In An Empire State of Mind

What I remember:

~Watching “The Today Show” and sharing Matt Lauer and Katie Couric’s horror as the second plane hit the towers, confirming that the first plane’s impact was no accident. Learning about the third plane crashing into the Pentagon and the fourth, United Flight 93, crashing into the field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania was almost unbearable.

~Getting a frantic phone call from Jim and together debating whether we should pull our kids, then nine and six, from school (we didn’t).

~Staring at the news coverage for hours at a time as they played the video clips over and over again.

~Watching my sister (who had moved back to this area about eighteen months before that day after working in Manhattan for a couple of years), horrified as she watched the news coverage on my couch, worrying about some of her best friends as she waited for confirmation that they were alright (they were) and heartbroken over the devastation in her adopted hometown.

~Being grateful beyond words that my sister had moved back here: she used to take the PATH train from her apartment in New Jersey to the World Trade Center station and would have been grabbing her connection to SoHo in the belly of the towers right around the time of the attacks.

~Being in total awe over Mayor Giuliani and the way he gracefully handled the September 11 events with better coping skills than anyone ever could have expected.

~The entire country coming together, oozing patriotic spirit.

~Driving through my neighborhood and seeing American flags swaying in the breeze outside of almost every house.

What I’m thinking about today:

~How I still have so much admiration and appreciation for firefighters, police officers, and other emergency personnel as well as our military.

~New York may have been down, but it’s not out and never was. It remains one of the best cities in the world.

~The children, spouses, parents, siblings, extended families, and friends who lost loved ones on that day, and how this week–and especially this anniversary day–must hurt.

You know, those of us who weren’t directly affected in some way by the attacks ten years ago can’t truly understand the pain involved for those who were. Last year while in New York City for the Blogher conference, I was on a scenic bus tour with my friend Patty. As our bus drove closer to Ground Zero, she became more and more nervous. I found out that she had not been to the area since before the attacks (nine years!). Patty did not work in lower Manhattan, but like so many other New Yorkers, she spent 9/11/01 in a panic, worried about loved ones and trying to figure out how to get home. The fact that she worked near Times Square and lived in Queens made her long journey home confusing, stressful, and scary that day. As she cried from the seat in front of me when our bus arrived at Ground Zero last year–the pain still deep and raw in her pretty eyes–I saw for the first time, up close, the long-term impact of someone’s whole world turning upside down in the course of just a few moments on one beautiful, cloudless September morning. I will be thinking of all my New York friends today, but especially Patty. (Love you, Patty! xoxo)

And today, just like on that day ten years ago, I consider myself to be a New Yorker through and through.


  • Patty @ A Day in My NYC

    My dear Melisa I love you so much. I had forgotten about the day on the tour bus,it’s always so raw. The memories and the loss. On this day when so many lost so much I’m so grateful for loving people like you. It makes my heavy heart feel better. Tears filled my eyes as I read your sister commuted via WTC. Thank goodness she was safely home in Chicago. xoxo

  • Erica

    he events of 9/11/01 hold a special significance for me because I grew up in New York. As a matter of fact, I celebrated my 21st birthday at “Windows on the World,” the restaurant at the top of WTC tower 1, and my 2nd job after I graduated college was on the 98th floor of WTC 2. Many of my family and friends were still living in New York and the immediate area.
    I was teaching an adult computer programming class at a school in Villa Park. One of my students walked into class late and loudly announced that “an airplane flew into the World Trade Center!” We all asked him how he knew, and his response was “Mancow (a local DJ) said so.” We immediately tried to get on the internet and find out what was going on. Traffic to the New York television sites was so heavy, we weren’t able to load any information. We finally were able to see what was actually going on by going to the BBC website. The school director brought a TV set into my classroom and we all watched in horror as a 2nd plane flew into the other tower.
    I tried to call my family in New York, but it was impossible to get through. I panicked. I remember calling my son’s elementary school (he was in kindergarten at the time) to find out if the kids had been told. The principal said that some of the late comers to school had made casual reference to events, but that they were keeping the classes on lockdown “just in case.” He encouraged me to leave my son there, and pick him up at the normal dismissal time.
    I was unable to continue teaching that day, so I asked my school director if I could go home. I picked up my kids at lunch that day, and kept them home the following day, while I continued to try and contact my family in New York. My husband and I even considered driving back east to see our families.
    One of my husband’s best friends from high school was working at the WTC at the time. He was in the 2nd tower that was hit. When the 1st tower was hit, his company began to evacuate the other building. He started walking down the 98 flights of stairs to leave the building. He was about ¾ of the way down, when the “all clear” was sounded, and they were all told to go back to work. George decided he wasn’t going back upstairs; he was going home. It’s a good thing he did. Shortly after they sounded the “all clear” a 2nd plane hit the remaining tower. All of the people that he worked with died that day.
    My brother-in-law was a volunteer firefighter on Long Island and my father-in-law was a NYC policeman. They were part of a very close knit community and were friendly with many of the first responders who died that day.
    The school I was teaching at had a branch across the street from the WTC. Many of the instructors I was friendly with were injured when the towers came down.
    One of  the things that will stay with me is how quiet it was in the air over Chicago while all the flights were grounded.

    While I have been back to New York plenty of times in the past 10 years, I have not been down to the Ground Zero site. I don’t know if I ever will.

  • Gene

    Today is my daughter’s birthday, so this day has a different meaning for me.

    Also, that song is my and my friend Jessica’s jam.

  • Grandma W

    We were in Mississippi and I was still home before work. The today show was on when they showed the first plane hitting the tower. I couldn’t stop watching the TV worried about all the people there and not knowing what was going to happen. Our world was turned upside down and inside out that day. This country is so precious and still people forget what happened that day, but I will never forget. I’m very thankful that we helped move Julie from there when we did.

  • Tara R.

    I was driving home from dropping my son at school, and heard the news on the radio. My husband is a defense contractor on an Air Force Base. I called him and he told me the base was on Full Lock Down. That was what made it all so real, that an attack had been made on American soil.

  • Liz

    The kids and I were watching the memorial and dedication service and my oldest (who was 7 in 2001) said her earliest memories are of us driving by the waterfront on the way home from preschool. She would close one eye and playfully place her index finger in between the towers. The view from across the river has never been the same.