Sunday, September 10, 2006

Where were YOU on 9/11/01?

 Remembering 9/11
I started a public forum yesterday inviting readers to leave comments and memories about their experiences on September 11, 2001; specifically, where they were and what they were doing on that terrible day. The response has been wonderful and uplifting. Please take the time to read comments from around the world.
Scroll below to read Saturday's post/comments and express your thoughts.

The invitation stands throughout the day
Monday, September 11, 2006


Tony Grant said...

I was there in NYC when it happened I lived threw it. NOT PRETTY, I would'nt wish it on my worst enemy!! How about you? Where were you?

jbwritergirl said...

Hi Mimi,

I see you happened upon my site and I thank you for letting me know you were there. Don't let Sunday fool you, that's just my resting day. the only day I don't bullshit the news in my odd slanted way.

On 9/11 I couldn't sleep. I woke up early and wandered around my house and finally as the sun was beginning to rise I went into my son's bedroom to check on him. His radio was on and as I sat there thinking about all the things I had to do that day, something in the voices of the DJ's caught my attention. I thought it was just Ken And Dean, two very wild DJ's here in Los Angeles , pulling one of their pranks. I moved closer to the radio and listened. My mind began racing, I'm a reporter it always does, and I though Holy Shit this is not funny!

I pulled the covers over his shoulders and went to turn the television on. What I saw hit me in the gut like a bad soft shell crab.

When I was finally able to close my mouth shortly after the second plane (live) hit the second tower I went upstairs and woke my husband. The only thing I could think to say was honey wake up I think we just got fucked by the other side of the world...Finally!

We sat together as our children slept safe and sound downstairs, awestruck by the devastation.

I remember picking up the phone, hours later, calling my mom in Canada. It was also her birthday. I just couldn't really speak so I made it short.

"Mom, I love you more than anything, happy birthday, I'll call you tomorrow and we'll talk."

For many, that day came and went like a bad dream, but I'm a reporter and so much of it has stayed with me, having to do follow ups, stories on people from LA who were affected, the fall out...blah, blah, blah.

Tomorrow I will light a candle in the window and say a silent prayer for those who died that day and those who are still dying in retribution today.

I will call my mother and tell her how much I love her and thank her for making me who I am.

I will pray my children do not see war so close like so many other children have.

I will pray that somehow we will end the conflict, bring our soldiers home, and pray that the people, so far away, will find their own way to living a peaceful life.

Mimi Lenox said...

Thank you, Tony, for commenting. What a horrible experience that must have been for you.

Mimi Lenox said...

jbwritergirl......What a wonderful post. Thank you for taking the time to write as you did. I'm sure many people around the world will be lighting candles and saying prayers today.
Mimi Lenox

Prometheus said...

Prometheus was part of a (UN+Govt. of India organized) workshop on disaster management focussing on mass casualty events. September 12 was the last day of this workshop and the foreign delegates had to leave by September 13. The evening of September 11 had a formal dinner for the delegates, which is when we saw the news on TV. Needless to add, the last day of the workshop included a token silence in respect of the victims and a brief look at the terrorism aspect in disaster management.

Mimi Lenox said...

Fascinating. Thank you so much for commenting.

Don said...

I'd gotten off-shift about 90 minutes before the first plane hit. Drove out of Manhattan, no big deal. Did a little shopping. I was at the grocery store - which oddly enough was equipped with TVs at all the checkout stations - when I saw the video of the burning tower after the first strike. At the time it was being reported as a possible aviation accident, not unlike the time in the 1940's when an Army Air Corps fighter plane struck the Empire State Building.

I'd gone to a local shopping mall, needing a push-style lawn mower, from the grocery store. As I entered Sears near the hardware department, the local news radio station was playing on the intercom, announcing the second hit, the fact that it wasn't an accident, and that rumors were circulating about a third plane striking the Pentagon. People were getting a little edgy at this point, as was I.

I got home and was fixed to the TV for a while, watching events unfold. My then-wife walked in the door, very early from work - the school where she teaches had an emergency dismissal and sent all the kids home. Her classroom actually had a view of the Twin Towers - her kids watched as the planes hit.

By midday, I had to get myself to bed and get some rest. I had no choice.

I had to be at work that night. In Manhattan. The same little island that everyone else was fleeing.

I work in the lobby of an apartment building - we can't just hang a "CLOSED" sign on the door, now can we?

I don't recall how much sleep I got, but I remember seeing when I woke that my ex was still in the living room, riveted to the television. I have no memories of how we spent the evening, other than watching 7 World Trade Center collapse live due to structural damage. I can say that there were no tender exchanges other than a goodbye peck on the cheek when I left. (She rarely expressed tender emotions, even when I tried to tease them out of her as if with pliers.)

I tried driving into the city, but that wasn't happening - they had everyone wearing any kind of official uniform mobilized, and the bridges into and out of Manhattan were closed to civilian traffic. In the end, I drove back home, pulled my bicycle out of the basement, and after checking the tires, rode it to the subway station - I was fortunate that the subways were running again, since at one point my line was shut down (it has a station that runs - or ran - beneath the World Trade Center).

Sitting in the lobby, hearing a transistor radio playing continuous updates alongside a portable TV someone borrowed was a scary and tense experience, punctuated often by the local "theme song" - sirens wailing and emergency vehicles all heading due south. I couldn't wait to get out of work that morning, 9/12/01.

I opted to ride my bicycle all the way home this time - I wanted to see what life was like at "street level" in the aftermath of all of what happened. It was still, calm, eerily quiet - and it was then I realized just how impinged the muscles in my right shoulder really were. It felt like it was on fire by the time I arrived on my doorstep, my ex waiting for me when I phoned in to say I wouldn't have the energy to move unassisted after that ride.

The building was very quiet for several days thereafter. Many people living there worked in the area downtown that had been sealed off by the police, so most simply stayed home and bunkered down.

I think it was on the 14th that I got a call while on-duty from someone in the building complaining about a burning smell. I had to inform them that the source of the burning they smelled was not from the building, but from the disaster site downtown - the wind had shifted, causing the sickly smell to blow uptown. It was no ordinary fire smell - it had just a hint of the smell of burning flesh mixed in with burning steel and concrete. (That's right - the actual structural steel and concrete were burning, the fires were so hot, and continued to burn for several weeks after the attack.) Her mild indignation melted into guilty sheepishness, then shocked silence when what I'd told her sank in - she was having trouble understanding that we could smell the fires from several miles away.

Life took on a surreal quality for months afterward. For half-a-year, I drove through two police/military checkpoints just to get to and from work, though I was never stopped. People were shunning big public events out of fear, and some restaurants shuttered for good after the massive reduction of business - people were staying home a lot more, and tourists were staying away. Any business with offices anywhere in the WTC were effectively shut down and forced to relocate, even as many of them were mourning the loss of their employees - in some cases, the losses were crippling. Most broadcast television stations and some radio stations were off the air for several weeks - most of them had their transmitters and antennae in the destroyed buildings. Cellular service was severely disrupted, and no civilians were getting further downtown than roughly Canal Street - businesses shut down and laid off staff, while residents had a difficult time regaining access to their own apartments.

There were so many funerals for fallen firefighters and police officers, the local newspapers were putting out a call to the public to attend the public processions and show their support, since the NYPD and FDNY and their families were unable to fill the streets on their own - those who weren't struck down were often still working at Ground Zero, attempting to recover people's remains and hoping against hope that someone would be found alive in the rubble (no one was). Even the mayor and other high-ranked local government officials were hard-pressed to attend them all. I stood by for one such funeral in my neighborhood, feeling my heart being wrenched in my chest as the casket was carried past.

People who lived in New York's Tri-State area at the time will remember this in the same way your grandparents remembered the "Day of Infamy", 12/7/1941, when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Ever since 9/11/2001, the Homeland Security threat level for New York City has been set to "High" (orange, and only exceeded by "Severe", red, which indicates an imminent attack) and has never come down to a lower level. Some degree of normalcy has returned for most, but many people moved away from the area and never returned, and those that remain try to live their lives with a sort of "whistling past the graveyard" feeling in the back of their heads.

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