Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Day the World Stood Still

A blue linen suit, a Brooks Brother's shirt,
Tiffany knot cufflinks, and Bass Weejuns


Seven years ago today, 19 hijackers in four airplanes wreaked havoc on our country and set in motion a chain of events that still defy understanding. I was living in California at the time. It was a beautiful day on the West Coast. Fall was in the air. I was getting ready for work when a friend called and said, "NPR is saying a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center." I had visions of a small plane, but when I turned on the news my interest at this oddity turned to shock. I remember standing in front of the television and watching in horror as the second plane banked and flew into the second tower. Then I listened as it was reported that Washington was being attacked. I called my family to make sure they were okay.

I remained riveted to the t.v. as I watched the first tower fall. Reeling in disbelief, I did the only thing I knew to do. I got in my car and headed to work. On the train into San Francisco, we all shared the same emotions and you could see them on our faces: uncertainty, fear, and unity. As we disembarked, the train operator said, "Whether you believe in God or not, may he bless us today and may God bless America." I don't think there was a soul among us who objected.

As I entered the office that morning, my colleagues were gathered in clusters, seeking solace from one another. Months later while on business in New York, our employees in our Manhattan office would show us where they had stood at the windows in their building with a direct line of site to the Trade Center towers and watched the entire event unfold before them. A few of them were unable to get to their homes in the New Jersey suburbs until the next morning. My friend, Adriana, who lives in Brooklyn, would later email me and some friends and tell us how she walked home across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Back at work they told us, if we wanted to stay, we could and if we wanted to go, that was an option as well. Many of us chose to go and be with friends and loved ones. I went down the peninsula and stayed with a friend who was working for a high tech firm. When she arrived at her company, she and her colleagues were turned away from the building because it lies directly beneath the flight path for San Jose International Airport. We watched t.v. until we couldn't anymore. Still uncertain about what was happening in our country, we decided, if we were going to die, we might as well be somewhere beautiful, so we went to the beach and sat in silence staring at the ocean, knowing things would never be the same. Later, I remember watching footage of the last flight to land at San Francisco International being escorted by a fighter jet, then the silence of no commercial flights for several days, but the roar of combat fighters the rest of that day.

I'll stop there, but in case you're wondering about the picture, this is the suit I was wearing that day. I will never forget.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 09/08

14 comments:

Irredento Urbanita said...

I remember the killed innocents of New York and I also remember the innocent killed people (including the democratic president Salvador Allende) by the CIA and Pinochet.

A day to remember.

Valery

Barcelona Daily Photo

Virginia said...

Well said my friend.

Anonymous said...

I will never forget that day. I too remember what I was wearing. I remember the brightness of the sky in the morning as I drove to work. I remember the crisp fall air and the smells of fall. I remember the tears and fear. May God bless this nation and all those who lost that day. I remember...

USelaine said...

I woke up to Bob Edwards narrating what he was seeing on TV. I was renting a room in a farmhouse in Redwood Valley, and the lady of the house wasn't up yet as I left for work, so I pulled her television into view of the kitchen table, leaving it on, before I left. I didn't cry until I got an email from a Hungarian acquaintance, with sympathies. His contact served to remind me that people around the world know that we, too, are a nation of individual humans, not a lock-step monolith of empirial policies. These blogs do that too.

marley said...

Your account of that day as it happened is really moving. I've been watching some of the coverage on TV today and it makes me shiver, remembering that day 7 years ago.

I was working that Tuesday and my boss came into the shop to tell us what had happened. Later on I told a female customer about the dreadful events. She still comes into the shop and often says to me she'll never forget me telling her what had happened.

When I arrived home that evening I turned the TV on and I couldn't believe my eyes. When I see the footage today I still can't believe my eyes.

D.C. Confidential said...

Irredento: Too many lives lost so needlessly.


Virginia: Thank you.


Anonymous: Amen!


USElaine: I think many of us experienced exactly what you describe: numbness and then an outpouring of grief.


Marley: Moments like these are seared in our collective memories and unite us across borders and oceans, don't they?

Maya said...

Wow, great story. I had a somewhat similar experience that morning. I woke up to my radio and a station that normally has no talking, but the announcer was saying something about a building being hit by a plane and I thought I was dreaming. Then, when I turned on the TV, I saw the second plane hit the building real time. Spooky! My co-worker was already at work and called me to say not to come in because they were making everyone leave the building. It is in the path of the tallest building in Seattle and they were worried that that one might be targeted and fall on ours if hit.

I found out later that a friend of mine in NY was one of the people running away from the buildings. We were worried about her and her partner since the apartment they lived in was close by!

D.C. Confidential said...

Maya: Wow. How scary for your friends. 9/11 was a day that will be hard to forget for all of us.

Lily Hydrangea said...

thanks for sharing your story.

babooshka said...

Very poignant moving post. I came home from a photo shoot and saw the second plane go into the tower. I honestly thougt it was a film at first. Dumbstruck. I agree too many lives all round have been lost.

D.C. Confidential said...

Lily: You're welcome. Thank you for stopping here and reading it.


Babooshka: There was a lot about that day that felt like a movie. There are still parts of it that feel that way and I keep hoping I'll wake up and realize it was all just a bad dream. But alas...

Petrea said...

I remember what I was doing, too. I always will.

D.C. Confidential said...

Petrea: It's a day that has left it's indelible mark on all of us, isn't it?

Petrea said...

D.C.: Yes it has. It's gratifying that we still have friends overseas who commemorate it with us. It was Marley from Cheltenham who alerted me to your post.