Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 revisited from a personal perspective

This post was conceived after I read a post by Lorraine at Crafty Coo during WOYWW. I considered joining, but since the challenge was to make something red, white, and blue, I simply have not had time to make anything for it, although I usually try to make something to honor that day. Perhaps you will join Lorraine in her challenge, or visit her blog, though.

Like anyone in the USA who was over the age of five, memories of what started out as a perfect September day in 2001 will stay with you forever. I decided to share something very personal: memories of that day nine years ago, along with memories of my visit to the World Trade Center using images I found on the internet since my relevant photos are stored away in non-acid free boxes in my always damp basement. You should click on these to get the full picture, since they load from each original site's link.

When I woke on September 11, 2001, I wasn't thinking about checking my blog, or checking my friends blogs (what in the world was a BLOG?), but of the day at hand. I had made an appointment with my financial institution to refinance my home. As I was getting dressed, I happened to turn on the Today Show and

saw the North Tower on fire, sometime after 8:46 AM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). The moderators talked about checking out what had happened, then went to commercial. Not long after they came back online, and while their cameras were still focused on the twin towers,

a second plane showed itself in the distance and crashed into the South Tower at 9:03 AM EDT. I had little time to see what was happening as I prepared for my appointment at 9:00 am CDT. On the way to the bank,


I remembered the time I visited the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, probably the most famous of the 5 boroughs that make up NYC and the many views I saw from the Observation Deck located on the roof of the South Tower which I got to from two escalators from the enclosed Observation Room directly below the Observation Deck.

I remembered starting the day early, finding a parking garage, and walking to the plaza


with the beautiful fountain that was situated between the two towers.

It was the day before the date on my ticket to the Statue of Liberty, and I was excited to get the lay of the land from a bird's eye view. This could well be the Lady Liberty ferry that took me to the Statue the following day. It was also the day of my reservation to Windows on the World, the gorgeous and well appointed restaurant located in the North Tower (the one with the antenna). I remembered how excited I was when I received confirmation of my reservation to this oh-so-lovely and well appointed restaurant.

What struck me most was the gold and shining lobby. While waiting for the elevator to take me to the Top of the World Observation Deck in the South Tower, I remembered taking photos of myself in the reflection of the gold elevator doors.

And then my mental images were gone, like evaporation of dew on a hot summer morning.


All this drama was playing out on TV while I was driving in traffic or working my way to the third floor of the bank.

Although I had no idea what was going on outside the loan officer's office, we talked about the attacks while he looked up interest rate options. He was curious as to "why today?" I've often questioned the significance of the date, myself.

We continued to talk as he gave me loan options. As I was pointing out which option I wanted, someone from his office (maybe a secretary/assistant, or whatever they are called now days) knocked and entered. She told him the computer system had just been shut down and no transactions were possible, due to potential computer and financial attacks. She also stated the financial district had been shut down, including the Stock Exchange. The loan officer even tried to get the loan I was planning to sign back on his screen, but it was useless. His computer was now nothing more than a fancy paperweight holding down his lovely mahogany desk. That was when I realized I would not get my loan changed that day.

Instead of immediately driving home, I walked out to the street. I was surprised by all the police, National Guard, and other uniformed officers who were on the street. As I stood by the bank parking lot, I caught sight of at least six officers on one side of the street and four on the bank side. What a difference an hour made!

When I got home, one of my neighbors was standing in her yard. She walked over and told me that both towers had collapsed. Both towers had fallen? How could that be?

More memories flooded my still shocked brain. What about the lovely Windows on the World restaurant on the 106th floor of the North Tower where I had lunch that day over 20 years ago (as of today, not 2001)? I remembered lunch consisted of a lovely soup and well appointed salad, far more food than I could possibly eat at the time. Needless to say, as these memories of crisp white napkins and beautiful tablescapes resurfaced, I was SHOCKED.

(First image above from CNN. Panorama images from 360 Cities that do not enlarge. All other images above from http://www.greatbuildings.com, ABC News Photos, or September 11 News.)


When I finally walked in the house, still stunned with disbelief, I checked the images coming from my TV. I was curious as to how other countries were reacting.

Norway


Denmark


Finland


Independent (UK)


London (UK)


Germany

(These images are from September 11 News.)


In the days after the attack, I sat and watched, as I'm sure many Americans did) as the events unfolded and the towers collapsed in front of my eyes over and over and over.



I watched as those elegant stairs in the South Tower I remembered climbing to reach the elevator to the observation deck, and now nearly unidentifiable, were climbed by rescue workers in hopes of finding survivors.



I watched as Fire Fighters formed bucket lines to remove debris or search for their lost "brothers."

And today I'm watching as I find images I've never before seen of wreckage from the World Trade Center that was taken to the Fresh Kills landfill.

According to the caption under this Time Magazine photo:
More than 65,000 personal items were recovered from Ground Zero, including 144 rings, 437 watches, 119 earrings and 80 bracelets.
Possibly the most bizarre photo I found, also from Time Magazine, was this one above of identification cards belonging to Blue Cross and Blue Shield employees found during the screening of debris at Fresh Kills. The fact that so many people burned to death in both towers when the planes ripped the buildings apart, then the fires burned for over 12 weeks after the collapse, it seems odd that bits of plastic, although deformed, would make it through all that heat and devastation.

Some of the images that came from that horrific day must have taxed photographers, both amateur and professional. I am grateful to those who have chosen to share their photos on the internet. (The last set of photos above are from various photographers at Time Magazine photo essays.)

I found images at several sites. I know there are many more. Here are the sites I linked the above images from:

Great Buildings.com

CNN.com

Mail Online.co.uk

Time Magazine.com

360 Cities (has interactive panorama views, including Ground Zero photos)

And my blog pick of the day, September 11 News, had the best coverage, the most images, and the widest worldwide coverage of that day, of all the sites I visited. I know these will bring back thoughts that will be remain in our memories forever, whether we lost anyone or not. However, each of the sites listed above have many wonderful photos, as well.

And lest we forget, two more planes, their passengers, and crews, also perished that day. Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:38 EDT and Flight 93 crashed into an empty field at 10:06 EDT. Feel free to share your 9/11 memories. After all, if you made it here, you read mine!

32 thoughtful remarks:

MosaicMagpie said...

Elizabeth,
A well written post. Such a tragic day that still continues to touch our lives.
Debbie

Cath said...

I was on a course in the TUC building in London, we went for a break and a whisper started that a plane had hit a tower so we all went into the bar to watch on tv. I then spent the next hour trying to get my friend on the phone as her husband worked in the tower. It was 18 hours later that she finally managed to get in touch with him and let us all know he was safe. That day saved there marriage as she realised just what he meant to her.

Lovey said...

An amazing post. we shall never forget...and will always remember this day...

Marilyn Rock said...

This is an amazing post Elizabeth - thank you. Those photos are incredible; I, too, found out about the attack while watching the Today Show. I don't think we'll ever forget what we were doing when that happened. It was a tragic day and the effects will be with us forever. Love, Marilyn

Healing Woman said...

Your post was the only one I took time to read this morning since I'm off to my little market area in Roanoke, Va. to sell my work. The post was very moving and a reminder of how all of our lives changed as well as history on that day. Exceptional.
Thank you.

Best,
Cheryl

Doone said...

Hey Elizabeth - thanks for your post, It's chilling those image and the history as it is retold, I have spent time reflecting today on the lives lost....

for me it's the Birmingham Pub Bombings, and the young man shot in the head round the corner from me - that burns images to my brain - I do not need to see them for real I just close my eyes - mostly my mother's face when it came on the news...and my soulmate is Irish and I am English

I do not wish to live in a world where terror gets its way - and nor will I allow terrorists to turn me into a person who lives a life of hatred and death.

I know not how I forgave and reconciled but that was my path to Peace...

La Dolce Vita said...

your post is very personal and touching I can see how it all affected you and personally touched your life. I hope this 9-11 weekend fills you with great love and peace. xx's cat

Julia Dunnit said...

A great dedication Elizabeth. I was at my shop, having a cup of tea with a friend/customer who was 'unloading' about some personal problems. The radio was on and the news flash about the first plane 'crash'; my friend and I were stunned. And then we gathered ourselves, she went home to the husband she was worrying about, grateful that he was safely at home. I turned the door sign to closed and went home too. And sat in front of the tv and wept as the next hours unfolded. The next day, I watched a programme that showed a photo and gave a name to every person that had been on a hi-jacked plane. It gave the horror and the loss a traumatic reality for me, and was powerful reportage. I believe that it is world wide inter-action of the sort that we carry on daily that can do the most help; the haves and have nots, the religious and the secular - we must all find a mutual respect, and that can be done by talking.

jacqueline said...

Dearest sweet Elizabeth, your post is very touching! Such a tragic day and it still touches my life. I remember exactly that numb feeling i felt and in total shocked when i saw what happen on the news over here in Malaysia and i was watching closely following the updates for days. Sending you lots of love and hugz. Have a lovely merry happy day and love to you!

Magpie said...

Absolutely stunning photos, and such a thoughtful and well written post. Thank you for this memorial.

Just like nearly everyone else, the events of that day are etched in my mind as clear as these photos. I have still not visited the World Trade Center site, but I live less than an hour from the site of the flight 93 crash. It's an indescribable feeling to be standing there, and a feeling I was not prepared for.

Oh, and thanks for visiting my blog! I hope you have a hopeful and happy day!

Karen said...

Elizabeth...you have written a very touching, fitting post to commemorate this day. A day which has affected all those in the western world. I had the tv on while I was ironing and saw the live coverage of the planes hitting and then, later, the towers falling. I just could not believe what I was seeing...it just didn't seem real! i immediately rang a friend who was in NY on holiday as he said he was going to visit the Towers...luckily he went the day before. I still find myself very moved by the images that keep emerging of those days. Bless you XXX

Cynthia Eloise said...

well done elizabeth. a day that will be etched in our minds forever.

Carmen said...

I remember this so vividly - turning the TV on and thinking 'oh no not another disaster movie' then the horror and shock when I flicked over and it was on every channel. It was real.

The thing I remember most from the day was the reporter doing the report on channel 5 I think it was, and she did a live link up with someone who was there. All of a sudden she said something along the lines of ' are you OK? tell me you are OK' turned out the man she was doing the link up with was her hubby, also a reporter, who had been in the building at the time. Made it all very real that these usually aloof far away presenters were sharing their fear and grief live on air.

Thank you for this post.

gina said...

Elizabeth:

I just checked your blog and read your moving post. I've been crying all morning. Like you, I remember everything of that morning, where I was, what I was doing and what a beautiful perfect fall day it was. I was traveling between our clinics and contract providers, doing training on confrontation avoidance techniques of all things. By the time I was headed back to my office I was frantic, needing to talk to my family. I called my mother and then e-mailed my brother who worked for an airline. You can imagine how his day was impacted with the need to safely land all of their planes wherever they happened to be. No more work was done that day as we skipped to the gym next door and watched their television. My recurring thought that day was that life as we knew it, was over.

Thanks for sharing the pictures and your memories. (And thanks to the other commenters for their stories as well.)

Gina

Lorraine said...

Wow, that was so beautifully and respectfully worded that I'm sure people all over the world will be moved by it.

As my hubby is American we always mark the day and pay our respect but I think it's so important that we all remember the tragic events that occurred that day and pray that we never again have to witness such destruction and tragic loss of life.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us all today.

Love 'n' hugs
Lorraine xxx

Lynn said...

Amen.

Terri Kahrs said...

You have honored that awful day and all of those who have been affected with a heartfelt, personal tribute. Thank you, Elizabeth. Hugs & blessings, Terri xoxo

Dianne said...

I received a call from my daughter in Dayton, at Wright State Univ. It is right across the street from Wright Patterson Air Force Base. She called to let me know she was leaving town to stay with a friend for a few days since the AF base had shut up tight in case of an attack. She had been at the Pentagon only one week before--on vacation. Thank you for the remembrance...it is so easy to be involved with our own day-to-day activities that we don't remember as we should...

~*~Patty Szymkowicz said...

such a heartfelt post Elizabeth
sadly we each remember where we were that fateful day ... so tragic for all of the those left behind that lost loved ones ... nine years is a mere drop in the grief bucket ... impossible to forget
oxo

lisa said...

What a fantastic post although it has sent shivers down my spine looking at these amazing photos.
I was making a meal for my Sister that day who was coming to keep me company while my Hubby was on a business trip to NY. My BIL phoned to tell me to turn the TV on. Life has not been the same since although my Hubby was OK, for which I give thanks everyday, and returned home to the UK over a week late and very shaken. He never speaks about it but I always dread this anniversary as it brings back such strong emotions. I was one of the lucky ones who got my loved one back. My heart goes out to all those who were not!! We will never forget them.
Hugs Lisax

Esther said...

What a moving post Elizabeth - and stunning photos. I was at work when I heard via a text message from a friend who is a police officer here in UK...I went to tell my colleagues and we just sat watching the news - all thoughts of work gone...

A month later I left a very unappy marriage behind me - this tragic event made me realise how precious life is and that we only get one shot!! Thanks for sharing and making us think again...Esther xxx

Marlynn said...

Thank you for your thoughts, photos, and remembrance of those days long ago. M

NEEDLEWINGS said...

Wow! Your post really put things into perspective! It still seems unbelieveable and even with this post even more shocking! I think every one remembers where they were or what they were doing at that very moment when they heard the news. I had just put a quilt on the machine and was working when my husband had given me a call and told me to turn on the news. One of my friends was flying that morning and the plane was not allowed to land and ended up in a different destination. I also remember when the Challenger blew up as I was working on illustrating some rodeo posters when someone came in to tell us the news. Even when Kennedy was shot, it was the day after my birthday and I was in school when the teacher told us. All of these events stop us in our tracks of what we are doing in the midst of a catastrophic event and we sit in shock in a moment in time.
As horrible as it was, I appreciate you taking us back to that time to pay respect to those who have perished. They still live on in our hearts.

Enfys said...

Such a fitting tribute, and a beautifully written post, which moved me very much. We were on holiday in Turkey when we heard the news, will anyone ever forget where they were on that day? Thank you for reminding us to remember.
Enfys xx

craftimamma said...

What an amazing post Elizabeth, thankyou. My Hubby and I have been watching documentary programmes both yesterday evening and tonight about that dreadful day. Although they are terribly upsetting I feel the least we can do is watch and remember those who were lost and their loved ones left behind.

On that day I had finished a night shift as a clerical officer at our local hospital and was just about to go to bed when my daughter rang and told me to switch on the TV. I never made it to bed that day but spent the day watching TV in shocked disbelief and horror.

Exactly one year later my husband, myself and our son and daughter flew to America for our pre-planned holiday. Not much but our small gesture of respect.

I wish you peace.

Hugs
Lesley Xx

Miss Kitty said...

Greetings Elizabeth and Bluebeard,

A very touching and personal post, filled with meaning and reflection.

Daddy sent part of the day in the garden where I joined him as he sat among the stones in contemplation and prayer, remembering the events of the day.

To many of us it is forever imprinted just as the day Kennedy was shot in Dallas. Those who are older will also recall December 6, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Daddy is real quiet now.

warmest and furiest regards,
Miss Kitty

Steph said...

I remembered this day...."painful" "disbelief" as I tried to organize my whole being to what was showing right before our eyes on TV.....Thank you for sharing this, E!!!

Liverpool Lou (Anne) said...

Hi Elizabeth, thank you for such a wonderful tribute, very moving.
Anne x

Seth said...

Thank you for all the work you put into this moving post. As everybody else, I will never forget my experiences of that day and the weeks/months that followed. It seems that the world has never been the same since 9/11. And given that I lived in Manhattan in 2001 as I still do today, I don't think I will ever be quite the same myself either.

Chrissie said...

It was the end of a school day and my daughter rang to say get into the staff room and look at the tv. We couldn't believe what we were seeing. We were speechless.
It's almost like when JFK was shot, we'll never forget what we were doing when we heard the news.
Chrissie

Christi Conley said...

Beautiful post - It brought back so many different memories. . .as I lived in CT at the time, having been to NYC so many times, just about a 45 min. train ride to Manhattan. . .Luckily my mom was at my house that day & we comforted each other, watched the news and cried. . .<3

JoZart said...

Such a poignant, well written, article Elizabeth. I will never forget and I still cannot believe that people can treat others in such a way.
I remember the events being shown live on TV and how it became worse and worse. More horrific minute by minute. We never put TV on in the daytime but for some reason that day my husband had it on at breakfast time and it had been left on and I went into the room just as the early images were shown. I don't know how long I was rooted to the spot, stunned, shocked tears down my face. I suddenly had the need to contact each of my family members to feel a little security of my own that others would never ever know again.
Every single person lost was special to so many and now they are special to the World but for the wrong reason.
Jo x