Monday, September 10, 2007
9/11. Two shittier numbers put together may have never been imagined. Since tommorow is the 6th anniversary of that horrible day, I wanted to put my own two cents in about the day, what the towers meant to me and how it has affected me personally.
Growing up in Jersey, I lived in Jersey City, just across the Hudson River from New York City. What seemed like a brave new world on the other side of that grimy body of water was really just a huge stone's throw away for the residents of my town. During the day, facing the east, you could see the Twin Towers ominously in the distance, standing far and above all the other huge buildings surrounding it. At night..... well at night, the towers took on an otherwordly feel. Most of the building's would be dark with stray floors here and there lit up for cleaning crews and maintenance workers. The antenna on the top of Building 1 was lit in three red segments that stood so high in the night sky that sometimes at first glance it would give of the impression that is was an unidentified aircraft of some sort. I can remember countless trips from my grandfathers in Hoboken as a kid, laying in the back seat of my dad's car and seeing the towers out of the passenger side window, lights flickering in the distance, signalling another night ending in the big city. And another ride back to my crappy place in the world.
It's funny, after seeing the towers every day for almost 20 years and then leaving them, seeing them brought down was unbelievably heart-breaking. Never mind the horrors and the tragedy that befell the victims, rescue workers, poilce and fireman on that day and the months that followed, those heroes can never be forgotten. They were so incredibly brave and deserve any goodness that can come their way for their rest of their lives. Seeing those imposing structures come down in a destructive barrage of cement, glass, plaster, dust, dirt and debris was symbolic to how our country took more than black eye that day. We were dealt a concussion blow. Some would say we are still recovering.
Watching that day unfold at home, on a planned day off, seemed almost like I was fated to watch the entire day play out, hour by hour and minute by minute. I was in bed when the first plane struck. I was watching Sportscenter but during a commercial I flicked through the channels and hit CNN. They had that first burning tower image up on the screen and like everyone else, couldn't understand how a pilot could have lost control so bad that he hit the WTC. It had never happened before so what made today so different? The weather looked gorgeous on tv. No rain, no clouds. Nothing. No sooner than I had that thought than the image of another plane taking aim, LIVE, showed on my tv. I was......paralyzed. I knew something was incredibly wrong. I ran out the door and jumped in my car to see my dad about 5 miles from me. He was disabled and at home and I had promised him that I was going to mow his lawn and take him to lunch. My mom was at work. My wife was at work. When I got to my dad's, the buildings were raging with flames and the news people couldn't grasp the situation much like us. Within minutes, the first tower fell. I think my dad and I said in succession, "what the fuck is going on?" We started panicking. Is this the end of the world? Are we at war? In our own country? Symbolically, I ran out of my parent's front door and standing in the corner of their front yard was a United States flag that I had just taken down a week or so earlier which had gotten twisted in a rash of heavy storms that moved through our area. It just seemed like it HAD to be back up, waving proudly in the warm September Florida air. By the end of the day, we had touched base with most of our families in Jersey and New York and we started to have the events of the day sink in beyond the shock and disgust of the initial acts themselves. We knew the day was going to be forever remembered. And it was horrible to think of the reason that it would.
I made my way back to "Ground Zero" in June of 2002 and seeing the memorials, the barren buildings footprints and the sense of despair that still surrounded that area left me with a feeling of sadness that could never be taken away. I donated money, my wife created handmade pins that she sold for a minimal cost and we donated the take from the sales to the victims. We wanted to do something, and we did, but it just didn't seem like it made a difference. But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that there were thousands of others doing the same and that it WOULD make a difference to someone. A lot of our country has put this date and it's actions in a far corner of their minds because it didn't affect them directly. That is so wrong on so many levels, but our country and it's people have a way of downplaying even the worst acts because it's just too much of a bother to try and relieve or rehash something that can't be wrapped up in a nice, neat half an hour package. It's shameful. But it's the truth.
So to commerate the day, on it's sixth anniversary, I wanted to express my deepest thanks to the brave men and women fighting the war in Iraq for whatever reason they are there for. Every person that lent a hand, a dollar or a minute of their time during that bleak hour in our history, they deserve our recognition. I had an image of the Trade Centers tattoed on my back in October '01. It will never allow me to forget that day, even for a minute. My aunt, who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald in Tower 2, lost her job and her way of life and luckily on that day was able to keep her life because her daughter was sick and she needed to stay home with her. A twist of fate never forgotten. I have a small statue of the towers on my desk at work and a beautiful, one of a kind painting in my family room of the towers at night at home. I didn't lose anyone in particular like so many other's did that day. But I attached myself to the towers and it's a way to always see them in all their glory. I will never forget. The horrors of the day, the victims in all three locations, the resurgence of our people, the bonding of our communities and the love and compassion shown to all those involved in the rescue effort. And most of all, I'll never forget those two metal masterpieces. Steel and mortar can always be rebuilt. But memories are hard to erase. And mine are still there all the time.
Always remember, 9/11/01.