Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where were you on 9/11?

Everyone knows where they were at on 9/11/2001. I was in my bedroom getting ready for a day of substitute teaching at Sundale School. It was early, like 5:30 AM. I don't usually turn the television on when I'm getting ready AND I don't normally wake up that early for any reason, but for some reason I felt very strange sleeping. Actually, I felt a tap on my shoulder and whisper in my ear to wake up. And turn on the TV. I decided to watch the news. And boy did our lives change forever while I was watching the news.

We all know the story from there. All of us, glued to the television for days, watched in disbelief, horror, sadness, confusion, and experienced a gamut of emotions over this national tragedy.

Two years ago my husband and I traveled to NYC with some good friends. One of our stops was Ground Zero. The World Trade Center, or it's remains.

The NYC skyline - it's just not the same.


The families who lost loved ones have put together one of the most moving memorials I have ever seen. Never before have I come out of an "exhibit" (if you will) with so many emotions publicly displayed. I was a balling mess. Worse than the actual day. I've prepared a few of those images I took for you to reflect on how much this changed our country . . . changed all of our lives, forever.

Inside the 9/11 Memorial, there is a wall full of the MISSING posters that were plastered all around NYC. Pictures of people's loved ones that perished were behind a glass case. HUNDREDS of them. The two pictures that are on the right really hit me hard. In fact, this is the first time I've been able to look at them since our trip . . . 2 years ago. And I have no idea who these people are, but they could have been me.

Artifacts from the wreckage were retrieved and housed at the memorial. The bottom right picture is the flag that was either at the top of the towers or raised on top of the pile of ruble. I can't remember. I just know that every little piece of whatever they recovered means so much to the families and friends that lost loved ones. The artifacts even mean something to strangers, like me.

These next few pictures . . . well, let's just say, get your Kleenex handy. In one room of the memorial, there are tables set up with pencils and these slips of paper. People share their feelings and thoughts on paper and they are posted on the walls and the ceiling. I believe there are grief counselors stationed in the room because it is just truly overwhelming. Here are a few pictures of a sampling of what people wrote. I had to leave the room.

This is a photo of a list of names of everyone who perished due to the attacks on 9/11. People from all over the world perished . . . including someone from the Central Valley. Otis Vincent Tolbert died in the Pentagon.

The NYFD Ladder Co. 10 was the first unit to respond to the 911 call. The unit was directly across the street. Walking by the station gave me chills and tears. It moved me beyond words. I just couldn't imagine how something so familiar to them could be so devastating. The bronze memorial on the side of the building is absolutely gorgeous, but still, I wish it wasn't there due to the circumstances of why it is there.

I really wish I could remember this man's name. He is a trader on Wall Street. After we visited the memorial, we walked to Wall Street to check things out. He was taking a break and gladly welcomed our questions. Of course, he lived the nightmare and lost many friends on 9/11. He recalled with us the dust and smoke that billowed through the streets for days. . . .people running down the streets . . . the posters all over the city. We probably talked to him for over 20 minutes. I felt bad asking him all these personal questions, but he did say it helped to talk about the tragedy. It didn't affect just him, it affected us too.

I'm so thankful we live in a free country. A country that gives us freedom of speech. Even to this day, I feel safe in our country. Sure, walking around New York gave me a bit of an uneasy feeling, but it wasn't because of the people, it was because of it's past. But there is definitely something special about the Statue of Liberty. What she stands for . . . and most importantly, her location. How ironic . . . NYC.

Life is getting back to a normalcy of such on the streets of New York. And I just can't leave this post with such a somber mood, so here's a little giggle for you. Just to prove to you that their economy was headed in the right direction, you can rest easily knowing that my friend and I helped support the streets vendors anytime we thought we were getting a good deal! Wanna buy a purse?