Prompt #4. 9-11 Memories
Like most people who were probably aged 20 and older, I will never forget where I was when I first realized what was happening on 9-11. Mine isn’t the most “exciting” story of where I was, in fact it is probably pretty average. I am going to tell it like I remember it, without checking for factual errors.
I was 31 years old and working for a small recruitment firm that was owned by my boss. It was the day after Labor Day, back to work after the long weekend, the unofficial end of summer. As a Recruiter, my job was based on who was at work elsewhere and the short week was always slow as many people took vacation that week as well. I knew it would be a tough day to “make it happen” as my boss used to say, although I did have one promising candidate who was interviewing in the afternoon.
We all had cubicles and “Mark” who sat behind me, used to keep his radio tuned to an NPR-Classical Music Station. Mark kept it low so that it would not distract anyone. Work began promptly at 8:30. At 9:00, Mark said, “You’re not going to believe it…a plane has crashed into one of the Twin Towers.” “What?”, we all said. “Yes, they think it is a tourist plane.” “Oh, my God”, I said, “It must have been one of those pilots with very little experience.” We all shook our heads sadly. About ten minutes later, Mark said, with kind of a nervous laugh, “You’re never going to believe this. Another plane has crashed into the World Trade Center!” I slid my chair back and I knew. Terrorism; it had to be!
At this point we all got up. Someone ran into my boss’s office and told him what was going on. The internet was no where near as fast back then and when my boss asked if we would like to come to his home and watch what was going on, we all took him up on his offer, except for one of our administrative assistants as our office was still open. I remember her saying she knew who did this. “Who?”, many of us asked. “Osama Bin Laden”, she spat out his name.
I had never heard of him.
I think there were about six of us there. My boss had, I believe, just gotten one of those big, flat-screen Plasma televisions. We could watch the horrific events unfurl as if we were watching a movie.
I remember being in my boss’s den and I was facing the television dead on. My co-workers who were twins were holding hands. They were twenty-four years old and had not lived as much as I had. No one there had ever covered a news story like I had. I was remembering back to the horrible things that I had to cover when I was in radio news. The domestic terrorism by Timothy McVeigh, the first World Trade Center bombing. A part of me, the old “newshound” in me, was thinking about if I was still doing radio, how I would be reporting on it, and what assignment in this enormous, horrific event I would be working on. A part of me wished I still was in the business.
We watched everything live, the Pentagon, the towers, all of them on fire, as well as the surrounding buildings. I remember looking at one of the towers that was burning really badly and thinking, “The tower is going to come down, the tower is going to come down”, but not saying anything to anyone else. Why upset them with my conjecture?
And minutes later we all watched as the tower came tumbling down, like a movie that it is either computer-generated or miniaturized…trying to wrap my mind that this was REAL and that there were so many people in there.
We watched the second tower come down too. I remember the news constantly repeating the footage they had of one of the planes crashing into the towers. Over and over again.
After about two hours we had had enough. My candidate called me and told me he had postponed his interview with our client, and that they had understood. “This isn’t a day for interviewing, or for anything else.” he said. “Except being home with your family.”
When we went back to the office, we were interviewing for another recruiter. She showed up so I and a few others had to interview her. That brought us up to about 1:00 and then my boss said that we could all just go home.
Yes, home. I needed to be home. I needed to be at home with Grant, we were not married yet, holding him. I think Grant had gotten home around the same time as I did. We laid on the couch, in each others arms, just watching the news. I cried and cried and Grant just watched.
I cried every day for two weeks after September 11, 2001.
One of my classmates’ fathers died in the September 11th tragedy. He was on Flight 93, the one where the passengers tried to take back the plane. One of my classmates also died. 70 year old Joe Driscoll of Manalapan, NJ was on his way to Yosemite National Park for his annual hiking trip with some friends. An annual memorial 5K walk, “Walk With Joe”, was set up in his honor. It takes place this Saturday on September 10th. Proceeds from the walk go directly to local area charities such as The Samaritan Center in Manalapan Township, the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA, and the Child Advocacy Center in Freehold, NJ. For more information on the Walk With Joe, please click here.