Tag Archives: memorials

A Day Like No Others; We Can Bring Back Light

9 Sep

It was my Dad’s 73rd birthday, ten days after the death of my father-in-law. I planned to call my Dad when I got home from the gym and have a nice long chat with him while my children were in school. But the day did not go as planned.

It was September 11, 2001.

I never made it to the gym, while driving there a special alert came on the radio. A plane had flown into the World Trade Tower. I turned my car around and went home. I grew up in New Jersey. My entire family, except for one cousin, lived in the metropolitan New York City area. So many worked and lived in Manhattan. I was a little scared.

My sister worked near to the Towers, and that was where her subway station was located.   It was about 9:40 am NY time. And I needed to hear her voice.

A photo taken by my father on 9/11.

A photo taken by my father on 9/11.

My first call was to my parents. They were watching the Towers from their apartment window. My father was beside himself. We had watched the Towers be built in NYC from the Jersey side. He loved them. In fact, my daughter thought my Dad owned the Towers, he talked about them so much when we drove to their apartment from Newark Airport.

But now he was watching in horror and fear. I told my Mom to give him a camera. The photo you see here of that day was taken by my Dad from their apartment. He never saw the photos he took. He gave me the unexposed film on the Thanksgiving after the Towers were destroyed. He said, “Here, I did what you asked. But I never want to see it again.”

As for my sister, I did not get to speak to her right away. She was in the City, trying to get home.   And all the cell phones were out since the Towers fell. I spoke briefly to my brother in law. He was beyond upset. His anxiety oozed through the phone lines.

So I sat in my house with a neighbor, another New York area transplant. We watched the news, and over and over again watched the Towers fall. We were united in fear, until we heard that both of our sisters were safe.

Then I called the high school where my daughter was a sophomore. “Are they watching this?” I asked the school secretary. “It is on in every classroom,” she told me.

“Then I need to get a note to my daughter. Can I do that today?” I asked. “Tell her that my sister is alive, she is fine.”

“I will send the note right away,” the secretary said.

It wasn’t till 11 that evening that my Dad called to say everyone in my family was accounted for and safe. Not all families had such good news.

A piece of metal from the World Trade Towers in Overland Park, Kansas.

A piece of metal from the World Trade Towers in Overland Park, Kansas.

In Overland Park we have a 9/11 memorial. It has a piece of a steel beam from the towers that were destroyed. Since it opened two years ago, I go on September 11 and sit there for a while and think about my Dad and the changes in NYC and in the USA since the attacks.

The 9/11 Memorial in Kansas tells the story.

The 9/11 Memorial in Kansas tells the story.

They have a ceremony there on September 11. I do not go for that. I wait till everyone is gone. Then I sit and think. I remember my Dad and his love of the Twin Towers, and I think about the changes in the world since the horrid events that day.

This past summer, when I made my annual visit to New Jersey and New York, I went back to the site of the towers. We have many good memories concerning the site, including eating dinner at the Windows on the World restaurant the night before my sister got married.

The imprint of one of the towers.  A fountain of tears.

The imprint of one of the towers. A fountain of tears.

But as I looked into the giant fountains of tears, the footprints of the towers, as I read the names of those who perished, as I saw the beautiful white roses left in the names of victims, I was hushed like all the others who were there.

I did go into the Memorial Museum. I went by myself. It was a mistake. I really think you need to go with someone to be able to share the sorrow. And parents, do not take young children behind the glass doors into the area that advises you not to take children in. No child needs to listen to the voices of those who no longer live or to see the videos of people falling. It was almost too much for me to bear. I did not linger in that area.

As you go down, down, down into the bowels of the ground between the footprints of the towers, you can only imagine the fear of those who were there that day.

It was a day like no other, leading to a world that had changed in a flash of fire. September 11 will never just be another day.

While I add September 11 to days I will never forget, and I think of all those who perished, I also know that we need to stand united.

There are people in the world who are filled with hatred. But I do not believe we should bend to their will. We remember what happen, but we also reach forward to life.

As Anne Frank stated, ““Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

Freedom Tower

We must, in memories of the Towers and those who perished, be candles defying darkness. As the new Freedom Tower nears completion, we know that we can bring back light.