Everyone who is old enough to remember ten years ago, has their own 9/11 story. Fortunately, mine is boring. I didn't lose a friend or family member, I don't really know anyone directly who lost a friend or family member, and I was nowhere near New York City, Washington, or Shanksville that Tuesday morning. I did know a few people in the area at the time, and they were all okay. But despite not being directly involved in the horror, every September 11 since 2001 brings everything back. I watch all the coverage, and wish for some reason that I could be there.
On September 11, 2001, I was living in Salt Lake City, Utah. I lost my job about three months earlier so I was unemployed (wow, I've come a long way in ten years haven't I?). My mom called before 7 AM Mountain Time and woke me up. “They're bombing us! They're bombing us!”, she said. Half asleep, I replied, “What are you talking about? Who's bombing us?” “I don't know”, she answered, “but turn on the TV”. I turned on the television just minutes before the second plane struck the World Trade Center's North Tower. I didn't turn it off for three days.
As the shock began to wear off, I wanted to go to New York. Part of it might have been the reporter in me, but part of it was also wanting to get involved in the rescue effort. I got as far as getting out a map to see how long it would take me to get there, but what would what I do when I got there? Where would I stay? And how could I help? I ended up staying where was I was, donated what I could to the relief effort, and watched more TV.
As the tenth anniversary approached, I thought about going to New York again. This time, just to be in the city on 9/11, and to see the memorial. Financial reasons put the kibosh on that idea, but it would have been a cool trip. I was going to rent a car (unlimited mileage), drive to New York (hopefully in three days), be in Manhattan at 8:46 Eastern Time (I hear security wouldn't allow the public too close to Ground Zero), maybe go the Cubs-Mets game (great 9/11 pregame ceremonies), stay the night (at the cheapest hotel I could find), and then go the memorial on Monday (the day it opened to the general public). I could have taken a little more time on the drive home.
But instead I stayed home and got up at 5am to watch the coverage. After that, I watched the Women's Final of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships (also from New York), followed by the Cubs-Mets game. Had I been there, I likely would not have heard the reading of the names, heard the musical performances from James Taylor and Paul Simon, nor seen President Obama, former President George W. Bush, or even Vice President Joe Biden, and his powerful speech from the Pentagon. I likely would have missed the tennis match too, including Serena Williams' tirade at an official for the second time in three years.
Ever since I was a kid, I loved the idea of the World Trade Center. I got to visit twice. The first time was in 1979 (I think). I was with my parents on a trip for my great uncle's 80th birthday. Uncle Marvin took us out to dinner in the Windows of the World restaurant on one of the top floors. I visited again in 1998. It was a foggy December day, so I didn't go up to the Observation Deck. I still walked around the lobby, and looked at the all of the people and all of the things from all over the world. I was there again in 2008, but walking around Ground Zero and the memorial construction site, it obviously wasn't the same, and never will be again. I know I'll visit the memorial in the future, maybe when the new tower opens in 2013.
Photo: I found a nice picture of the World Trade Center taken before the attacks. I'd like to remember the buildings that way, rather than with a gaping hole on the side and smoke pouring out.