Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Ago…

Ten years ago today I was a junior in high school getting settled into my second week of classes at a small high school in central New Jersey.

Ten years ago today I was 16 years old 2 months away from my drivers license.

Ten years ago today it was my parents 18th wedding anniversary.

Ten years ago today shortly into first period pre-calculus they announced that everyone should report back to our homerooms until further notice.

Ten years ago today my homeroom teacher let us know that an accident had happened at the World Trade Center and was trying to find out more information.

Ten years ago today my teacher was allowed to confirm that a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers…my entire class (including my teacher) thought it must be a horrible mistake made by a small six seater plane or helicopter…that was the only thing we could realistically believe.

Ten years ago today my teacher told us that it was actually a commercial airliner.

Ten years ago today my teacher shared that a second plane had hit…and we all knew something terrible was happening…the first was definitely no accident…

Ten years ago today we found out the Pentagon had also been hit…

Ten years ago today they told us that they had downed all air traffic all over the country…unheard of…

Ten years ago today my teacher informed us that one of the towers had collapsed…and once again everyone (including my teacher) thought that it couldn’t be true…only a few of the floors must have fallen…

Ten years ago today we found out that in fact…the entire building fell...not long followed by the second…and I still truly believed I would go home and see 2 “half towers” sitting there destroyed…as if the top half had fallen over….I was wrong.

Ten years ago today they called all students who had parents who worked in NYC to come down to the front office…we were only 45 minutes away…

Ten years ago today they sent us all home early…I turned on the news and I saw how wrong all my mental images were about everything...it was all even worse…I stared in disbelief…and I cried.

Ten years ago today…I could not stop watching as the footage replayed over and over and over.

Ten years ago today my mom came home from working at the middle school where they had to be way more sensitive about telling the students what was going on…especially when so many had parents working in the city…

Ten years ago today a father in town who had chaperoned one of our HS trips that last spring never came home from his job as a NY Port Authority Police Officer…9 years and 11 months from today…the family called off the search and accept what must have happened.

Nine years and 11 months from today…I secretly hoped he would wake up out of a coma as an unidentified rescued person in a hospital…I couldn’t imagine how hard it would be never even knowing where he wound up to be able to say goodbye…

Ten years ago tomorrow…we could smell it in the air…

Ten years ago tomorrow…they played the The National Anthem and America the Beautiful over the loud speaker at school and had a moment of silence all at the time the first plane hit…and I could not hold back my tears…I was not the only one…and I was not embarrassed…there was no teasing going on at school that day…

Ten years ago…I couldn’t listen to the song Proud To Be An American without crying…

Ten years ago today…still feels like yesterday…

I will never forget what happened, where I was, or the thoughts that ran thought my head on September 11, 2001. The following years continuing through college I would always go to the vigils and each passing year it got a little easier…even though every year the disbelief that it has been <this many> years gets worse. But this year…being sort of a big anniversary…it seems just a little bit harder.

I have happened upon two specials on TV this year so far about that day. Hearing people say my exact thoughts brought me right back there…its been a hard thing to watch…but just like that day…I can’t turn it off. Video footage still has me frozen on the channel…just like that day I still find my hand creeping over my slightly open mouth and my head slightly shaking “no”…tears included.

When I was young we’d always bring visitors for a day in NYC and the Twin Towers were a staple of the skyline and they were usually always one of our stops. Dad always pointed them out when we were driving north on the Turnpike. It’s how I grew up identifying the NYC skyline.

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To this day it still seems very weird that the towers aren’t there. It’s amazing how precious pictures like this have become…

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My sister was watching a special on YouTube…and amazingly among the thousands of missing person fliers at ground zero…the one with the father from my town was in a close up…brought me back to those weeks of hoping he’d turn up in a hospital…how the town came around the family…and how today our new middle school gym is named after him.

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My friend pointed out this map from the New York Times…and I think its fascinating to look at…if you feel so inclined…contribute.

I am be watching the the TV specials airing this morning. I am most likely going to watch the one that starts at 8:46am and goes until 10:48am. I plan on taping either NBC or CBS as well. That will be my way of reflecting on the events…as is this post. Then I will be moving forward with my day as planned. I am hopeful that the next ten years will again grow easier…but I anticipate it getting just a little bit harder again in 2021…

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