Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rant #577: 10 Years

Since this is my last Rant of the week--I have to take my son to the doctor tomorrow, so I won't have time to write anything--I thought I would reflect on September 11, 2001, the fateful day we now refer to as 9/11.

The United States had heard of terrorist attacks abroad, but we were fully confident that the systems in place would never allow such an attack on our own soil.

This perception changed that fateful day.

There were attacks on the Pentagon, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, and attacks that might have led to the White House being hit but ended on a field in Pennsylvania.

I remember the day very well.

As usual, I got into work early. I was doing some work--what exactly I can't remember--and a co-worker came in and said, "Did you hear, the World Trade Center was hit by an airplane?"

I put on the closest radio I could find, and the rest, as they say, is history.

My fellow employees streamed into work that day, many sobbing, many not knowing where their loved ones were.

Our place of business is about 20 miles outside of New York City, so many of us had direct fears about the attacks.

I know that I wondered about my father, who drives a yellow cab in New York City. I didn't know where he was for most of that day.

And since my place of business is also attached to the federal government via our coverage of military stores, we were greatly impacted by the terrorist attacks.

Very little work got done that day. All of us had our ears pressed to radios.

The news was going all over the place that day. Although much of what we heard was accurate, one station in New York erroneously reported that the White House had been hit.

I won't name the station, because I almost have to give them a pass for that day. Things were so crazy, that information was swirling around at a rapid pace, and who had a chance to double-check the information?

Anyway, we were let out early that day, but not before we heard and saw some military planes circling our area.

We also smelled something that was foreign to us. Yes, the stench of the burned and bludgeoned World Trade Center buildings had wafted over to us, too.

When I got home, I tried to find out information about my father, to no avail.

I turned on the TV, and the coverage was off and on. Some stations literally could not transmit because their antennas were atop the one building or the other of the fallen World Trade Center complex, and others were working on minimal power, and things were going in and out the entire day.

I did record what I could for posterity. I have a few videotapes of what was going on.

No, I haven't watched them since, but yes, I am glad I recorded them ... for posterity.

I really think it would be difficult to watch them today.

It was late afternoon, and my father was still not heard from.

I remember going outside of the house with my wife, who had also been let off early that day from her job.

My son was just six years old, and my daughter was just 13. I remember talking to my wife about the future, how uncertain it was now that this had happened.

What did it mean for the future of the kids?

At about 7:30 p.m., my father arrived home. It had taken him hours to get out of Manhattan and back to Long Island. He actually had to go into New Jersey to do this.

He told us his story.

He had just dropped off a passenger at the World Trade Center, when another person hailed him down.

The person wanted to go to Harlem, way uptown from the World Trade Center.

He ended up being my father's guardian angel. My father was moving uptown when the planes hit, so he saw and heard everything from a distance.

Thank God for that man, whoever he is. He probably saved my father's life, or at least took him away from the scene of the attack.

Anyway, that is how I look back at 9/11 on its approaching 10th anniversary.

It was a horrible day, but remember, it was a day on the calendar.

People went to work, people were born on that day, people died on that day, with their deaths having nothing to do with the attacks.

People went shopping on that day. People ate breakfast that day.

People bought the newspaper that day. People talked sports that day.

And people experienced our greatest national tragedy to date on the day.

Hopefully, we will never see anything like it again.

It made September 11, 2001, which started off as a day like any other day, into a day that no one will ever, ever forget.

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