Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nine Eleven

It was a Tuesday morning in 2001, just like this year. It seems impossible that 6 years have so quickly passed.

Mom and Dad and I were sitting at their little breakfast table. It was coffee break time. We had been having coffee break at 9:30 every morning since I had come to live with my parents. I had prepared coffee and a few cookies. That morning Dad had opened the gate and retrieved the paper and it was on the table. We were enjoying each other's company and visiting. Mom was using her fragile china cup and dad had his insulated plastic cup.

Mom's health was declining. I did not realize how much until I looked at photos. But that was something that happened later. Today, as usual, the TV was tuned to the Today Show. Mom really liked Katie Couric.

It was only a few minutes after I had poured the coffee that I heard someone on TV say that a plane had hit one of the twin towers in New York City. I thought it must be an accident. I envisioned a small plane flying into the building. I also thought of the restaurant, Windows on the World, that was on top of the north tower. My daughter had won a trip to New York City as part of a school competition and had dined there. I wondered if anyone was there this early and if it had been hit. I could not help but think of other parents with other daughters who undoubtedly were visiting New York City.

In just a few minutes the TV was showing images of the twin towers and one was on fire. While we were watching, a large, fast commercial airplane crashed into the other tower. It was flying so fast. We knew then it wasn't accidental. This photo is from the observation deck of the south tower.

Not long after we heard about the Pentagon and we understood it was an attack on the United States. For the next several days I found myself unable to do much more than watch the coverage. I tried many times to do something, anything. I had projects that required my attention. But I could not tear myself away from the images on the TV screen. And I watched much of the coverage repeatedly, again and again.

I recall walking outside and it was so quiet. There were no planes. I remembered the Oklahoma City bombing just a few years earlier.

There are many ways to think about the event and to write about it. But there are three thoughts that always dominate my thinking about Nine Eleven.

The first is that so many lives were spared. Honestly when I saw that second plane slam into the building I thought to myself that there might be tens of thousands of casualties. I wasn't the only one that thought that either because not long afterwards I heard people on TV speculating about how many people might be trapped in the buildings. Later it was learned that more than 17,000 people were in the two buildings at the time of the crash. That there were fewer than 3,000 deaths seems amazing to me. United 93 that was crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania had 37 passengers out of 182 seats; 81 on Flight 11; and, just more than 50 each on the other two flights. Only 125 people were killed at the Pentagon, the largest office building in the world.

The second is that so many people were willing to give their own lives trying to save other people. More than 400 of the deaths were fire fighters, police, and other officials. There were so many individual acts of heroism. Their selflessness, faith, and regard for human life stands so starkly in contrast to the selfishness, despair, and disdain of life shown by the murderers.

The third is the story of United 93 that was crashed near Shanksville, PA. The 9/11 commission concluded that the passengers of this plane attempted to take control of the airplane from the terrorists and the latter crashed the plane as a result. Much of what is known is because of cell phone calls made by various passengers. It is also clear that the passengers learned what had happened to other planes from these same cell phone conversations. So they acted together to save themselves and others.

I do think of the victims and the families who lost loved ones. I learned that Windows on the World was open and serving breakfast. Murdered there were 73 restaurant staff members, 16 waiters, and 71 guests, a total of 160 human lives.

Invariably I remember that in just over 1 month from that date I will celebrate the birth of a grandson. And in just under 2 months I will mourn the death of my mother. The woman who would become my wife 3 years later had just buried her father and was going through difficult times with her son's health. And my dad's diagnosis had just been accomplished. 2001 was a difficult year.

This rendering is what the Freedom Tower is supposed to look like. It is proposed to be 1,776 feet tall. It will contain some 2.6 million square feet of space.

The observation deck is taller than the twin towers.

Construction began in 2004 but was then delayed until 2006. It is still ongoing and is expected to be topped out in 2010 and completed by 2012.

The cost is projected to be in excess of $3 billion. That works out to some $1,150 per square foot.

It will not be the tallest building in the world but the 1,776 foot number was selected to symbolize the year of United States' independence.


Lori1955 said...

I don't think anyone will ever forget that day. I was on vacation from work and went to get on the computer to check the stock market. A message came on that due to the attacks on the WTC, the stock market was closed.
For the next few days I couldn't tear myself away from the television. Two months later, Helen was diagnosed with AD. Yes it wasn't a good year.

SKYGIRL said...

My girlfriend in California had called me, I hadn't even turned on the Television, and I do not get a News Paper. She said "We are being attacked! They have attacked New York, and next is "The Golden Gate Bridge!" I said, "O.K. calm down... (she tends to exagerate, and I was hoping this was the case, it wasn't.

My thoughts were not much different than they are today. I immediately was worried about my Mom, who lives very close to "The Golden Gate Bridge" Then they grounded all Airlines, for the first time in our National History! This 'freaked' me out, because it created a barrier between me & my Mom. As soon as they lifted it, I was off on the first flight to see her.

You would think we would've felt pretty safe here in Montana, but do you know that they were having an Emergency State Management meeting, up her in "Big Sky" and there were 50 Men, all respresenting a different State, that had to be summoned home, to do their jobs? I have always thought this may have not been a coincidence.

It was very 'eery' to see the only planes flying over head, were huge green Army or Navy Jets, flying these Men home, to see what they could do for their States.

I have dedicated my "Blog" today to the family memebers of those that were lost, the people still suffering personal injury, and even the eye-witnesses of this horrendous attack.

steflovesnonna said...

I liked your post about this topic. Thank you for posting the last image in particular.

nancy said...

yes, i think most people will always remember what they were doing on the morning of 9/11/2001. thanks for sharing your recollection.

~Betsy said...

There is a country song out about shaking the cage of a sleeping dog. I always liked that. I am particularly proud of my daughter's fiance and my daughter's best friend - they both enlisted after the attacks and knew what the price could be.