Where Were You on 9/11/01?

I bet we all remember where we were and what we were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001. Vividly.

It was about 8:30 a.m. I had dropped the kids off at school, bought my Grande Mocha at the Starbucks drive thru, and entered the Kinko’s in Atlanta’s Perimeter area. I needed copies of student guides for a sales training class I would be teaching later that week. I queued up my job, stood near a copier, sipped my coffee, and casually glanced up at the screen of the television that was suspended from the store’s ceiling.

My brain, however, could not comprehend what my eyes were seeing…it looked like an airplane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. It was 8:50 a.m.

CNN broke the news: “This just in. You are looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. CNN Center right now is just beginning to work on this story, obviously calling our sources and trying to figure out exactly what happened, but clearly something relatively devastating happening this morning there on the south end of the island of Manhattan…”

“Was that an accident,” someone asked. I suddenly noticed that the few other customers in the store, and the staff, had started to gather near me. We continued to stare at the TV. As we watched, in real-time, another plane hit the second tower. It was 9:05 a.m. These were not accidents.

On that day – September 11, 2001 – in a span of fifteen minutes the world changed. I was glued to the television or the radio all that day and the next one too. As the facts came to light and the sequence of events became clearer, so many of us vacillated between feelings of profound sadness, shock, and the desire to portray attitudes of patriotism. Almost three thousand innocent people died that day. Their lives and profound acts of bravery on that day will not be forgotten.

The days that followed 9/11 are a total blur. In retrospect, I do have a few flashes of related memories though. The tragedy occurred exactly one week before the first day of Rosh Hashanah and my fortieth birthday. My kids refused to get on a plane to fly to New York, so we canceled our trip to celebrate the holiday with family up north. My husband, who was in Germany on business, was to meet us in New York but couldn’t even get on a flight. The kids and I stayed put; my husband finally made it back to Atlanta; and the holiday and my birthday sucked. It was the worst way to start off the New Year and a new decade of life. But, given what other people were going through, we had no right to complain.

Thirteen years later, things in my little bubble have definitely changed.

  • Within one year of 9/11, I left the corporate scene altogether; opting instead to spend quality time with my family, volunteer more in the community, go back to school, and ultimately work in the Jewish non-profit world.
  • My kids are now young adults, embarking on their own lives. I believe that the closeness we share today came about as a result of fifteen minutes on September 11, 2001.
  • I filled in some gaps in my father’s family narrative by starting an ancestry search that revealed relatives I didn’t even know I had and reconnected my dad with long-lost cousins.
  • While the creation of TSA and travel regulations are annoying and often frustrating, I stop and remember the event that caused this necessity. It puts it all in perspective.
  • I now seize every chance I get to visit family for holidays and celebrations. Special moments of togetherness should not be squandered.
  • I take very little for granted and appreciate life’s precious moments. I look for ways to make great memories.
  • Most importantly, I try to bring energy, enthusiasm and a smile to each day. In case it’s my last, that’s how I’d like to be remembered.

As always I pray…  May this next year brings us all new hope, love, understanding, and peace.

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