Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering 911

from Mia Marlowe...
On September 11, 2001, we lived in Park City, Utah. It's an idyllic place, rich in history and natural beauty (and ridiculous world class ski runs!) I was making the bed and starting my day like any other morning when my DH called up the stairs to me, "Honey, come here. You need to see this."

While we watched the smoking tower on the news, I had a strange sense of disconnect. It surely wasn't real. Who would purposely fly an airplane into a building? It wasn't within the realm of possible. Once it sank in that indeed someone would do such an outrageously insane thing, I remember the selfish gratitude I felt that my DH wasn't traveling for his work that day and thanked God he was beside me on the couch. We watched the towers fall, the Pentagon take a devastating hit and the courageous passengers of United 93 go down in Pennsylvania. Our world changed before our eyes.

Hospitals in the Big Apple braced for an inundation of casualties that never came. The skies over our country emptied as all airports shut down. We didn't know who was behind this unthinkable attack or how much longer it might go on. By the time it was over, almost 3000 people died that day as a result of terrorism.  

That night, President Bush wrote in his journal, "The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today."

The comparison is apt in some ways. Pearl Harbor was also an attack on our soil, even though Hawaii was still a territory then. The death toll of that early morning bombing was over 2400, similar to 911. But the difference is in 1941, the American public didn't watch the carnage in their living rooms. My inlaws didn't even hear about it till a day later because they didn't turn their radio on that December 7th.

Because we saw what happened on 911, we are changed. I tried not to let it affect me. My DH and I still traveled. A month after the attack, the DH had to go to London for his work and I went with him. The cabbies, the hospitality workers--everyone we talked to there was delighted to see us. Americans had been staying home in droves.

But even though I've tried not to let 911 change my choices, I'm more cautious now. Against my will, I look sideways at people. I don't want to suspect every young middle-eastern man I see, but I am sometimes guilty of that twinge of suspicion.     

Last year, my DH had to travel to Japan for work. I tagged along because I couldn't resist the chance to play tourist. The Japanese people were lovely, warm and welcoming. I wandered around a city of over 12 million souls on my own without even being able to speak the language and I've never felt so safe. It was hard to grasp that the horror of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima and Nagasaki ever happened.

Will the day come when I could travel to Cairo or Tehran and feel that way? I don't know.

But I hope so. 

Where were you on 911? How has it changed you?

Mia hopes you'll join her on her blog for the final days of her 20Days/20Books Reader Appreciation Party. In celebration of her 20th published work, Plaid to the Bone, she's offering daily giveaways and a Grand Prize of a Kindle Paperwhite! 


  1. Excellent post, Mia!
    Like you, I was home getting ready for the day. A neighbor called me and asked if I'd seen the news. I said no, so she just said, "Turn it on. Someone attacked the World Trade Center," and then she hung up to call the next person on her list.

    My DH was already at work, so I sat there alone (it was my day off) and watched in horror. I thought about people I knew in New York. I emailed a woman who lived on Madison Ave and learned that she was in Ireland. Whew!

    I just couldn't fathom what it would be like to worry about a family member who might be working there.

    This morning I remember thinking was that a dozen years ago? And in one way or another, we've been at war ever since.

    It's still inconceivable.

  2. Sister called me to tell me the news. I was writing my second historical book in a little apartment on the outskirts of Dallas, Texas. Husband was at the school where he taught English. I spent the day alone with Sister calling every half hour. She was so worried about me living that close to a big airport. One thing I remember the most is the silence. No airplane noise. None in the sky and complete eerie silence. I'm sure that in NYC it was anything but quiet but I can well imagine the eerie feeling was shared by everyone in our great country.

  3. I was teaching 10th graders that day. It was incredibly difficult to be strong for them when all I wanted to do was break into tears.

  4. I was on my way to my riding lesson in a truck without a working radio when it happened. I arrived at the barn to hear the news from my instructor's wife. My instructor is from Pakistan--normally a very outgoing, personable guy. I had never seen him so subdued--before or since--like the weight of the entire disaster was sitting on his shoulders.
    My father wouldn't buy a Japanese car. He said he'd never forgiven the Japanese for Pearl Harbor. I feel a little strange when I buy clothes that were made in Vietnam. I'm guessing a lot of this generation will feel the same way toward the Middle East. Very sad.

  5. I was about 50 miles from NYC in Florham Park, NJ working for an life insurance company. I remember the day clearly, it was one of those rare crisp fall days, I managed to get a *great* parking spot, my parents were flying out to Chicago that AM and all was right with the world. I had just settled in for the day to do reports for the 15th of the month like I always did, when I heard from my husband (He worked for CITI in the town over) that a small plane hit the WTC. We all hit the internet, the news sites were down, so someone flicked on the break room TV and we saw the second plane hit the other tower.

    When I left that day, I could see the smoke from the WTC in the distance and my heart broke for everyone that was hurt or killed. We were blessed not to lose anyone directly, but everyone knew someone impacted by this attack.

  6. I was getting some routine blood work done. Afterwards, I went to grab some breakfast since I'd fasted for 12 hours beforehand. The TV was on in the restaurant, though the sound was almost muted. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I don't think it fully sank in for me until I was home and logged on to the internet. We have family in New York, so we called to make sure they were OK. They were: none of them was near the WTC that day, but they sounded shell-shocked all the same. Even now, more than a decade later, it's hard to imagine the degree of evil that would conceive of and carry out that kind of attack. And when much of NYC broke out in cheers over Bin Laden's downfall in 2011, I didn't judge. I didn't lose anyone that day. I can only imagine how I'd felt if I had.

  7. Thanks for your post, Mia. I just turned off Channel 2 after I heard them read the third name of someone I'd lost. Bob--a friend from High School, Jean--mom to one of the girls I coached in soccer--and Father Mychal, our former parish priest who baptized our oldest son.

    I was working at the Fitness Center that morning and one of the women called in to say she couldn't make class that morning because she was glued to the TV--a plane had hit one of the WTC towers.

    At that point the size of the plane wasn't known--or extent of the damage.

    She called again when the second plane hit. That's when I started to panic, my DH was supposed to take off out of Newark Airport that morning to fly to FL on business. His secretary made the reservation and all I had was the time and destination--no flight number.

    I tried to keep it together all day for our kids--then 17,15 and 13--while praying and hoping, praying and waiting to hear from their dad.

    I was never able to get through to his office to find out his flight number. At 6pm that night, he was finally able to get through to tell me he was safe and had landed in FL. He said he and his coworker knew something was wrong when the plane flew way out over the Atlantic instead of the normal flight pattern over the land. They were lucky and able to rent one of the last rental cars to make the long drive home.

    I am grateful every day that he is still in my life to love me, watch our children bloom and grow, welcome our first grandbaby and on occasion, annoy the heck out of me. He is my hero and the love of my live.

    I am blessed.

  8. I don't think any of us can help but have been changed by this horrendous event in our lives but it certainly has made me take time to appreciate what I have and those around me.