On the day it happened, I was still sleeping. My husband who, usually gets ready for work quietly, suddenly spoke with subtle, yet alarming concern to inform me that “There’s a fire in NYC and they can’t seem to put it out…”
My first thought was to dismiss it. But my husband- who usually doesn’t watch the 24/7 news cycles- seemed intent on following this story.
So I finally sat up and strained to hear what they were saying on CNBC. There it was, a small fire coming from some windows in a high-rise building. CNBC was the channel my husband watched everyday before heading off to work. Hearing the voice of Mark Haines trying to make sense of the unfolding events was eerie and unsettling; yet he mostly managed to maintain his usual professional composure.
I don’t recall at what point I decided this was serious– I simply remember feeling irritated that the Authorities had not yet put out the fire. My thoughts didn’t jump too far ahead of that. I reasoned City Fire Codes and Ordinaces had been observed, so there was no danger of a Chicago- or San Francisco- style fire burning up the entire city of New York.
I just wanted to go on with my day. I had plans and goals and places to see.
Our daughter was safely playing in the family room, just outside our bedroom door. Ms. Maria, the nanny, had already fed her breakfast and she’d gone for a stroller ride around the neighborhood eating cookies and drinking juice. Ms Maria had been hired to watch her while I studied for my two remaining architectural licensing exams.
Then the words “the plane was intentionally flown directly into the building” suddenly captured my full attention. I ran out into the family room, greeted Ms. Maria, and turned on the bigger screen TV. We both stood and watched in horror as the second plane hit the other tower. My first reaction was to declare: “This is an act of war! Our country has been attacked!”
Ms. Maria, an otherwise non-political person, immediately said: “I bet it was Saddam Hussein!”
But who was he to do that I questioned out loud? I think she said, he is evil and he is the only one capable of such an act.
I was in shock and not fully convinced, but satisfied to at least have some bad guy’s name to (temporarily) blame it on.
My next thoughts were a series of possible unfolding scenarios: Were we facing the imminent threat of nuclear war? Or a hostile takeover of The White House? In an all-out panic, I grabbed my then 18-month old daughter and the cordless home phone, ran outside onto the concrete driveway, and called my mom who was at work and started rambling on for several minutes.
Without taking a breath, I said: “I’m not ready to meet God.” “I don’t want to see my baby’s skin melt off her bones.” “Where can we go to find safety?” “Let’s move to France!” In short, I was hysterical. My top priority was to protect my daughter at all costs. And my next priority was to get right with God.
For me, the tragic events of 9/11 were a clear, stark wake up call.
I’ll never forget the first Sunday back to church a few days after the horrific events. Our Pastor stood to begin his sermon and then he paused and said: “I have nothing to say…” And he then went on to describe our country’s moral state and how he hoped that God’s hedge of protection we’d enjoyed for so long was not down.
The hymns we sang were non-melodic and the words fell heavy in the sanctuary. It seemed nothing could lift our broken, confused spirits.
My journey to find peace with God continued over a period of five years with reading many books, attending Bible studies, meeting with people from my church, praying, listening to uplifting Christian music- interspersed (interrupted, informed?) by the continuous news reports)- and searching for answers to questions I’d never asked before and some that I’d asked but was now in the demand-to-know mode.
I’ll leave it there for now…
Thank you for letting me share.
So, what about you? Where were you on 9/11 and what impact did it have on you personally?
Please feel free to share your unique stories and perspectives in the space provided below.
Tara, I remember vividly that morning when you called me as I was just pulling into the parking garage to go to the office. It is embedded in my memory. None us could ever imagine such a tragic thing could happen to our country. A day we will never forget.
I just saw this post of yours. I was also studying for my 2 remaining registration exams at the time.
The firm I was working at was having some slow times, and asked if anyone was willing to take some unpaid time off, maybe one day a week, and I thought that was perfect for finishing up my exams. I took Tuesdays off.
I had the 2 structures exams left, and that afternoon, I got to the part in my study book about the construction of the Twin Towers. It was so heartbreaking. Needless to say, studying was really difficult that day.
Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for sharing your story. How ironic to be studying the construction of the Twin Towers on the day they were brought down.
As I’ve said about my own journey to licensure: there’s nothing like a terrorist attack to get you moving faster toward your goal!
Looking back, it’s amazing how we were able to move forward despite the uncertainty. I felt comforted whenever I saw the F-16 fighter jets patrolling the airspace at lightning speeds. And seeing the TV news journalist Paula Zahn giving her report the very next day, standing outside in the morning sunshine wearing a bright green, tailored dress– with NYC as her backdrop- she was the embodiment of courage and true American spirit. I did a Google search about her report on 09-12-2001 and found this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paula_Zahn
No doubt we’re still in the midst of the resultant paradigm shift that day ensued.
I’m so glad you shared your story…
Hi Tara. Love your blog! You are amazing.
9/11. As you know, I live in Greece. I remember a lovely warm summer afternoon (morning in the US). My husband was in our computer room and I was reading out on the balcony. My mom called me to tell me that there was a fire at the WTC and to turn on CNN. The evening before, Mom and I happened to have watched the same re-run movie on TV, Towering Inferno, and in our late evening call to say good night, discussed how horrible such an incident would be. Now we were watching it live. Neither she nor I had heard about a plane. I called out to my husband that the WTC was on fire but he didn’t pay much attention. I laid on the bed enjoying the summer breeze and saw, to my horror, a second plane come out of nowhere and fly right into the second tower. I bolted upright and screamed out in horror… Oh my God! That caught my husband’s attention alright.
We spent the rest of the day in agony, trying to get through to our friends in NY over the phone to no avail, all the while eyes glued to the TV, in shock at what we were seeing. I tried to busy myself and calm the panic of not knowing if our friends were alive by cooking but my hands shook so badly that I couldn’t hold the frying pan properly.
I cried, for the country I adore, for the fear, the pain and lives lost in such a sensless act of insanity. I prided myself for not being racist against anyone but all that changed after 9/11. I caught myself being terrified of any foreginers who even looked Arab or was a Muslim. I even panicked one day when an Arab man got on the bus, left a plastic bag on a seat in front of me and then walked to the other end of the bus. I literraly froze and would have bolted out at the next stop if the man had not returned to his seat. He only wanted to punch his bus ticket at the front ticke machine. I felt hate every time I saw Muslims on the streets. It shames me but it’s how I felt.
I was half way around the world but the lunatics who attacked us killed the trust I had for people. I can never forgive their acts.
Thank you Tara for giving us a chance to share our 9/11 experiences.
Hi Fiona! 🙂
Thank you for visiting my blog. I have mentioned to a few people that I have a cousin in Greece who I hope to visit someday soon and here you are posting on my blog! 🙂
First, let me apologize for my delayed response. It took me a while to mull over all that you shared. And then the holidays were upon us and the tide of “must-do’s” swept me away.
Plus, I really wanted to address your concerns about 9/11.
It amazes me how palpable the fear and emotion in your post is even though you were miles away in Greece. I think you expressed it spot on when you wrote: “…the lunatics who attacked [us] killed the trust I had for people.”
Well said. And so honest.
You identify as being an American because you were born and raised here. So you felt attacked, too, even though you haven’t lived in the States for many years. Incredible patriotism. I love it.
After so many years, news reports, books, discussion forums, etc. I’m still trying to make sense out of what really happened that day. It still seems unfathomable. Boiling the act down to “high concept, low technology” doesn’t explain the Why. Why did it happen? Who was behind it? And the more one reads about it, the more confusing and fuzzy the facts grow.
One book that helped me understand how to look upon this evil is “Finding God in the Face of Evil.” by Ed Dobson, c. 2002, Kregel Publications (See page 127 especially).
And now we are facing the continued fallout of the 2008 crash, the Wall Street and mega bank bail outs and the dreaded #FiscalCliff.
On a recent plane flight I saw a new tv channel called http://www.linktv.org. I have no idea if they are legitimate, but they put on a very interesting program tying together many famous people’s observations about America’s corporations, the Federal Reserve and who owns it, how it came to power.
The bottom line seems to suggest that there are a few rich families pulling the strings behind the governments of all countries and their actions are controlled by bankers and corporations.
BUT before I go into full blown conspiracy theory mode, I recall the Psalmist’s words, something about not concerning ourselves with things too mired and complicated to understand with our finite minds.
Let me know if you check out the above-mentioned book.