I Have a Gripe

September 11, 2017

9/11 – 16 Years Later

Filed under: New York,Shanksville,Terrorism — alvb1227 @ 10:10 pm
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So today is that sad day in American history – the anniversary of the attacks of 9/11. This year the word “history” seems even more real to me.

For those of us who were adults, we remember exactly where we were that day. Just like our parents remembered where they were when JFK was killed and our grandparents remembered where they were during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

History.

Now, there is a new generation and for them it is exactly that – history. They don’t remember where they were. They don’t have that personal feeling adults had on that day.

I can tell you that I was just about at the office and the DJ on 104.3 cut in and said there was some kind of “fire or accident at the World Trade Center.” It was believed it was a small personal plane that had some kind of failure.

Within the next 10 minutes it took for me to park my car and get inside, it learned it was definitely something more.

I remember people crowding into my cubicle while my mother put the phone up to the television so we could listen to the news. The Internet couldn’t keep up with all the traffic and we couldn’t get a good connection.

I remember several of us frantically looking for flight information for two of our managers flying out of Newark.

I remember running upstairs to tell our division president our manager’s information and leaving to go to the mother of a best friend from high school because her father worked in the World Trade Center. Thankfully, he made it home safe.

I remember my husband calling me from school to find out what was being said on the news.

I remember crying. A lot.

I remember the smell of the smoke that wafted over from New York into New Jersey.

I remember my friends from our Chicago office calling me to check and make sure I was safe.

WaterfallJust like our parents and grandparents with the “day” of their generations, I can tell you every minute of that day.

Last winter I went to Ground Zero for the first time since it was fully opened to the public. The enormity was the space is simply overwhelming. I was brought to the space after “The Pile” became “The Hole” shortly after Pope John Paul II came to the location to pray by the parents of that same friend that left us sick with worry on that day. At that time it was literally that – a hole. A giant empty space. The only way I can describe the feeling I had was heavy and sad. Profoundly sad. But I felt honored to be given the opportunity to be there and say a prayer.

Now, the space is still sad, but it is a dignified reminder of the people who were killed, the people that survived, and the stories of triumph. Seeing it on the television simply doesn’t do it justice.

While I stood there in quiet thought and prayer, I watched the commuters who passed by in the usual New York speed-walking fashion and wondered how they felt passing that space every day. I thought again of a story I’ve told before. Several years after the first World Trade Center bombing, I went on an interview in one of the towers. The person I met with wanted me to make sure I understood that the job would be at that location. He explained that people were concerned about working in the Towers because of the attack. My answer? I told him I wasn’t worried. “Lightening doesn’t strike twice.”

Boy was I wrong.

I don’t remember the name of the man I met with or even the name of the company. I think about him each year and wonder if he was still working there and if he made it home that day.

For us, this is all history now. And we have a responsibility to share that history with the next generation.

It isn’t enough to say “never forget.” It is “I remember.”

 

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September 11, 2016

15 Years Ago… Gone but not Forgotten

Filed under: New Jersey,New York,Shanksville,Terrorism,Washington D.C. — alvb1227 @ 4:13 pm
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Here we are again, fifteen years later. I sit and listen to the names, the memories from family members, and the music. It seems like it gets harder every year. I didn’t know anyone personally who lost their lives on that terrible day, but I feel like we all lost someone on that day. I feel like all the people lost became part of all our families. I was lucky, the father of one of my best friends from high school, who I have called “Papa Kane” since I was a young teenager, came home that day. He was my first thought after I heard what was

9-11-morrisplains

The 9-11 Memorial in Morris Plains, NJ that remembers two of our Cahners colleagues and the sister of a Cahners colleague.

happening. My other thought was for my two colleagues who were on a plane to Cleveland for business. As soon as we found their flight information and made sure they were safe, I immediately drove to the elementary school where my Momma Kane taught to be with her. I tried to get her to leave and come to my mother’s house, but she wouldn’t budge.

 

As I watch those who read the names, I am struck by all the children. I think about the generation that is growing up now who either weren’t old event to remember, or weren’t even born yet. For those of us who do remember, we are now entrusted with an important task; to help those children understand what happened that day and share our experiences.

When I was in high school and learning about the Vietnam War, one of our teachers invited in two veterans that were former students of Belleville High School. They told us stories and their experiences. I was struck by how different they viewed their service. One was proud. The other, I could still feel his anger. That time became real to me, rather than just facts in a history book. Maybe that’s what teachers should do today. Not talk about the politics of the time, but what we all felt and went through. Help make it a real event for the next generation instead of just facts in their textbooks.

9-11-memorial

My visit to the 9-11 Memorial in February, 2016.

In February, I went to Ground Zero for the first time since shortly after that terrible day. My Momma and Pappa Kane brought me to Ground Zero after The Pile became The Hole, shortly after Pope John Paul II came to visit and pray. I had been there countless times before the attacks, but it was hard to orient myself and imagine where the streets were and where the buildings stood. I saw the tower lights up close. It was overwhelming. I am forever grateful that they brought me to that sacred place so I could pray for those who didn’t come home and be thankful that Pappa did come home. The sheer size of the space the Memorial was overwhelming. While it sits in the middle of the city that  never sleeps, it is quiet there. People spoke in hushed tones and were caring and respectful.

 

I wonder what will happen as time marches on. Will the names stop being read? Every December 7th, I think about Pearl Harbor, but that generation is quickly leaving this world. We remember as Americans, but do we really remember? Will 9-11 face the same fate? I pray not. I pray we always remember. Not just the events of the day, but the people we lost and the people who came home.

September 11, 2015

Fourteen Years Later – Do We Really Remember?

So here it is. The night before the world changed. I’ve been watching my Facebook feed fill up with photos of New York, Washington DC, and Shanksville. Photos of the World Trade Center, New York firefighters and police officers. Comments that say “we will never forget.”

This year, I ask one question – do we really remember?

I get very melancholy as “the day” approaches. I usually ask myself why. Do I have a right to feel this way? I didn’t know anyone who died. I know “people of people.” I wasn’t even in New York. I was in my office in Jersey.

I left work almost immediately. As I drove back to Belleville, and came closer to the smoke – and that smell – it really started to hit me. I felt numb, like thousands of others did, I am sure. I drove directly to the school where my friend’s mother worked. Her husband worked in the Twin Towers and I was worried for him. I had no idea what I could do, but I felt like that’s where I needed to be. I tried to get her to come back to my house, but she wanted to stay put. Thankfully, he was found alive.

I can barely remember what I had for dinner last night, but I remember every minute of that day. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

But by next week, with September 11th in the rear view mirror for another year, I wonder if people really remember or if it is just one day out of each year and that’s it.

I remember a country truly united. I remember standing in line to buy desk flags for every person in my department. I remember seeing flags absolutely everywhere. I remember people bringing food to their emergency responders and saying “thank you.” I remember people being proud to be American.

Now? Not so much.

I feel like we are a country more divided than ever. That this horrific day is nothing more than a political football to push forward whatever the “agenda of the day” is. That there are people who have tried to take advantage of this tragedy for personal gain.

This year I am bouncing between sickened, depressed, and angry. Each emotion for a different thought. A different memory. A different feeling. Even as I write this I know this post is more of a ramble and far less organized than posts in the past.

This year, I’ve seen this graphic going around Facebook:

AtThisMomentMaybe this is part of what got me really thinking. I always think about “that day,” but not really what was going on the night before – all the normal things people do on any given evening. Everyone was worried about their day-to-day crap. The next day none of it mattered.

This morning I had some jerk try to run me off the road because he didn’t like how I merged. I was angry and shaken. You know what? As I sit here writing this, it doesn’t matter at all. I was able to come home at the end of the day, kiss my husband, and say hello to my bird.

The people who were killed by the men (and I don’t even like to call them “men”) who represented pure evil prevented those innocent souls from getting home, kissing their loved ones and having a normal day.

Maybe that’s what it is all about when people say “never forget.”

Never forget what happened that terrible day. Pray for those families who wake up every morning without their loved ones. Remember those who knowingly gave their lives so a plane would go down in a field in Pennsylvania instead of the Capitol Building or the White House. Pray for those who lost their lives due to their service on “the pile.” But also remember to live a good life. That our being here is a gift that should not be squandered, because you never know it will all be over. Live a life your family would be proud of. Try to do something good every day and expect nothing in return. Be a good American.

I think that’s the best way to “never forget.”

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