to my eyes.
And I think it should.

Sharon said...
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Beth Zimmerman said...

I wrote a brief post about it but find many, including yours, to be more thoughtful and respectful of those who lost so much!

I was inconvenienced by 9/11 because it stranded me far from home. But that was a tiny problem compared to what so many suffered and continue to suffer.

Yesterday we watched some news and some History Channel but mostly didn't think so much about 9 years ago.

Beth Zimmerman said...

I wrote a brief post about it but find many, including yours, to be more thoughtful and respectful of those who lost so much!

I was inconvenienced by 9/11 because it stranded me far from home. But that was a tiny problem compared to what so many suffered and continue to suffer.

Yesterday we watched some news and some History Channel but mostly didn't think so much about 9 years ago.

Nate's Mom said...

I too remember the day very clearly. It was 5am in California when the first plane hit. About 6, my dad called our house in a panic and "They bombed the pentagon!" I will never forget his words. My husband was in the Navy reserves, and his term ended on Aug 31, 2001. My dad was concerned that he would be called up, not knowing that his term was up. However, he could have still been called up if needed, since he was so recently trained.

After watching the replays many times, I had to go to work. I was teaching preschool then. For the next several weeks, I watched 4 years fly plastic airplanes into stacks of blocks and know them down. I think that was the hardest thing for me. We spent a lot of time processing what they were all seeing on TV. It was surreal.

Yesterday was a quiet day for us. The kids were at their grandparents. We watch some of the documentaries and the rememberances. I was impressed that there was political coverage at each site of impact.

I think the thing that most effected me this year was the pastore that wanted to burns Qurans. I had been praying that he would not go through with that plan. I was happy that he changed his mind, but still sad that he felt the need to commorate that anniversary this way. It has been a surreal kind of day again.

I think 9/11 will forever be etched in my mind and my heart.

Sheri in CA

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hotmess10 said...

I was driving into work when I heard reports that the first plane had crashed. I was at work when I heard that the second plane had crashed. Oddly enough, I was getting my info from the Howard Stern show I had playing on my radio. As a Canadian, I was fearful that something bigger was going to happen and that Canada would somehow take a "hit" b/c we're so close to the US.

Went home for lunch and watched as many news reports as I can. I remember feeling ill to my stomach and absolute agony thinking about "the falling man" (I had seen that clip) and all the people and families involved.

I couldn't get over the magnitude of the destruction. All I could think about was what those poor people were thinking as their lives flashed right before their eyes. :(