Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering 9/11 - the Personal Side

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.

 

19 comments:

Mason Canyon said...

A small teddy bear can bring comfort to all of us. Thanks for sharing.

I was working from home that morning. I heard about the first tower on the car radio and when I got home I began watching the news on TV. While I was talking with a friend on the phone, the second tower was hit. I told her what was happening and we held the phone line open for a good 20 minutes - mostly filled with silent or me relaying what was happening as she told the others in her office.

God Bless America.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress
Freelance Editing By Mason

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

Thanks for sharing your heart today. And thank you for your Red Cross service.

I was going about my busy Mommy life, when I heard the news. I watched and watched and watched until I realized that what I was watching was people jumping from the towers. The desperation to jump to their deaths, and that I watched them in their last moments is forever seared in my memory. The one I can't forget is the blonde lady in her blue suit. It still makes me cry, knowing she felt she had no other choice.

Maria Zannini said...

I wrote about 9-11 too this morning.

Greg and I were 300 miles apart. Even though he could leave and come be with me, he chose to stay. He's an Incident Commander for a rescue group and his team had been asked to stand ready to mobilize.

It was over a week before I saw him again. When he held me, I never wanted to let him go again.

Kay Theodoratus said...

A always sigh with relief when I think of the destruction of the Twin Towers. My New Yorkie daughter had been offered a job at the top of one of them that summer, but turned it down.

Still, I've never been able to understand why Americans thought they were invulnerable to such violence.

LD Masterson said...

It's funny how we need that human connection in times of trouble. Even someone on the other end of a phone line with neither of you speaking.

LD Masterson said...

Larri - Those images are the hardest. I read somewhere the report of a daycare worker who was herding a bunch of kids away from the WTC before it came down. One of the little ones looked back and said, "Look, the birds are on fire." I've never forgotten that.

LD Masterson said...

I understand that feeling.

LD Masterson said...

Kay - So many stories of people who might have been there except-- that's when we just thank God.

Why may have thought we were invulnerable back then, I don't think we ever will again.

Maryann Miller said...

I was working that morning, too. Actually caught the news before I went to work, as I worked only minutes from home. I was a chaplain at a large hospital in Omaha NE, and I remember having to deal with the reactions from patients who were already in emotional distress over their illness or whatever had brought them to the hospital. Hard time for so many, and we chaplains had our own grief and reactions to deal with.

LD Masterson said...

Maryann - It must have been a hard time to be a chaplain.

Karin said...

We are on the West Coast and I was awakened by a call from my daughter-in-law asking if I had heard from my husband who was scheduled to fly to Florida that morning. When she told me about the hijacking--I panicked--we just didn't know how many flights were involved. Many anxious minutes later he called--his flight was on the tarmac waiting to take off when all flights were cancelled and returned to the gate. It was a very small taste of what so many families went through that day and I cried many tears for them over the next few days. I knew you were there and I thought of you often and sent many prayers your way. Thank you for all your caring--you were able to do what so many of us wished we could have done!!

Cate Masters said...

Amen to that.
9/11 shook me to my core. I was working in Harrisburg, PA at the time. News reports flashed on various web sites. My husband called me - he was driving through Pennsylvania, not far away from Shanksville for my liking, although we didn't know much at the time.
The stories that have been surfacing show how our lives intersect so critically and we're not even aware.
I have a post set up for tomorrow on this on my blog.

LD Masterson said...

Karin - I remember the Captain's close call. Do you remember that Mandy was in China when it happened and Greg didn't know how to get her home? So many people effected in so many ways.

LD Masterson said...

Cate - Thanks for commenting. I'll look for your post tomorrow.

Stephen Tremp said...

I like the no groaner part. I say a prayer for the families of the victims and the nation as a whole as we all are affected ten years after the fact in ways that may never mend fully.

Lydia K said...

I'm going to post my experience on Monday. Thank you so much for sharing and volunteering during that difficult time.

LD Masterson said...

Stephen - Amen

LD Masterson said...

Lydia - I'll look for your post.

Liz Fichera said...

I'll never forget that day. It will be impossible to get through it without crying.