We all have our own personal memories of September 11, 2001. Where we were, what we were doing. The events that cause us to remember what happened on that morning ten years ago today.
I was in Birmingham, at work early, as usual. My boss was somewhere out West on a business trip. I think California, but not sure. I know he was up awfully early, because he called me and told me what was happening that morning. He knew how much I loved New York. He's a native of New York City. Everybody who knows me knows that he put the love of that City into my very being. I always arranged his travel, and he was off to New York every month in those early days that I was his executive assistant. He drew a map of his Island City early in my career with him and marked off the section he called "where I will stay and where I will not stay." He preferred the Plaza, the Palace, and posher parts of Mid-town. I always thought that was funny until I traveled there for the first time, which was Christmas of 1992 and realized the importance of picking the right place to stay. I'll have to say, I'm more a Lower Manhattan kind of a gal, although on that first trip I had the luxury of staying at the Grand Hyatt in Mid-town.
On the morning of the attack on America, he told me to go to the raining room and get the TV, roll it to our department, and turn it on so all our people could see what was going on. I can't tell you how I felt. I just wanted to go someplace by myself and cry. I don't remember anything that happened at work that day. In fact, I don't know that anything did take place. We were all too stunned to do our jobs. I remember we kept hovering together waiting for the next shoe to fall.
In early December that same year, I took my son to the City. It was his first trip. We arrived mid-afternoon on a cloudy, wintry day, which so attractively presents vintage New York. All the Christmas lights were on and twinkling, everything all festive, the tree was up in Rockefeller Center all decorated with red, white, and blue lights, The sun is quite hidden by the skyscrapers in the winter time. I looked forward to that. You can see the lights of the City and all the Christmas lights long before sunset.
There was something unusual though. It was the American flags. There were hundreds of them. They were on every building, lining the streets, draped from the sides and tops of buildings. There was a full-length one in the windows of Trump Tower. The New York Stock Exchange was draped in the biggest one I had ever seen. And flying freely from the back of every FDNY truck was a huge American flag. On the side under the engine number was the icon so familiar to all of us, the Twin Towers covered over by an American flag.
We were staying at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. I had made our reservations prior to 9/11 at the Marriott Financial Center, which is where I loved to stay. But, of course, it was closed down, having taken a damage hit as did every building within several blocks of the World Trade Center.
My son, Peter, arranged the chairs and side table so we could sit in the windows and see the sights in Times Square. But that was not the only site we saw from our windows.The last of the smoke from the rubble rose up from Ground Zero, a constant reminder of what happened just three months before. So many dead, so many hurting over the loss.
At midnight Peter, my nephew, Dewey, and I took the subway to Ground Zero. Remember... just three months since 9/11. The rubble was still piled high and smoldering. The sidewalks all over Lower Manhattan were lined with flowers and stuffed animals, and love letters, cards, and photographs of loved ones. We walked and wept our way to the hole. There was a cabin with a large deck-like porch across the front, a bannister to hold onto for good reason, a myriad memory boards with letters and photographs pinned to it. It was getting very late, and when we approached the site, NYPD stopped us and asked our business there, then they answered their own question.
"Did you want to pay your respects?"
That was exactly what we wanted to do. I remember taking hold of the fence-like bannister and leaning forward, just... well, just not knowing what to do. I was experiencing anger and heartache and every weird emotion all mixed together. I felt someone behind me, though she was not touching me. I turned around and there stood a very tall attractive lady, that is except for the pain on her face. Her eyes were closed and she was agonizing. I tried with all my heart to feel her pain, but I was not feeling what she was. She had obviously lost a loved one to the tragedy. We say we have sympathy for those who lost that day, but do we really? I don't think so. Yes, it hurt all of us. Our way of life was violated and compromised, and our country will never be the same. But the majority of us don't hurt like these people who lost a moving, breathing human being whom they loved.
You say you don't understand why this had to happen. Well, neither do any of us. We live in perilous times. The Apostle Peter told us those times would come. But remember what King David said— "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Psalm 33:12). Our country needs to be called back to the God of our Fathers. We have become so politically correct and consciously concerned about everybody else's god that we have forgotten the true and living God. But no matter what the skeptic has to say, our Jehovah God is still on his throne; Heaven has not forgotten the people of God; and as the old song of the faith says, we will understand it better by and by.