Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Look Back #TBT ~ September 10 and September 11, 2001

Fourteen years ago today, September 10, 2001, my husband was doing an AV gig (Audio Visual) for a trade show at the Marriot WTC (3 World Trade Center). The show was scheduled to be a two-day event, but due to the presenter's prior commitment it was scheduled for the 10th and 12th of September.

My husband was home, by my side, when we heard about the planes crashing into the towers on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Our son, in high school, knew where his dad had worked the day before but didn't realize there was a one-day gap in the presentation. Due to the chaos at his school when the word of the attack spread, he pulled his cell-phone (which was taboo during school hours) from his backpack and ducked into an alcove to call home. There was panic in his voice when he asked "Where's Dad?"

A little while later our daughter, away at an upstate college, also called home to make sure everyone in our family was all right. She headed home and arrived the following day.

I had been horrified watching the television and seeing the tragedy unfolding in lower Manhattan, but it wasn't until I heard my son's panic that it really hit me. My family was blessed that day and spared the direct loss that so many others suffered.

We responded to our local ambulance corps later that day on the 11th to offer whatever help we could. Local residents were walking in, dazed and scared. Our county's EMS system was activated hoping for more survivors and preparing to transport and hospitalize those who could travel so as not to overwhelm the city's hospitals; unfortunately that need never materialized.

Our corps, like so many others, put together a crew to head down to the city. My husband and three other corps members were on that crew. Our youth corps members, my son included, helped to stock the ambulance for the task ahead. The crew consisted of Mark and three members all with the first name of Tom (I understand they later joked that they wanted to trade Mark for another "Tom" from one of the other ambulances!) Like several other ambulances that responded, they waited in the designated staging area in hopes of having patients to transport - most returned home empty.

All four of us, including our two offspring, assisted at the ambulance corps for the next several days. One of our corps members lost a relative in the towers. A local police officer's brother in the FDNY was one of the 343 firefighters who died. In total our county lost more than 80 residents on 9/11.

Through the years since 2001 there have been many deaths associated with Ground Zero dust. Once again I realize how blessed my family has been - the staging area was set up a safe distance from the site (as is EMS response protocol).  [ FDNY adds names of those who died related to rescue and recovery work]

My heart still weeps for the losses suffered that day at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Flight #93 in Pennsylvania. I am proud to have seen the rising and eventual opening of the Freedom Tower (1 World Trade Center) and the 911 Memorial Museum. Lives were forever changed and many of the families who suffered losses that day have worked towards remembrances including scholarships, memorials and support groups. And for a brief time, the city came together in a show of tremendous support and compassion.

9/11 is a day which will live in our hearts and souls forever.

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