Frontline Mom
September 11

Remembering September 11th

September 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

September 11, 2011. Ten years later. Like so many I will never forget the day my world changed – the senseless loss of so many lives, the fear that ensued and the long term implications of an event that though it occurred a decade ago, in many ways seems like yesterday.

Since September 11th, I have moved back from living overseas with my husband, had two wonderful children, now four and 18 months, moved up in my career, bought my first home and all in all had a wonderful decade. Yet, like so many I never forget what happened on that dark day. The past few weeks I have read so many stories about children, parents, spouses, coworkers and others who lost their friends and loved ones..and how they have rebuilt their lives. Though ten years have passed, I still found myself tearing up and having at times to put down the newspaper or walk away from the computer. Their stories of strength and courage, while encouraging and enlightening, reminded me of what shouldn’t have to have been.

While watching TV the other night where CNN was airing footage of 9/11, my four year asked me “Mommy, why is New York City smoking up?” I honestly was speechless, not really knowing what to say, though saddened that I would need to explain this to her, just as my own Mom needed to tell me about other national tragedies she remembered like the assassination of JFK.

Like so many others, I remember where I was the moment the tragedy unfolded – and the emotions that transpired when the reality of what had happened set in. The morning of September 11th I arrived in Chicago O’Hare from Brazil (where I lived at the time) en route to Canada for a business trip. After a layover in the business lounge, I boarded my plane, jet lagged but otherwise just fine. Within moments of settling in on the plane, the men next to me started talking up how a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. I thought it was at first a small plane crash but soon the captain came on the speaker saying that it was unlikely we were going to take off and that we would need to deplane since our flight was going to be cancelled.

Then, the news hit – a second plane had hit the towers. A native New Yorker, who had spent many proud moments showing visitors to NYC the Towers, I could not even begin to imagine the tragedy unfolding but instinct had begun to set in. I started feeling the worse; a frequent traveler, I know they don’t shut airports down for an isolated, albeit tragic, accident. This was something larger – and my survival instinct kicked in. Get out of the airport, I thought, this can not be good! Could O’Hare be next? Are planes going to crash into Chicago? A mix of adrenaline and fear fueled to me take action.

As fast as I could, I retrieved my bags, took the L train downtown and checked into a hotel, with an insatiable desire to take in as much news as possible. There, from my hotel, I stayed, experiencing every emotion – fear, anger, sympathy, concern, helplessness. I finally got ahold of my husband in Brazil, who cried when he heard my voice. I also reached out to friends and family making sure they were out of harms way.

I was saddened to quickly learn that a former colleague was on the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center and relieved to find out that a college friend had escaped from Tower Two with minutes to spare. Another friend, who at the time worked along the Hudson River, told me about how he knew something horrible was about to happen when he saw a plane ominously flying low down the Hudson – “that for sure isn’t right..he told he coworker.” Another friend ran miles covered in soot before she realized she was safe. My mother, a schoolteacher the Bronx, worked to ensure the children, some of whom lost relatives in the tragedy, were safe. My brother, a nurse, stood by, like all first responders, to ensure that care could be provided to those in need.

Safe in a Chicago hotel, I was one of the lucky one, I’d have to say. Yet still, the emotions that September 11th unleashed for me – have lingered for the past decade. I remain inspired by the tenacity of the first responders, many of whom lost their lives, grateful to the people over Shanksville that fought back- “let’s roll”, saddened by my personal loss, angry by our national loss and fearful that terrorism will likely strike again. Most importantly though, I will never forget.

9/11/01 – “We Remember.” “I remember.”