I remember that morning clearly. It’s etched in my mind. 31-years old and six months pregnant with my fourth child. Half asleep, turning on the morning news at 6:30AM. Starting a normal work and school day. Get the oldest to first grade. Watch the two and four-year old hug and kiss daddy goodbye for work.
The TV screen. Rubbing my eyes. What is going on? That can’t be an accident. Getting my husband out of the shower. Telling him – and then the Pentagon. Call my mom. My aunt was on vacation in New York City. No calls going through.
Kids don’t understand. Keep it normal. Take the oldest to school. Dad off to work. Still no calls getting through to New York.
I can’t forget. I am quite sure I never will. And I didn’t even know anyone directly impacted. I had never visited the city.
My aunt eventually got a call out. She was staying in midtown. She was okay. Had been on top of the Twin Towers taking photos a couple of days before. She said there was a smell. The city was completely shut down. She eventually returned home. A long week later – and on a cross-country bus trip since she couldn’t get a flight and was tired of waiting.
15-years later and New York City is now part of our lives. Our child attends school in Manhattan. Her dorm room last year looked right at the Freedom Tower. She says she barely remembers that day. Remembers me crying. The TV. Her four-year old mind comprehended that whatever happened was extremely bad.
She loves New York. We have visited many times. Visited the beautiful 9/11 Museum. Saw the solemn 9/11 Memorial fountains built into the trade center foundations. Saw the Freedom Tower almost finished and then finished. We walked by fire houses where memorials exist, depicting the firefighters each house lost on 9/11. 343 in total. Still unbelievable.
That day. The tragedy. The re-building. The new life in lower Manhattan. It now seems integral to the city’s identity – its toughness and resilience. A ‘don’t mess with us’ feeling. Stubborn resolve.
Ground zero is a beautiful place now. New buildings. New transit center. Re-designed streets. Open space with the Memorial and Museum. Honoring the history while celebrating a resilient hope for the future.
I am guessing in another 20 years I will still remember. That day changed the world my children live in. But I believe it is still a good world.
Many of the little kids on September 11, 2001, including my children, are now in college, forging their place in the world. For my daughter, her studies brought her to the city of ground zero – along with friends from Canada, LA, New Mexico, Italy, New Jersey, The Bronx.
They are building their futures in a city that rebuilt its own over the last 15 years. They are growing and moving forward with a city that refused to shut down and give up.
Some great life lessons from a resilient place. Thank you New York…. all the way from Snoqualmie.