12 September 2011

Hurtful Memory

I couldn't write yesterday, the memory was too hurtful and watching it on TV didn't help either.... yet I had to watch it, I had to remind mself of what happened ten years ago on that dreadful 9th of September.
A fellow blogger (hi Jeff) put it this way: "It was one of those moments in history so profound that most people remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news."

Where were you?

I was not in Jersey, no. I was on a trip around the States - a trip that I did not want to finish because  I needed to go back home. We had tried to find tickets for me to fly out of Las Vegas and Albuquerque - I don't remember why it didn't work, but it didn't. We finally found one for September 11th, 2001 out of New Orleans.
That morning, we were in Lafayette, Louisiana. Our tour leader made us an all American breakfast with pancakes - something that most people on my team had never eaten. For a reason totally unknown to her (and to me), our leader turned on the van's radio.... and after about three songs, there were the news that changed this country forever - a plane had hit the first tower of the World Trade Center. My first thought was that it must have been a small airplane, you know, one of those two passenger thingies....  Only later should we learn that it was a big air craft with almost a hundred people on board. Then the second plane hit the other tower.... and I knew something was up.... I started to cry and then tried to contact my friend in Jersey, wanting to make sure she was not in the city that day... Of course, I couldn't get through. It took me hundreds of tries and multiple stops with the van, at different gas stations, public phone booths, and about four hours time, until I finally got through to her. We cried.... for minutes. Just cried.

As you all know, there were no more planes flying that day (I mean besides the four that crashed!), so there was no way for me to get out of New Orleans. We got in and I just laid on the bed and cried for hours, until my fellow travelers pulled me out and dragged me to a dinner place, and a karaoke - after all, they were from Europe and Asia and Australia and probably could care less about some towers, that had alot of meaning to me...

And have you ever noticed how many airplanes are flying over our heads daily? Then: can you imagine the silence that came after this morning? It was so weird - I can't really explain it either. There were no planes for two entire days! I was stuck in New Orleans. On the morning of that second day, I made the decision to keep going with the tour not knowing when the planes would start flying again. We made it to Memphis, Tennessee and ate a late dinner. And while we were sitting outside a fast food restaurant, there was the sound we 'missed' for the past two days: the planes were back in the air. It took me three more days, until we got to Washington, DC, that I could catch a train and get back to Jersey.

And then we went into the city...
We went in from Staten Island, with the ferry into Battery Park and walked. My first impression was the smoke and the smell, the streets and cars and buildings covered with white dust. And then the trucks that carried all the debris - one after the other, and no end. We couldn't walk far, they had blocked of so many blocks away and around the World Trade Center. In the picture, you can see parts of one of the twin tower.
The next thing that really got to me, were the many pieces of paper all over lower Manhattan. These were the messges from people looking for loved ones. Just thinking about that still gives me goose bumps. There were on the fences surrounding the WTC scene, they were on every phone booth, they were on a fence around Washington Square - simply everywhere. The mood of the usually so vibrant city was muted.... muffled by silent cries of everyone in that city...

We went back for the six months anniversary of 9/11. We flunked night school, drove into Manhattan and joined the crowds to admire the light towers that had been erected where the twin towers once stood. It was amazing.

After that, we drove to the other side of the river, into Jersey City, to see the entire skyline with the light towers on. What a magnificent sight!

Ten years have past, nine anniversaries that didn't touch me like yesterday. I don't know why, but it just really got to me. We watched a documentary on PBS, called "Engineering Ground Zero". The website says the following about the documentary: "To commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, NOVA presents an epic story of engineering, innovation, and the perseverance of the human spirit."
It was very interesting, actually so interesting that Coqui was just glued to the TV without speaking for an hour! Tears just ran down my cheeks and I couldn't stop crying for two hours. So I decided to write this post.... in memory for what was lost, for the hope of a future and for life that keeps going on, no matter what.
After the documentary, we watched the special news that ran for an hour and a half, exclusively about 9/11 and the ceremonies going on all day yesterday at the three sites, New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. What I liked best about the president's speeches: he prayed and cited the bible multiple times! He quoted Psalm 46: "We will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea." Amen.

Here are a few more pictures for you to contemplate....
 It's kind of like a Before and After series....
 Here, I am standing inside the Financial Center, looking through the glass at the
1.) World Trade Center
2.) at the emptiness of the sky
3.) the rising new Freedom Tower
 The latest picture, taken this August, of One World Trade Center.


Anonymous said...

I didn't mention it in my post, but the eerie silence in the days that followed is actually one of the things I remember most vividly. I never really notice planes flying overhead, because it's such a constant sound, but those days when there were no planes in the air? The deafening silence still rings in my ears to this day.

C. Beth said...

Wow, Ann, I love this post. The photos really "make" the post, as does your honest emotion. It's interesting to me that you, someone who is not from America, was affected so much more deeply than I was, since I'd never been to that part of the country when all this happened. Of course I was affected by it all but it was hard for me to grasp since I'd never seen the towers in person.

Anonymous said...

This is perhaps the fifth time I read this post... For me, it was the nearly volcanic smoke trail, extending endlessly, and beyond the bend of the horizon. I stood ashore on the Sandy Hook just watching it. From my angle I could not see Lady Liberty; just the smoke - which was such a stark contrast to the perfectly starry - and, yes, flightless, - sky. Now, watching the footage, I get the exact feeling of disbelief and exile, I had, standing, right in that moment.