Monday, September 11, 2006

Do you remember?

It was a beautiful day, that day. The sun was shining, the sky was the color of a robin's egg, with white specks floating by. It wasn't that hot, a little breezy even, so sitting in the sun wasn't uncomfortable. Do you remember?

I had worked the night before, as usual. As I didn't get home until after 12:30 in the morning, I didn't make it to sleep until at least 1:30. I slept until 9:55, and then got up to watch Rosie. I went into the living room and turned on the television. Kathrin was cooking herself breakfast in the kitchen area and channel 7 wouldn't come on. I flipped through the channels, looking for a reason as to why the antenna would be out. I went down to channel 2, which was coming through, and then back up to 7. I couldn't figure out why the only channel that came through was CBS. I flicked back to CBS and found myself speechless. Do you remember?

I must have called Kathrin in to look at the tv. It didn't really make sense. The towers were only a couple of miles from our apartment, yet we hadn't heard anything. There, on the screen, were the images that none of us can get out of our heads, no matter how hard we try. We crawled out onto our fire escape and struggled to see something. We had a view that let us see just the antenna on the top of the trade center. We saw plumes of smoke billowing in the air, black and thick against the crystal blue sky. Do you remember?

I stuck my head back in the apartment, and watched the tower fall. When I stood back up, the antenna was gone from the skyline. That's when the frantic phone calls started. People had been calling us for hours, but the lines were jammed. We called our mothers. We called our friends. We left and heard messages like "I'm fine. I've heard from Jim, Bob, Sue and Joe. They're fine. Let me know that you're fine, too." Do you remember?

We decided to donate blood, so we walked to the local hospital. All of Jersey City was out on the street, searching for something meaningful to do. When we got to St. Francis, we were told that they weren't dedicating any staff to drawing blood because of the survivors. We were told to go home. Back to that place where the only thing to do was watch in horror. We only had one station at that point. The only station being broadcast in New York was CBS, because it's antenna was on the Empire State Building. Do you remember?

We watched the news. We watched a movie. We watched each other. Then, we watched as the ambulences started pulsing past our apartment window. One after another. Sirens screaming. If you looked out our back windows, you could see, maybe a football field away, the ramp to the Turnpike. The Holland Tunnel was closed to allow the ambulances the freedom to drive where they needed. That was when they thought there would be a lot of ambulances. Do you remember?

The first time I went into Manhattan afterwards was on Friday, September 14th. I got out of the subway at 47th and 6th and started to walk East. When I hit 5th Ave, I looked South. I had always been able to see the towers from there, a beacon , a compass letting you know where you were in the city. The sky looked like it had been ripped apart, like a person being taken out of a photograph. Do you remember?

For weeks afterwards, we were bombarded with the images of the missing. The Path station walls were plastered with posters with pictures taken of the people who fell that day. Playing with their families and smiling for cameras. While I wanted to move on, I was drawn to the humanity of those walls. Do you remember?

It's been 5 years and those images and days are blazed in my head. I heard on the news the other day that 95% of Americans remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard. Do you remember?


Mom (Bannon) said...

I remember....that day all too well. I spent time on the phone with Brad as we watched the towers collapse together. Him in New York (in Harlem) and me in was devastatingly sad...I will never forget. By late morning my phone began to ring off the hook with friends, family, classmates from Furman University and Spartan High, HS teachers of Brad's calling to check to make sure he was not in the Towers that day. They had not heard that he had changed jobs from Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc. and no longer, (thank the Good Lord)worked as an Investments Account Executive on the 73rd floor of the 2nd World Trade Center, and they were terribly concerned about him. His sister's called as soon as they saw the first plane hit the first Tower..They knew Brad worked on Wall Street 'somewhere' and didn't know if he possibly had occasion that morning to be in the restautant At The Top, having breakfast. It was a terribly emotional morning, as were the days and weeks that followed. I must have cried with every story I heard of a family member seaching for a loved one, Mom, Dad, Husband, Wife, Child, Brother, Sister...I knew, but for the Grace of God, that Brad's Dad and I could be there searching also. I literally had nightmares about doing just that over the next several weeks...It was personal with every story I heard, and it hurt so badly. Yes, I remember, and I cannot ever imagine forgetting...I, like most American's, became addicted to the television, and it seemed the more painful it was to watch, the harder it was to turn off. I cried this morning, five years later, when it was again on TV. I will never forget, nor do I want to....My heart breaks for many reasons, not the least being, that America changed at that moment in time forever...An innocence lost as our Goddess of Liberty, holding her lighted torch aloft, watched from her post near the Trade Centers where She had welcomed many to this United States, land of the free, founded on our belief "In God We Trust"....Yes, I remember...

Kathrin Biemann-Monfette said...

One can never forget the chaos and tears, the smoke and burned structures left behind, with thousands of employees not having an office to go to, instead going to bars all over Manhattan including Houston's before noon. I guess only the Government knows the real truth of the secrets that that disturbing day left behind! I hear the ambulance sirens form my apt in L.A, and I am transported back to that day like it was yesterday, it's amazing all the details that have stuck. It's a day that will always be remembered, 20-40 years from now, and for what cause?