Monday, September 10, 2012

September 11, 2001.

It's hard to believe tomorrow is 11 years since that heartbreaking day that changed America and especially New York.
I'm trying to avoid all the 911 tv shows and recaps they've been having on tv for the past week or so. Myself, like so many others, don't need them to remember. So much has been forever etched into our heads and our hearts. 

I was working down in Ramsey, NJ when it happened. My boyfriend at the time worked around the corner from me. We always commuted together every day for work. I remember the first phone call from him, telling me that one of the Twin Towers was hit by a plane. I didn't even really know how that was possible, or what that would mean. You've seen the Twin Towers and wonder how and the hell an airplane could crash into it. Though it was a tragedy and my heart went out to those involved, it didn't really sink in until the second tower was hit. By that time, our phone lines and tv were down and suddenly the town got really quiet.
Ramsey is about 30 miles from Manhattan, and even from 30 miles away the after math of the attacks hit like a sledge hammer to the gut.

So many questions. Why? Who? What was happening to us? When I could finally get a line out of the bank, I called my mother back home. I knew she had to have heard what was going on and was probably freaking out. I can replay that entire phone call in my head still to this day. This was back when cell phones weren't as popular as they are now, so I had to call her business and speak to someone that would put me through. I calmly explained to them who I was, where I was and that I am ok, and I needed to tell my mother that.
When she got to the phone, she was visibly upset. Apparently everyone at her company was all in the lunch room crowded around the tiny tv, watching God knows what. Even I wasn't able to see anything on tv- anything but snow. The news broadcasting in Michigan said that the East coast was under attack. From what? I don't know.... were we really under attack? I didn't see anything outside the window. How were they going to attack us?

It wasn't long before State of Emergency was called and we were sent home. My boyfriend and I drove back upstate to our house. Still not too clear on what was going on. We heard the word terrorists, but didn't know from where or who they were. We went to his fathers house and got a gun to take home with us. Why? I don't really know. Suddenly the world was strange. We felt helpless and everything around us, chaotic.
It wasn't until returning home later that night when we were able to see what happened on tv. Even though if we would have driven a mile down the road from where we worked, we could have seen the smoke coming from the towers. It's just that we didn't want to. I guess we didn't want to believe it.

I remember the weather was perfect for weeks afterwards. I remember thanking God for that. Thanking him so the workers were able to dig through the rubble to hopefully find anyone that could have survived. Chances were slim, but there are always miracles.
People were so nice to each other, too. Quiet, but nice. It softened a lot of us. The pain, shock and disbelief was too overpowering for anything else to really matter. Flags started flying everywhere. Every street, every house, every car. Patrons on the side of the road waving them to all the cars that passed by. At night, people crowded the street corners with candles. Churches held vigils several times a day. Blood banks became overcrowded with generous people wanting to do anything to help. 

Everyone knew someone who was gone. Every day you saw the faces of the loved ones left behind, wondering if they were still alive. The posters went up everywhere, local news in newspapers was replaced with pictures of the missing faces, or those who they had found. Firefighters, police officers... you couldn't help but say a silent prayer for each one of them.
I think a lot of people lost their faith in God that day, just as an equal amount had also found him.

Planes were grounded, the only ones you'd see in the sky were from the military. Even those made you nervous because you wondered if they knew something that you didn't. When they started letting the planes fly again, I remember panicking every time I saw one in the air. Wondering where it was going... Who was flying it... 

It was another painful reminder.

September 11th changed so much for so many. I guess that's what their plans were all along. The city was never safe after that.... and again, that's what they wanted. We keep saying that they didn't win- but didn't they? Security is heightened, and I can't count how many times we've heard the words "terror alert" every year since then. There have been several bomb threat issues since.... and we can't forget the anthrax scare that happened immediately after. The post office around the corner from where I worked was shut down due to having found anthrax in a package. First we worry about terrorists bombing buildings with explosives, and now we worry about anything that is a powdery substance.
We actually had to take a security class at the bank about what to do in a terrorist situation- being that we heard that financial institutions could possibly be on the terrorist target list. What to do if someone came in strapped with explosives, or if we receive a package with powder on it. What to do if we get a threatening phone call or if someone wants to come in to apply for a large loan.
That's when we started screening people. More policies were put into place when it came to dealing with large sums of money.

Every day is a reminder. Every year on that day is a dagger to the heart.

I will never forget. My heart goes out to the families that have lost and to those that are no longer with us. Thank you all to the brave people that went in to help save lives. Thank you to our military for fighting this war- past, present and future. Thank you all, to each and every one of you, that donated yourself, your time, or a piece of you on that day and they days that followed.

"We move forward, but we never forget."