Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where were you?

It is hard to relive the day of September 11, 2001. I, in fact, am avoiding most of the commemorative shows and events. Not because I am not moved or touched, but because sometimes you have to guard your heart.

That said, I well remember where I was and what was happening around me that day. We lived in Central New Jersey at the time - within commuting distance of NYC. Many of my daughter's friends had parents working in the city on a daily basis.

When my secretary told me about the first plane, I assumed it was a little Cessna that had gone astray. When she told me about the second plane, I looked up and said, "We're under attack!" Both of us tried to get details - she from NPR and me from the internet. To my frustration, my reliable standby website for breaking news, CNN, had already crashed from the overwhelming internet traffic. Ditto for the New York Times. Eventually I found that Princeton University had made the CNN satellite feed available on its website, and I sat transfixed with horror as the plane crashes were replayed and as the Twin Towers fell again and again and again.

My employer sent us home early, which was just as well since I had a very distressed teenage daughter waiting for me. The father of one of her dearest friends worked in Manhattan. He hadn't been heard from and there was good reason to be worried - his office was across the street from the WTC. Thankfully, it turned out that he was safe and had been making his way home all day. He walked in the door that evening, having been unable to get through with his cell phone due to the overloaded circuits.

One of my co-workers was not as fortunate. Her husband worked for an IT company that sent him to various venues each week. September 11 was his day to work at the WTC, and, sadly, he lost his life in the tragedy.

Word came round that our church would be open for prayer that evening. Many of us sat in the silence for a long time, tears streaming down our faces.

A surreal and horrifying day for all of us. As the stories of bravery rolled in, I marveled at the nobler side of humanity. I still do, and I hope it does not take another national tragedy to bring that side to the fore once again.

Where were you?

- Catherine

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