Thursday, September 11, 2008

My 9/11/01 story

My friend, Jen, asked us to comment on her blog about 9/11/01. Here is a copy of my story.

I had just gotten to my office in Nashville. I always went in early so that I could leave earlier, so we would turn on the tv in the conference room and do little task in there before we had to be at our desk. I turned it on and they were having frantic coverage that they thought a plane had hit the first tower. They were still saying that it might have been a small plane, since it had only happened a few minutes before. Then they determined it was an American Airlines flight and I felt a sense of panic.

My best friend from college was a flight attendant for American Airlines based in New York City. I went to my desk and tried to call her, couldn’t get her and then called her mom in Red Boiling Springs. I said, "Mrs. Shirley, there’s been some sort of accident with an American Airlines flight and I can’t get Anjeanetta on her phone.” That was the first her mom heard of it.

We quickly got off the phone and I went back to the tv, just in time to see the second plane hit in live footage. It was horrific. People were screaming in the background on the tv. I felt terrible, just sick. Of course, Phillip and I touched base and kept in touch all day. His office was in downtown Nashville, and mine was in Hillsboro Village. We continued to watch all morning.

My coworker Kelly came in and we told her what was going on and she began to sob. Her sister worked in Battery Park (Wall Street area). She couldn’t get her on the phone. About halfway through the day, Kelly got word that her sister had touched base. She had been walking to work when the first attack happened and people began to turn and run. She ran to a ferry, caught it and then realized that she had no way back home into Manhattan because they blocked all access to the city so suddenly. A complete stranger told her to come to his home and she spent two days with this complete stranger and his wife before she could get to her own apartment.

The day was somber. We didn’t do any work. Instead, we all watched the tv all day. At 3, our boss let us leave. I tried to find an American flag that night but every place in town was sold out. Phillip and I watched that night as person after person stood sobbing in front of tv cameras, holding pictures of missing loved ones.

In May of 2002, I went to NYC. I flew into LaGuardia during them memorial ceremony they were holding. I was somewhat scared and nervous to be flying in at that exact time. I spent a few days with my friend; she was having a hard time coping. She had been safe, but only because it was her day off. She normally flew the LA-Boston-NYC-Orlando line, which means there is a very, very reasonable chance that she would have died had she been on duty on 9/11/01.

We explored the city, and no one told me that we were almost to ground zero. However, as we crossed the street right near it, I felt the most eerie feeling. I literally felt a shiver and got creeped out just before my friend said, “there it is. That’s ground Zero.” That stuck with me for a long time and I was far more disturbed by it after the experience of literally being on haunted soil. I know that what I felt was a recognition of the souls of those lost that day. I know it was. I had no way of knowing where I was, so the feeling can’t be explained as anticipation. I was clueless that I was approaching it. That summer, I had a lot of “unexplained” depression. However, I knew that it was from the experience at Ground Zero.

And there you go. That’s my story…

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