Remembering September 11, 2001

Remembering September 11, 2001

It was kind of a golden age, the time before September 11, 2001.

New York Skyline pre-September 11, 2001

Before September 11, there were no concerns about terrorists on American soil. It wasn’t even a thought to most. Air travel was easy. You could get to the airport an hour before your flight and make the flight with no problem, luggage and all. You could pack a lunch and bottles of water and you never had to take off your shoes.

On that morning, I got up extra early so I could get a head start on work. There was a fundraiser that night that I was involved with and I had to go out at lunch and buy a dress, I had to leave early so that I can get there early to help get things set up.

I’d been sitting at my desk working nearly two hours when my phone rang about a quarter of nine. It was somebody from my committee who told me to go look at the TV. I had it on but it been turned down so it was background noise.

I went to the living room and they were showing what had just happened. The first plane had flown into the World Trade Center. We stayed on the phone in disbelief. How the hell could a plane fly into the World Trade Center? Wasn’t there an airspace situation? Was the pilot I’ll? Someone actually flew down


The number of hijackers

We were talking about and then we started talking about how could this happen? And how could somebody accidentally fly low through lower Manhattan and crash into a building. It didn’t make any sense.

And then the second plane hit the other tower. We were silent a while while the realization hit us that this wasn’t an accident. We hung up.


Passengers on the planes that day

The Numbness

I spent the next two hours glued to the television, not believing what I was seen. It only got worse.

A plane hit the Pentagon. Another crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. What was next? So many lives lost, although we wouldn’t know the true number for years.


People killed at the Pentagon

People in Manhattan were jumping to their death rather than perish in the building. I sobbed. Then the buildings collapsed. More lives lost. I didn’t believe anything could happen like that in real life.


People who died in the World Trade Center and surrounding area

Before September 11

Before September 11, travel was easy. Sometimes it was fun.

Many dressed for travel, and not in pajamas or leggings. You went to the airport and you got coffee or tea, and sometimes even breakfast, piling food and beverages in your bag to take on the plane. There wasn’t a limit on your carry ons. You could have three bags, as long as one was a purse.

I’m short in stature and my feet don’t rest flat on a plane’s floor. I always had a bag under my seat that I could pull out a little bit the rest of my feet on and my business case overhead.  


Overall death toll

You were fed on a plane. Short flights had snacks, longer flights had meal service. I remember being in First Class once traveling coast to coast. After a really nice dinner, they brought out a sundae bar. A sundae bar! That was a great flight. Peanut allergies weren’t rampant and sometimes you would get two bags of peanuts!

You could get to the airport totally under the wire. So If you got stuck in traffic or you overslept, no big deal, you could still make your flight, WITH luggage. I flew in and out of Oakland a lot. It was much smaller then, easy to get in and out of. I could get to the airport 45 minutes before my plane left, park the car and be on the plane on time. It was amazing.


People injured

After September 11

September 11 Memorial

The first time I ran late after September 11, it didn’t work. I missed my flight. I missed a few flights because I got the timing down. And when they said you had to be there at least an hour ahead, they meant it. And then the hour turned into an hour and a half. Then I started making it two hours because I was tired of the stress. The security lines were longer, they were checking more people, and we had to take off our shoes.

 I never liked taking off my shoes. I often wear flip flops. There’s no place to hide anything in a flip flop. But they still made me take them off. And I don’t like my feet touching that floor. I don’t know why. Silly probably. I’m sure Touch worse things during the course of an average day.


Now It feels like a cattle call. You can’t take a bottle of water, you can’t even take toiletries unless they are tiny. I had a bottle of wine taken from me at the security gate at LAX once. They said it could contain explosives. I gave them my corkscrew (which they totally missed) and told them I hoped they enjoyed it. I’m sure I’m on a list somewhere for being snarky.

The Anger and the Sadness

I was angry and sad that day. I still am. This day comes around every year. Every year I spend the morning crying. I pull it together when I get to work, and start again when I leave. My strange little tradition.


People who worked, lived or studied in Lower Manhattan at the time of the attacks diagnosed with cancer

These things have happened in other places. Not here. I would be angry and sad for those affected, but this was different. This was personal. When It happened here, my anger was totally different. The actions of the terrorists on that single day changed our world forever. Innocence was lost. We had become one of them.

And Now…

There’s so much now that has changed. I’m still afraid to fly. I wasn’t before, but the first time I got on a plane after? Bad anxiety attack. It was the first of many.

remembering rescue workers from September 11

There’s now a sense of fear that we didn’t have before. We are Leary, we scrutinize, and we are sometimes afraid. There’s fear-mongering and people who take advantage of those things.


Rescue workers who responded to the scene at Ground Zero in the days and months after the attacks who have died.

It’s simply different now.

There is good and bad in this world of ours, and I truly believe that there is evil also. We saw it that day. Evil. Everything changed. It’s a very different world than it was 18 years ago.

National September 11 Memorial

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