It’s really hard to imagine that 20 years have gone by. I could still remember the chaos, terror, and confusion of that day. I could still smell the rancid air if I think about it. We all know where we were on 9/11 and if you were from New York, you saw the carnage right before your eyes.
I was teaching that day. I remember my school being put on lockdown and for some reason, I had the only cell phone that would work. My cell phone carrier was not out of the trade center as most were. Some of my students were crying because their parents worked in the towers. I didn’t know at that moment 260 people from my community wouldn’t be coming home. Living only eight miles from the city, it was normal to have a career in Manhattan.
At the World Trade Center (WTC) site in Lower Manhattan, 2,753 people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were intentionally crashed into the north and south towers, or as a result of the crashes.
Seeing It Before My Eyes
When they finally realized there weren’t terrorists driving through the streets, they released us from school. The journalist in me rushed down to the water’s edge, and I started taking photos. Photos of a skyline that would never be the same. All I saw was smoke in the air where two towers once stood. I was utterly sick and frightened.
I went into the city with a few friends and started filming. Now, over 20 years later, I still haven’t watched my footage. I remember the walls of the missing, pockets of people singing New York-themed songs like Frank Sinatra’s classic New York, New York. It was crazy. Utter devastation.
When we worked our way down to Ground Zero, I remember seeing firemen crying. A vision I could never get out of my mind. At that moment we didn’t know how many died, but they did. The smell of burning metal lasted for months.
Of those who perished during the initial attacks and the subsequent collapses of the towers, 343 were New York City firefighters, 23 were New York City police officers and 37 were officers at the Port Authority.
Our World Changed
I had airline tickets for that Friday, Newark to San Francisco, a flight path I knew all too well because I was dating someone on and off in the Bay Area. I was sick to my stomach when I found out that one of the planes that crashed was Newark to San Francisco. What if the terrorists chose that Friday? From that very moment, I had an induced fear of flying.
One World Trade Center’s tower observation deck was specifically constructed with the memory of the Twin Towers in mind. The deck itself begins at 1,362 feet, and a glass parapet extends to 1,368 feet—the exact height of the South and North Towers.
Have you listened to my podcast? Check out The Mom Confidential!
Saying Goodbye to Those We Love
We found out as the days went on the names of those who perished.
I didn’t know Jackie would lose her husband.
I didn’t know I wouldn’t see Jeff again.
I didn’t know my students would lose their parents.
I didn’t know Rob on my softball team was gone.
I didn’t know Chris would lose his brother or Christina would lose her uncle.
I didn’t know I would attend ten-plus funerals and have nightmares for years to come. On that day, 260 innocent souls were taken from our community. It was a very somber and scary time. Everywhere you looked, the American flag would be blowing in the wind. The flag took on a new meaning that day. The flag symbolized unity, that we can’t fall and won’t be taken down. Seeing the flag everywhere meant we stood together as a city and as a nation. During the following weeks, I witnessed so many people come together to cheer on the human race.
One of the trees that was planted around the 9/11 Memorial actually lived through the attack. It is known as the “Survivor Tree.” People were actually able to recover it from the debris and plant it on the site of One World Trade Center. It is a symbol of rebirth and survival.
Becoming a Military Wife
Mayor Giuliani said to go to the city and spend money. “Go out to eat, the city needs your help.” After attending benefit after benefit, we listened to his plea. I went to Asia De Cuba, a trendy hot spot on Madison Avenue. Who knew I would meet my husband that night? Who knew my future of creating four children was standing right in front of me?
I went on to marry Bobby and become a military wife. 9/11 never ended for me because he had to serve in the war in Operation Enduring Freedom. I was in for the long haul with the effects of 9/11. I had to brave up and deal with the fact that my husband was going head-on with those responsible for that solemn day.
Bobby went into Afghanistan with the marines as a Navy dentist. I never thought he was going to be put in harm’s way, but he was. He acted like a medic when needed and went into the villages with the marines facing this horror head-on. I remember on one of his missions he recovered weapons and a 9/11 American flag.
It took 3.1 million hours of labor to clean up 1.8 million tons of debris at Ground Zero.
Check out all my parenting ideas on the City Girl Gone Mom Pinterest board!
Trying to Pick Up the Pieces
I have come to accept that 9/11 will never leave us. It’s hard to believe that over 20 years have gone by. When you live through something like this and when your husband fights in the war, it’s a day that never ends.
I am happy to say the nightmares have slowly dissipated, and my fear has lessened even though we still exist in uncertainty. Like my fellow New Yorkers, I continue on with my faith, praying and moving forward with a little more strength and a little more resilience. 9/11 will always be etched in my chapters, but I won’t let it define who I am. All we can do is educate, honor, and remember. One thing’s for certain: I’ll Never Forget!
Where were you that day? Comment below…
15 thoughts on “Remembering 9/11: The Day That Never Ends”
I don’t know how you wrote this blog, I can barely read it. I’ve never watched the footage you took that day either, but I have a copy of it in my basement.
I still struggle on this day. ?
Do you remember the flag you Corrinne and I made?
Heavy thoughts, still so painful. What a loss to our city and my heart goes out to everyone who lost someone during these horrible attacks.
caroline…. i still have the flag we made…. its in a box somewhere… I love you… We were there together during that time… I will never forget… we drank, we smoked our nerves were shot.. hugs my friend
Wow thank you for sharing that story. Anything regarding 9/11 turns me into a mess, it breaks my heart like none other, and it never gets easier when the years go by. I can’t forget and will never forget because it’s impossible, the feelings are no less today than it was when I found out it happened – I was in college getting ready for class listening to the Today Show when I saw it. I didn’t understand what terrorism was, in my living experience that wasn’t a common thing as it is today. I love New York and every time I go back I think about those beautiful souls who left this world too early.
Thanks for sharing this…. you are so so sweet!! xoxoxo
20 years ago today I woke up 30 mins late for my second week of college…I hated psychology! Got on the A train at 8:45am and proceeded to go even though I was so late. Anyone that’s from NY knows the daily delays on any train especially when you’re running late. That morning there was an eerie silence as the train just crawled into lower Manhattan…until we got to West 4th street…back then there was no phone service underground and to hear a Nextel walkie talkie going off was the strangest thing…A Japanese business man told the train car there was an accident. After about an hour we finally came out the subway to such devastation I’ve never seen in my lifetime…plane parts and building pieces lined the streets even from this distance. The smell of burnt flesh, soot and ash stayed in the air for months after the tragedy, a smell that never leaves you once you’ve experienced it. The country had seen the worst devastation its ever seen on US soil. God only knows why I didn’t make it to my class on time that morning in the building directly across from the towers. I just remember walking through the streets crying…that day I walked the entire island of Manhattan to get home to Washington Heights. God graced myself and many others with many more years of life and we will never forget. #NeverForget #9112001
I was in Germany. I was 15 years old and made my biology homeworks. Then my dad called me from the living room: “come over, come over”.. I didn’t know what He wanted. He watched TV and I thought He watched a movie, but he didn’t. In that moment the second airplan crashed into the tower. It was so horrobile. We watched the whole afternoon and evening the news together. I was 15 and I thought the 3rd World War started.
I was at work & my husband called & told me “Honey, a plane just crashed into the WTC, I was shocked saying… WHAT? thinking, like many, it was an accident. Sadly, turning on the TV and watching the 2nd plane hit and the other attacks. I remember the tears, the fear, the shock & disbelief but I remember how we all came together. All over the country, we were all so kind to each other. We all had one thing in common, Our beloved USA was attacked and we were going to stick together. My heart yearns for that again. I WILL NEVER FORGET!
I’ll never forget that day. It was such a beautiful morning. Then very quickly everything changed. Time stood still. We were holding our breath. That night was so quiet. Being in CT we were close. Many people from CT worked there. I pray for peace for the families on this day every year.
9/11 holds a special place in our hearts for a number of reasons. My family is originally from NY before we moved to the DC area. Dad was with the federal government for over 40 years, including his time in the Navy, until he retired a few years ago. He worked in the WTC in the late 70s and he worked across the street from the Capitol from the late 80s until the mid 90s when we moved to the Chicago area where he continued to work for the federal government until he retired. We didn’t personally know anybody that was lost that day, but our hearts and thoughts were and still are with everybody lost and all those they left behind and those forever changed by the events of that day.
Thank you for sharing your story & for your families service. I was in 7th grade, we had a half day & I was supposed to go to my friends house after school. My mom said I should still go and carry on with my day & we will talk when I got home.
Thanks for sharing. I’m from UK. I picked my 5 year old up from school that day and heard another mum say oh a bomb’s gone off in New York. I went home put on TV and watched like the rest of the world. I watched both towers collapse and the view was from across the water. The reporter said ‘There are No Words’. I never seen that shot or his words replayed but it’s always stuck with me. Ive been to New York twice since and paid respects both times. Went to the museum last time and saw the stair way of hope that been preserved because it saved people. Each time I went to ground zero I looked all around me and tried to imagine what it was like that day and how frightened everyone must have. I’m probably not even close. Sending hugs across the pond
September 11, 2001… it’s a day no American will forget. I remember I was at work when I heard the horrible news. How can any of us forget the days, years that followed ??
Mostly, I remember it being the last time all of America’s people were truly united. How sad, that only tragedy can bring us together. I promise, I will NEVER forget.
Your story is bittersweet… thank you for sharing. I love your family even more. ❤ 🙏
Thanks for sharing your story. I don’t personally know anyone who lost someone they knew on that day, but in reading your blog, I now feel like I do. Even though I was on the faraway island of Maui, I still felt the horror and the loss of that day. I got a call from my ex-husband that morning , which was at least 4 hours after it happened due to the time difference, and since my daughter and I didn’t have cable, we drove over his house to watch on TV. I don’t remember if Skyla even went to school that day – I don’t think she did. We were all just glued to the TV in disbelief. I still acknowledge that day every year and even have it recurring on my calendar. Yesterday I recorded the ceremonies and watched much of it, letting the names be broadcast into my living room for several hours to acknowledge those who lost their lives on that terrible day. We will never forget them.
I would like to also acknowledge something beautiful that came from that fateful time, the joining of you and Bobby and your resulting four beautiful children. You are very blessed.
I Will never forget where I was when this happened. I was living in Morro Bay newly married, getting dressed for work when my brother-in-law called and said turn on the television. I was horrified scared and started crying.
I was pregnant with my daughter and I was working in a hospital in Upstate NY. I remember a bunch of us went into a empty hospital room and turned on the news. We all just stood there in disbelief. Here I am, pregnant, thinking to myself, what kind of world am I bringing this child into? It was so scary. I went home that night and put the TV on and watched the news reports. My hubby worked at the Emergency Communications building(911). I waited for him to get home and we just watched the news. I find it so hard to even watch or listen to news about it. The tears just come.