Has It Been So Long?

Instead of my normal Sunday post talking about Black Friday and the second book to come, I am dedicating this post to the memories of those who lost their lives in the attack on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and those who put a stop to the machinations of the hijackers who took control of their flights.

Has it been so long?  Has it really been 10 years since that fateful day in New York City?

So much has happened since that day.  So much I have learned and constantly praise all that is good and right in this world that it didn’t come knocking on my door.  It is astounding what has changed in the course of a single decade.  Some has been laughable at best (the accusations that certain religious groups and abortionists are why God let this happen to us) while others have been done with all renewed spirit of dedication and seriousness the event required.

I remember where I was when the radio stations chattered endlessly about the planes crashing into the Twin Towers.  That Tuesday morning, I was working the drive through window at McDonald’s during breakfast rush.  We were busy and the cars were lining up around the building.  The window did not close we were moving so smoothly.  That day, the weather was cool with a nice breeze blowing by gentle.  It was a perfect September morning and things were going well in the franchise I was a slave to.

The first reports weren’t quite heard, I was busy taking orders.  During a brief lull while a problem was sorted out at the front window, I had the chance to hear what was being said.  I, and the gentleman who was there waiting to move forward, did a double-take when it was announced the second plane had crashed into the south tower.

A cold feeling swept over me after hearing that.  I was stunned into silence and the kitchen went quiet as the news quickly spread through the store.

About an hour and a half later, no one spoke or moved when it was announced over the radio that the South tower fell, then, a few minutes later, the North tower joining its twin.  It seemed as though someone put a silencer on the entire place then froze us in place to hear this tragic news.

All I could think of were the net friends I knew worked in or near those towers.  Did they make it out alive?  Were they hurt?  How were able to escape?

That day suddenly became stressful as I counted the second from that moment to the end of my shift later that afternoon.  People I had never seen but considered good friends  were in dire need and there was no way of finding out if they were alright or not.

Thinking about that day still sends shivers through my soul.  Thankfully, over the course of a few weeks, those friends checked in and let me, and others, know they were alive and well.  Most were saved by traffic slowing them down as they took their kids to school late for whatever reason.  One was home sick that day and another was on the road upstate.  But, they did lose colleagues and friends and grieved for them.  I was there to let them speak their anger and their grief as one by one bodies were found in the rubble.

I found out about a month later, my cousin Gregory worked at the Pentagon.  His office, or at least where he was supposed to be, was just on the other side of where the plane struck in the second ring.  He, fortunately, wasn’t there that day.  He was out for a time doing something, so he was spared.  I wasn’t close to him, but I am glad he managed to be lucky enough to not be there like others.

Before I knew about the close call to a single family member, I heard about the brave people who stopped the take over of their flight.  Their strength of spirit sparked a new life into the American spirit.  These people put their own lives on the line to prevent another tragedy before they even knew what had happened earlier.  To these brave folks, I can only say thank you for putting a stop to further loss of life.

No one will forget the police officers and firemen who gave their lives to save as many people as they could before the towers fell.  No one will forget the selfless act s of the two men from the Port Authority office that was in those towers in saving hundreds of people in the upper floors.  This nation will always remember all of them for what they did and the people who paid their debt to them forward in helping others escape before the final seconds of the towers were gone.

These are the true heroes of this nation.  They stand tall with heroes from the past and present in my eyes.

Even though I had to work today, I still stopped and gave the memory of all who lost their lives on this tragic day a moment of silence and prayer to let them know that they will never be forgotten (even by a stranger like myself).

In the spot where the Twin Towers stood is a memorial park.  I have only seen pictures of this on the news and in magazines.  There’s a huge waterfall like fountain where one of the towers stood, and a memorial museum where artifacts found in the rubble were brought to rest.  Three of the tridents that made up the lower facade of the buildings are housed in there, visible through the glass main foyer.

The museum itself is underground, down a long winding staircase.  There, people will items such as Big Red, also known as Ladder 3, from the fire department.  It was running heavy that day and everyone who rode in it were killed when the walls crumbled.  A bike rack, with several bikes still chained to it, is also on display, a haunting reminder of the messengers and people who rode their bikes in that day and never lived to claim them.  There’s also a wall of pictures and notes to the lost.

Many key features of the lost towers are still visible.  The footprint of the towers where steel was embedded in the bedrock with a mass just above representing the tower itself.  A load bearing outer wall with the subway system on the other side remains along with the retaining wall which still holds the Hudson River at bay.

Above all this is the new World Trade Center, rising slowly floor by floor above the city.  It was slated to be opened today, but due to problems with the weather (this past winter mostly), and other problems, progress has slowed and will open either next year or the year after if I remember what the program said.

Everything I’ve mentioned here about the memorial park and the new building are from memorial shows played on TLC.  They gone over the stories of the brave people who lost their lives, giving this day a whole new meaning to me.  One day, I’ll be able to go see this new building and marvel at the New York skyline from an upper floor once again.

I’ll always treasure the memory I have of a bunch of sixth graders on a two-week long summer trip to Pennsylvania and New York for a history trip.  We were able to go up into the South Tower and view the city from the Sky Lobby on the 78th floor.  We then were taken up to the top most floor and that’s when I realized I really did not like heights.  I was dizzy looking down at the ground and the buildings below.  But looking back, knowing I’ll never have that chance again makes that dizzy feeling seem so minor and non-existent.

One day, maybe on the 15th or the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I’ll be able to see the museum and the new tower.  One day, it will happen and there, I will give the ghosts of the that day their due in a moment of silence and prayer meant only for them.