NOTE: This was written for the 10th anniversary and revised for 9-11-16, the 15th anniversary of 9/11. I must note that the air is not so thick with the sadness of the souls lost. They seem comfortable with the memorial and there to welcome us to the site.
Please add your own memories in the comments.
Memories of the day:
I returned from the funeral of a dear friend in Connecticut on Monday evening, but that is a whole other story. Towers came down the next morning. I was teaching a class at an Armed Services YMCA. We were evacuated due to our proximity to the base (right outside the gate to Naval Station Newport). I remember listening to the news as I looked in my rearview mirror at the base while heading North to Bristol, RI, with my 2-year-old in his car seat. We didn’t know if our husbands would be deployed to help or if the base would be bombed. We had no idea what would happen next anywhere in the country. We just did not know anything at the time.
I, like many others, watched TV after my son went down for his nap and waited for my husband to come home. He arrived at 2pm after making sure the clinic was cleared of patients and staff. We held on to each other while we watched the news and our son slept peacefully in the other room.
What I remember most over the next few days is the quiet. The sky was completely quiet with nothing flying over our country. Several friends were stuck in Connecticut trying to get back to California after the funeral, but that was okay. They were happy to be ‘home’ or with close friends who had been at our friend’s or sister’s or daughter’s funeral. Her name was Lisa, by the way. I always thought she was taken four days before that awful day so she would be ready to help the thousands of souls lost into Heaven. That’s the kind of person she was, a helper.
A few weeks later, things started to get back to normal and the recovery mission continued for nine or ten months. My husband took me to the pile to “pay my respects” the following April at the end of my birthday trip. He knew I would have to go to find closure. This was the city I loved, the city in which I would live if I could swing it. I loved everything about it and all of its quirks.
So we went down to the pile. We walked quietly along the gates on which people had pinned photos of their missing loved ones just in case anyone had seen them. We made our way to an entry for workers that was guarded by a young police office. He couldn’t have been more than 28.
I asked if he had been there that day. No, he told me. He was out of town that day, but his father and brother were both on the police force and were there helping. As I felt the energy all around me and looked at the mangled bits behind him, I burst into tears. What made it worse was his response.
“Awww,” he said, placing a hand gently on my arm. “It will be all right.”
He was so young. I had been through so much more of life than him and here he was comforting me. I knew he was right. I gave him a quick hug, thanked him for his service to my adopted city and left.
Fifteen years later, I see he was right. The building is beautiful, that part of the city is vibrant again, and the pools where the towers stood are a beautiful testament to the people lost. Below are a few of my memories of the Towers.
- I always walked through the plaza when I worked downtown at my many temp or restaurant jobs. The plaza was lovely and the buildings were immense.
- My brother and I took our much younger brother there to show it to him when he was about 10. We perched him on one of the sculptures and took a picture before the guard approached to shoo us off.
- I temped on the 90-something floor for one day. When I got up to my assigned office, I felt the building swaying slightly, which it was supposed to do or it would break. I called my agency and asked them if I could skip lunch and leave early. I never took another assignment in that building. This was about 1989. I often wonder if there was something that warned me off. The first bombing happened in 1993.
- My husband and I discovered the TKTS booth in the World Trade Center sometime in the late nineties during one of our many trips to New York City. It was much less crowded than the one in Times Square and we loved the buildings.
- My husband and I took a tour of the site over that birthday weekend. A survivor bearing her physical scars, was our guide. I told her afterward that her husband stood beside her while she spoke to us. She told me she knew and it comforted her. How many more stories like this are there?
Here is a YouTube video I discovered about the World Trade Center circa 1998. It’s a little rough and grainy, but it gives you an idea of what the building was like.