Repost in remembrance of 9/11/2001.
The baby-boomers have vivid recall and a detailed answer to the question, 'Where were you when Kennedy was shot?'. My generation of X-ers have an equally powerful response to the question, 'Where were you on 9/11/2001?'. The terrorist attacks that occurred on 9/11 is the pivotal moment in history that has shaped my generation.
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001 at approximately 8:50 a.m. my husband, my son Nicolas, and I were driving down Capital Boulevard in Raleigh, North Carolina on our way to a zoning board meeting to protest our neighborhood developer from squeezing 2 houses in a one-acre lot in our cul-de-sac. We all planned to wear red shirts that day so that we would be visible to the panel of members. We had the radio on and heard that a plane had crashed into one of the buildings at the World Trade Center in New York City. Being from the tri-state area and having conducted business in the buildings, our ears perked up. We were shocked as sketchy details were broadcast over the radio. But, we were expected at this meeting and had to participate. We didn't know the scale of the forthcoming disaster.
Around 10:30 a.m. our meeting was over. While we overheard some discussions in the hallway of the government building about what had since transpired, we still did not know the scope of the events. We hopped into the car, put on the radio, and listed to the magnitude of the events of 9/11. Fearing the worst, I immediately picked up my older son, Justin, from his fourth-grade elementary class. I figured if we were gonna die, we would at least be together.
When we arrived home I immediately put on CNN and clicked from channel to channel to see the constant repititious showing of the videos. Needless to say, it was surreal. Tower One, Tower Two, the Pentagon, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the mass of people covered in soot, dust and God knows what else trying to escape Manhattan, it all seemed like a bad movie. I was overwhelmed with tears. At this point I wondered if I knew anyone who may have been in the Twin Towers at the time. Having worked in the insurance industry while living in Connecticut is certainly was conceivable that a colleague or two may have been in the vicinity.
I made a couple of telephone calls to former coworkers and friends and found that, indeed, meetings were scheduled for that day and a number of offices were hit where former work mates may have been.
I lost four former friends and colleagues that day. Even though I now live in Raleigh, North Carolina (a good 11 hour trip from Manhattan) I still feel the pain and crazy emotion of that day. Distance may have removed me from some of the fallout but in my heart I weep with the families and friends that were left behind.
Rudy M. was a colleague from Johnson & Higgins who worked in the claims department. I had heard so many wonderful things about this man from my teammates who were lucky enough to meet him in person. I spoke to him on the telephone a couple of times and his humor, laid-back personality, and positive energy always shined through. I remember reading his obituary which pointed out what a great family man and soccer coach he was.
Rich G. worked in the middle markets department of Johnson & Higgins when I first began my career at J&H as a technical assistant. We worked in the same area and I recall him coming in most mornings with a smile, 'good morning', and infectious laugh. Rich enjoyed playing tennis and was devoted to his wife and family.
Laura L. worked as a broker in the casualty department of Johnson & Higgins. She was smart, motivated, and fun-loving but also very direct. She was studying for her MBA when I knew her. She traveled to Colorado during spring break to go skiing with LeAnn. She had the prettiest green eyes that when she grinned or laughed would squint ever so slightly. Laura and I had interviewed for the same position at J&H; when I heard she was one of the victims of 9/11 I felt guilty for having got that job. I thought about her two very young boys who would grow up without knowing what a wonderful woman she was. I felt guilty that I still could mother my boys.
Bob B. was a friend and co-worker at my first real job out of college at Arkwright Mutual Insurance Company. I worked there from November of 1987 until January of 1990. My desk faced Bob's office for my entire tenure at Arkwright. The door to his office was about six feet away from the edge of my desk. While I wasn't Bob's assistant, I learned a lot from him. His talents and knowledge far surpassed his position as an Underwriter. What I loved most about Bob was his passion for music, his easygoing personality, his amazing sparkling blue/green eyes, and the love for his wife Laura. I have great memories of going to Sam's in Port Chester to enjoy happy hour and shuffleboard with Bob and the gang from work. Bob was a great conversationalist and had trivia in his back pocket about every band or song that was played in the background music of Sam's bar. Bob and his wife Laura were kind enough to let Monica and I stay over their house after we saw the Pink Floyd concert in Long Island. I also remember having the surprise baby shower for Bob at the office before his first baby, Veronica, arrived. I knew he would be a great father.
So, as the ninth anniversary of this tragic event approaches I choose to honor those folks who I knew and actually interacted with. They were some of the thousands that had their lives robbed on that tragic day. I keep their memory alive not only with my own thoughts but I share my experiences with my kids and now through my blog.
The current controversies surrounding the site of the tragedy have me contemplating what is 'right'. In my heart I believe the site of the World Trade Center should be a memorial to all of those that lost their lives. It should allow a place to reflect, read the names of all of those who perished, and be kept a good distance from any commercial venture. As far as the mosque or community center being built near the site, my opinion is that we have to go back to the origin of what our country stands for and why it was established. One of the rights of freedom to practice your religion without persecution should be kept in the forefront of our minds. We were taught in elementary school that the United State of America is a 'melting pot' of different people of various cultures gathering to exercise their right to freedom. To go against this standard would be hypocritical.
Please continue to remember, vividly, the details of where you were on 9/11. We must honor those who unwittingly sacrificed their lives. We must never forget!