Thursday, September 9, 2010

Top 10 Reflections of 911

1. "How 'bout driving 95S past the airport on my way home without a plane in the sky? Some scary stuff. You don't notice them until they're gone."

2. "I remember that ironically it was most beautiful day weather wise." "Waking up the next day thinking (hoping) it was all a bad dream. Turning on the tv and passing The Pentagon on my way to work sadly reminded me that no, this was no "asleep" nightmare. It was a living one. " "The massive make shift memorial outside near and facing The Pentagon...from flowers to kids drawings to many people in disbelief. It's very close to busy I-395. But when you stood there, staring at the memorial and the side hit by the plane, you couldn't hear a pin drop."

3. I was at work and received a phone call from my husband that a plane hit one of the twin towers. A co-worker and I turned on the television and watched the 2nd plane hit tower 2 live. We both screamed and I think an expletive came out in union. No, that did not just happen, what the.. is going on? I lasted about two hours at work and went to the boss and he said, ‘go” I wanted to be with my children. I went to the middle school and picked them up, the streets were silent. I still do not regret my panic and wanting to be with my children at that time. Very few parents were there with the same idea. That surprised me. It was just my impulse.

4. Naturally, 9-11 was a Tuesday morning. I was in Miami (there were a lot WORSE places to get stuck!) I didn't get home till Saturday (so, 4 nights 5 days) which was the norm. My son wasn't even 2 years old yet, so it sucked thinking his father was home with him alone! ;-) Some people rented cars at quadruple the price (the car companies capitalized on that drama) and drove home (if they were within a day or so driving distance) with 8-10 people in a car. The poor people that diverted to a city in Gander, Canada there was no place for them to go...a plane full of people and the crew had to sleep in a school auditorium for a week. That was the worst story I heard. No food, little town, everyone tried to help but not equipped to handle...thank god I was already in Miami (on a layover Monday night) and wasn't flying Tuesday morning to have to divert to some weird city because all planes were ordered to land asap. It was weird and surreal. We were calling the hotel "Hotel California" because every day we would get our uniforms on and head on out for pick up to the airport and get to the airport only to find all flights were still cancelled. We would RUN for the van to try and get back to the hotel as quick as possible because so many people were stranded without a place to stay (we wanted to be sure to get our rooms back at the hotel) and were sleeping all over the, in other words, we could check out of the hotel whenever we wanted, we could just never leave, hence, Hotel California. It was so strange to look up and not see or hear any airplanes at all...ever. weird! We finally just went to the airport Friday night and started begging flight attendants and pilots to fly an airplane....a lot of them were too scared and said no...I offered to work a 757 from MIA to LGA but the airlines wouldn't let me since it was supposed to be an International crew and I was domestic. That flight never went; they couldn't get flight attendants to stay on to fly it. The airport was MOBBED with people smelled, because these people were there a week...every time they saw a crew member in uniform the whole crowd would start screaming and crying and clapping and saying FINALLY we're going home. It was really so sad. We all finally got on a 727 airplane from Miami (as passengers, not crew) in the early hours of Saturday morning that was actually going to leave. We taxied out, you could hear a pin drop, the passengers were so quiet. Then a huge bang (from the engine) and we turned around and taxied back to the gate. Everyone screamed. It was scary. 727 airplanes have a record of APU torching (flames from excess fuel coming out of the right engine) on top of a mechanical that flight cancelled. Then another flight to PHL was leaving. We all ran to that flight and got on. Again, it was sooo quiet once onboard. I remember there was an Indian guy talking on a cell phone in a different language (Indian, I suppose) but was making everyone uncomfortable. OF COURSE! You don't have dark skin and sit on an airplane a week after 9-11 talking in a foreign language. A Pilot (dressed in uniform but just sitting in a seat as a passenger) stood up and screamed at the guy to get off the phone. He did, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. we finally landed in PHL Saturday morning and my car was parked at Newark, NJ. So a few people from the flight got together and rented a car to drive up to Newark...keep in mind this was one of the first flights to get out of Miami so, these people were from all over...New York, Pa., Connecticut, etc...they just wanted to get closer...I'll never forget driving up to Newark, NJ (right across the river from NY) and looking over to NY to see the towers gone and it was STILL smoking a week later. Very sad. I probably could go on and on but it is sad.

5. One of my running buddies from Long Island, NY was a fireman in Brooklyn. I'm sure you know that Manhattan is just over the Brooklyn Bridge. His House (firehouse) was designated as First Responder's for anything catastrophic in NYC. They have two shifts of (I believe) less than 10 men on each. I forget whether it was three full days on and four full days off OR that they worked 3-4 12 hour shifts and had the rest of the days off. Not sure it was very long ago and I don't keep in touch anymore. He was just another fireman, a husband, a father, dedicated marathon runner and friend. He was also on (post 911) several TV shows and sporting events for being part of that heroic house and all their herculean efforts trying to recover their fallen brothers bodies. All 10 or whatever their full compliment of men who went in...perished. They were some of the first on the scene and were up in the staircases getting others out alive when it collapsed. Anyway, that week my friend’s shift mate had an event or something he had to go to and asked my friend to switch shifts with him so that he could attend something that weekend. So if he had not switched, it would've been him. Instead, he had just finished his over night shift and was driving home on the Long Island Expressway when he learned of the first plane hitting the tower. Without knowing the fate of his fellow firefighters, he turned around immediately and headed back into Brooklyn to see if he could help. With security eventually shutting down access to Manhattan across all bridges, he found a way to convince authorities to let him through on foot! I believe he spent 6 straight days on site, taking an occasional nap when he had to. His as well as many other hero’s stories that day have been told over and over. He was overwhelmed and angry over the attention it had given them and his only saving grace about the shift change was that he did not initiate it. It still accelerated his retirement though. He was never the same. Please don't use his name, but perhaps you can find more (accurate) information on his experiences somewhere. Mine are from conversations with him while running and from one of our mutual close friends who ran with us.

6. In Nov. '01, myself and several other officers from Radnor, Lower Merion and Narberth PDs were invited to accompany a group who collected and wrapped Christmas gifts for the kids of NYPD, Port Authority PD and FDNY heroes killed on 9/11. Our group, of several buses and police cars were given a VIP motorcycle escort from the Holland Tunnel to Police HQ for a brief ceremony to present the gifts. While the group toured HQ, our escorts took us to Ground Zero. The devastation was overwhelming. A large platform had been built overlooking the site and families of the victims had recently visited there. Many left messages written on the deck and railings. 'I miss you Daddy', 'I love you Honey'. As we stood there looking out over Ground Zero and reading those messages there wasn't a dry eye around. When I got home and my family asked how the day went, I tried to tell them but no words came. Just tears. (I'm having trouble reading this for the same reason). NEVER FORGET!!!

7. I was in Yosemite National Park along with a group tour this June 2010 and you can view a video/audio reflections of new friends and their experience on 911 in the blog.

8. In February 2009 we went to a cd release party in NYC. Randomly we picked a hotel to stay in and when we arrived it was directly across from Ground Zero. Our room was on the 24th floor and I had this incredible view down in the hole. I watched out that window as they moved the dirt around the clock. It is a sobering thing to watch. We also took the tour the next day and our guide was a survivor of Tower 2. All of these tours are headed by survivors or a family member. It is an extraordinary experience to actually live through that day with someone that was there and survived. The job is therapy for these people, a coping mechanism to tell how much something really matters and helps you put the little things in perspective. You get the inside story.

9. Our tour guide told her story. Her office was on the fourth floor of Tower 2. She talked about getting a job in the Twin towers the tallest building in NYC but there was no vantage point being in the lower level. Her friend Ed had an office on the 93rd floor and she used to go up and look out the window and tell him how lucky he was. Ed lost his life that day and she reflects that you must always be careful what you wish for. Her own personal experience was that she entered building 2 and was told to use the stairs “keep moving, don’t look out the window, this building is safe”. They didn’t want the chaos of people out in the courtyard. Her group decided not to pay attention and left the building and stood across the street on the steps of the Brooks Brothers building and saw the 2nd plane hit Tower 2 she said the impact knocked her to the ground, as she joked, “I am not a little woman”. She looked to be over 160lbs. After that blast all she said she remembered was running and then found herself on a bus to Brooklyn and heard the Tower had collapsed.

10. All of these stories reflect reactions to the planes that hit and demolished several buildings in NYC on September 11, 2001 but it certainly can not be forgotten that the Pentagon in Arlington, VA was also hit and the crew and passengers of Flight 93 that crashed in Stoneycreek Township, near Shanksville, PA. We all suffered some kind of loss that day. I can’t even imagine the indelible mark it has made on the immediate families.

I have 2 slideshows in the blog of photos I took of what the area looked like in February 2009, not much has changed. This year will mark 9 years. You can also view the progress at

Everyone has a recollection. Feel free to share yours. You do not need a sign in for my blog comments, you can be anonymous. I monitor all comments in the blog and have yet to omit any. I no longer consider them a personal attack on my character only a reflection of the person making the comment. They may be delayed in posting. I am spending September 11th with #4.

1 comment:

  1. you mean you could hear a pin drop?