It has been 7 years. I wasn't sure I was ready, but I did it anyway. I watched a video of the attack. If you can stomach it, Orac at Respectful Insolence has a private citizen's video of the NY 9/11 attacks and the building collapses on his blog. Apparently, the lengthy video was made by friends of his who lived in a nearby building. Even today, I am filled with such a sense of emptiness...the hollowness in those images that seems to accompany meaningless loss.
And yes, I cried. I cried that day and I cried today.
I remember that morning. It was a beautiful day. I was at home alone. My mother called me to turn on the TV. I did, and I saw the second plane hit. I remember thinking, "we are at war". I heard as the reporters from the Pentagon announced that it also was hit.
There were other planes in the air. At least one other hijacked plane that they knew of. I remember having a knot in my stomach, thinking they were headed to Chicago. My friends in Chicago. The Sears Tower. So many cities might be targets. I had only left Chicago months before. I worried for my brother. I worried for my friends. How many people, I wondered, did I know who worked in the Sears Tower? Were they getting out? And what about my sister? She worked at an army installation. After the Pentagon, were they targeting military installations.
That's when MY phone calls began. I got my brother on the phone. He was not in the city. They were safe. My sister was at work. She was being evasive but assured me that they had an emergency plan in place. My family, at least, was safe.
Then the first tower fell.
I stood there with my mouth gaping open. I remember calculating the loss of life in my head based on my understanding of how many people worked in the Sears Tower. "10-15 thousand", I thought. How many got out? Maybe the building wasn't fully occupied when it was hit. Surely plenty of folks got out. Numbers running through my head. Did half get out? More? Less?
I sat like this, staring at the images and the smoke and listening to the sirens. The second tower fell. How many now? I thought "Double that". I wondered if there were people in the second tower that were as transfixed as I was. Did they just stand there and stare or did they leave the building? I expected there to be 20,000 people dead. When the final totals were only a tenth of that, I actually felt some sense of relief.
As bad as that day was, I went to class that evening. Organic chemistry. Most of the class was missing. There were a handful of us. We were all nervous. I remember telling someone as it suddenly dawned on me. 9-11. They chose 9-11.
But the thing that I remember most were the days that followed. People looking for their loved ones. Faces posted on every upright surface. Light poles, buildings, plywood. Every street corner had someone handing out "lost" sheets as thought they were trying to find a runaway dog, not Mom or Dad or a sister or brother. Not a son or daughter. So many faces. So many bills. Everywhere. So many families. Destroyed.
It was the saddest thing I had ever seen. I doubt I shall ever see anything more pitiful in my life.
2974 innocent lives lost.
19 guilty lives lost.
I have not forgotten, and I'm sure I never will.
21 hours ago