This weekend we're all going to be remembering 9/11, which is as it should be. There are so many images we've seen over and over, they're part of our collective memory. But we have our personal memories, too. I think it's fitting that we share some of those.
Everyone remembers where they were when they heard about it. I was working at the American Red Cross then. I hadn't been listening to the news that morning, had no idea what was going on when I walked into my office and was immediately pulled into a meeting. Disaster had struck and we needed to mobilize, nationally and locally. I was sitting in that meeting, half watching the large TV on the wall when I saw the second tower go down. For a moment there was silence, then we pushed on.
I remember the frantic call from my son. They were evacuating his little boy's daycare center, which was located just outside a major Air Force base. There was a fear that military installations would be targeted. My son was on the road and couldn't get there in time.
But my most intense memories came later, when I was assigned to relief operations at the ARC Respite Center, World Trade Center. We had set up in a university building, inside the perimeter around ground zero. A place where the firefighters, police and other emergency personal working the pile could step away, eat, drink, rest, talk before returning to what was probably the most horrific job they would ever do. Most of the memories I have from that time I would rather forget, but I will share this one.
We had set up a sleeping room lined with cots for those that refused to leave the site, to go home and rest. They came in, slept for an hour or two, and went back to work. On each cot, along with the bedding, was placed a small teddy bear. The Red Cross often has teddy bears at shelter sites, to comfort the frightened - usually children. I was working the kitchen that day but happen to pass by the sleeping room. The door was slightly ajar, leaving the first cot in view. The firefighter had simply stepped out of his boots and shed his helmet and coat before falling onto the cot. He was sleeping. And clutched tightly in his arm was a small teddy bear. A very small comfort in a sea of misery. I was grateful we were able to give him that.
Will you share a personal memory of 9/11?
No groaner today. Instead, a simple prayer - God Bless America.