Friday, September 11, 2009

We Interrupt This Program

It's cold, wet and windy in Connecticut and New York City today.

As I write this, I'm remembering taking the local train to Manhattan on a beautiful September morning. I was running late dropping my son off at school and missed the express to Grand Central.

Three-quarters of the way in, an announcement came over the loudspeaker. The conductor wasn't sure what to say, so he said there had been an accident. A plane had hit the World Trade Center. Jaded commuters that we were, we nodded and thought, "Some idiot in a single engine aircraft, no doubt."

A minute later, the conductor was back. "No, it was two planes."

And we knew.

I surfaced on West 47th Street and Madison Avenue in time to see the towers fall. In the window of the bank, the television showed the grim details. To my right the plumes of smoke became mountains of ash mushrooming heavenward. In front of me, on the television was the same image.

The word apocalyptic went through my mind.

With each step I took, it grew worse. Washington. Pennsylvania.

The rest of the day was spent bonding with strangers, or perhaps with neighbors, for there were no strangers that day. After arriving at work and checking on my co-workers, I had just one thought: "I must get home to my child."

Eventually I made it home and sat happily in the principal's office, refusing to leave or eat, until the end of the school day. I didn't want to disrupt my son's routine but I needed to be nearby. I had no idea how the day affected people in Connecticut until Benji's first-grade teacher came running into the office, saw me and exhaled, "Thank, God!"

She was in terror of having to tell her first-grader his mother was lost.

We were fortunate. Others were not. For a year I walked past the back of the magnificent building you see above, watching procession after procession prepare to enter to remember those who were lost. Every weekday. For a year.

It was a year of amazing people coming from around the country and the world to help. Of heartbreaking posters with beautiful faces. Of American flags and an ache that needed to be healed.

The world goes on. But the amazing ceremonies in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania remind us of the individuals who were lost. Our heroes in uniform. Our heroes in civilian clothes, coming from every race, religion and 200 countries.

Let us never forget.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

The stories never stop making me cry. I have family that was in NY, experiencing it firsthand like husband was in the air at the time and I too just wanted to gather my family together.