Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years ago

This is taken from Google's main page today.

September 11, 2001 - I woke up around 6am and got ready for work that day, like normal. I turned on the radio, to listen to Mark and Brian while I showered, like normal. They were talking about something, and I figured, oh yeah, they're doing another one of their bits, making stuff up to entertain their audience, like normal. Brian regularly talked about hoping that one day, someone would find the Titanic, and wouldn't that be cool, and when listeners would call to tell him that the Titanic had already been found, he'd "misunderstand" and say that yeah, they've thought several times they'd found it, but it didn't pan out. But someday, they were gonna find it. Mark and Brian also did a lot of prank calls, making up situations that didn't exist just to make a joke. It was all normal.

But the joke seemed to be going on too long. And there was a different tone to their voices. You could tell in the other instances that there was a smile to their voice, and if you knew to listen for it, it was obvious they were joking. But that tone was missing here. And the joke was going on too long. And the joke wasn't funny at all. Big planes crashing into very tall buildings is not funny. And then they cut to the ABC News audio feed.

And I started to realize that they weren't joking. It wasn't a "bit". Something had happened in New York. I don't remember if they'd talked about what happened at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania yet. Something major was going on, but it couldn't possibly be of the magnitude that they were talking about. That was impossible. Those kinds of things didn't happen.

When I got out of the shower, I turned the TV on to ABC. And they were showing the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, in flames. They showed and re-showed the footage of the first and then the second plane crashing into the towers. The husband and I watched, disbelieving what we were seeing. This is the stuff that disaster movies are made of. This does not happen in real life. This CANNOT happen in real life.

And the "normal" continued to be missing. Unimaginably, the first tower crumbled. I saw it as it happened on TV. And yet, I still didn't believe it. There was nothing about this that I could wrap my brain around. It's gotta be a mistake, or a dream, or something. None of this was normal. And then the second tower collapsed as well.

Sometime after that, the phone rang. When I answered it, it was someone from my work. I work in a 30+ story high-rise in the Los Angeles area. Some people were in the office early that morning, and because of the World Trade Center attacks, they were evacuating the building. They were calling to tell me not to come into work that day. I called a few of my friends who worked in the same building, to make sure they knew not to go into work as well, and I also called some other friends, to make sure they knew about what was going on in New York - some did, and some didn't.

The husband left for work shortly thereafter. He said they didn't get much work done that day, but they were all there. I sat at home all day, mostly online on a discussion board that I'm a member of, and watching and reading a lot of news reports.

I went back to work the next day. I wasn't afraid to go back to the high-rise, though we did have a number of employees who refused to go back so soon. The building is near the flight path of an airport, so small planes are normally flying by constantly. My drive home is also near a flight path to a different airport, so I always see the lights in the sky of planes approaching the airport. And for the next several days, there were no planes in the sky, no lights in the sky. It was eerie.

Eventually, life went back to "normal", at least what the new normal is after that horrific day. Thankfully, as far as I know, no one I know had a family member or other loved one who was killed that day, in either New York, Washington or Pennsylvania. But I know that a lot of people aren't that lucky. Lots of people mourn the loss of loved ones that they haven't seen in 10 years and will never see again.

The husband and I took a vacation to New York in 2006, but we didn't go to Ground Zero. I knew I couldn't take it. As we were wandering around Manhattan, we happened to walk past the fire station that had lost the largest number of firefighters on that day. And when we visited the Intrepid Museum, I was surprised to discover a 9/11 tribute section in one corner. Both of those experiences reduced me to tears fairly easily. At some point, I will probably visit the 9/11 memorial in New York, but I know it's something I'll have to prepare for.

I've noticed that for the past couple days, I've been feeling very teary. As today has approached, there are more and more stories about what happened 10 years ago, and I think it's just bringing back the memories. Lots of people take this day on a political level. I don't. I can only think about the people and what happened to them, those that survived, those that didn't, those who had family and friends who didn't survive, those who got one final phone call from someone who knew they weren't going to make it out of the towers or off the airplane.

So today, I mourn for those lost in the towers of the World Trade Center because they couldn't make it down the stairs in time, I mourn for those who ran up the stairs trying to save others, I mourn for those lost in Washington at the Pentagon and on the plane, and I mourn for those heroic passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 who brought their plane down in Pennsylvania, preventing yet another target from being hit. I send love and support to the family and friends of those who lost someone in any of those locations.

And unfortunately, I also have to think of a little girl and her family, who should have been celebrating her 10th birthday today. She was one of the stories of hope, born on September 11, 2001. But she was killed in a senseless act of violence. To her family, and all who mourn her loss, I send love and can only hope that my best wishes added to those of others can have some chance of easing the pain they must be feeling today.

I've posted this video before, but I think it bears repeating. During the Super Bowl in 2002, only months removed from 9/11, Anheuser-Busch/Budweiser had the following commercial. I join in the sentiments of that commercial, in remembrance and in honor of all the victims of September 11, 2001.