Wednesday, September 11, 2013

12 Years Ago Today

Yesterday my Ethan turned 12. My sweet, emotion driven athlete. 12 years ago today I woke in the hospital by my OB/GYN saying "We were just attacked by Paris?" WTH? was all I could think of while trying to wake. My confusion registered because my physician again stated, "We were just attacked by terrorists." He flipped on the TV for us to see the 2nd plane fly into the 2nd tower. My heart fell and I instantly asked myself what kind of world did I just deliver this sweet innocent baby into? For the next few weeks all I could watch was coverage on one of the worst days in history for the United States during every waking moment with a newborn. Many moments I held him to feed and just cried while staring at the television often until the wee hours of the morning.
Today marks the 12the anniversary and it all feels so real and raw as if it happened yesterday.
3000 people lost their lives so innocently. Many died running into the building to save anybody and everybody while others died trying to run out.

Many images are forever ingrained into my mind, but the ones that stand out the most are the photos of the people of NYC covered in ash emerging from somewhere close to the chaos. There wasn't a look of panic on their faces or sadness or weariness, just a look of pure emptiness. A total state of shock. I wanted to wrap my arms around them and tell them that in a moment brought on by pure hatred, they were safe and loved. What broke my heart was I couldn't do that to the 3000 that lost their lives that day. I couldn't do that to the moms, dads, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, children, unborn children of those 3000 who perished.

Fire Chaplain Mychal Judge who most think lost his life while giving last rites to a fallen firefighter by falling debris. What most of us didn't know is that he went back into the north tower after giving that fallen firefighter his last rites. He was hit in the head from falling debris when the south tower collapsed. The image I will never forget is of the firefighters carrying his lifeless body slumped in a chair away from any more danger.

The most disturbing images from that day are of the jumpers. I choke up just thinking about how horrible the experience was for them being trapped on those burning floors. Feeling as if all of their options had exhausted in escaping the horror. That feeling of suffocating from the heat, the smoke, the fumes, and the smell of death. Over 200 people flung themselves from the WTC that day because they had no other choice. They were forced to make a choice no one should ever have to make. I want to believe in those last 10 seconds of their lives they weren't falling to their deaths 100 stories below, but to be out in the air, they were flying.

In October of 2001, I had to fly East for work. I went as close as I could to Ground Zero. I walked along the perimeter of the chain link fence they had established around the site. I walked along the closed up shops and restaurants. Looking in the windows, the interiors were still covered in ash. Some windows displayed the piles of ash form that September day. I stood mesmerized by the wall of photos of loved ones lost that had been hung on a makeshift chain linked fence outside a Cathedral. People were still leaving messages and shoving them in the links. Others signed their names and words of comfort on posters of the flight crews. Flowers, American flags, teddy bears and candles were all on display. I had never been more proud to be an American standing among these strangers.

I am hoping no one will forget that awful day. I am hoping no one will ever want to forget the 3000 that died that day, the first responders who rushed inside to save lives, the flight crews on board all four flights, the passengers of those planes, "Let's Roll," the jumpers, Father Mychal Judge, the families of all 3000 victims, and that moment when you heard the news.


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