9/11: Wake me up when September ends

I’ve never looked forward to September. I love the summer, so it’s always meant the end of warm – OK, frequently hot – days. And for 17 years it also meant the beginning of another long school year, and that was never a good thing.

But in 2001, September took on a whole new meaning.

Words fail me.

To say September 11, 2001, was a defining moment in my life is an understatement. It brought horror, disbelief, and an unrelenting sadness home on a magnitude of nothing else I had experienced until then. (Since, I’ve endured the death of my father, the loss of a longtime job, the death of my eldest cat, and my mother’s cancer diagnosis – grief-filled to the last.)

Its scope was ceaseless, too. If you lived anywhere in the Tri-State area, the signs of 9/11 were unavoidable no matter where you went. It was nigh impossible for me, because at the time I was working for a daily newspaper in Central New Jersey.

As an editor on the copy desk, I selected state, national and international articles to include in the paper each day, and all of the paper’s local stories also filtered through me. So it’s definitely not an exaggeration to say my work day largely consisted of the devastation in New York, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 became one of the few times in recent memory that the newspaper printed a special edition.

I worked nights at the time, too, so I’d watch 9/11-related programs on television in the morning and late at night, sandwiching a shift full of 9/11 newspaper content in between. It was 9/11, 24/7.

Central Jerseyans were at the heart of many of the stories, too. Most famously was Cranbury (Middlesex County) resident Todd Beamer, who, according to reports, lead a passenger revolt against United Flight 93’s hijackers. Todd’s spirited cry of  “Let’s roll!” became an oft-quoted symbol of the American spirit.

I cried a lot during this time; it was hard not to. And now, 10 years later, it doesn’t take much for me to burst into tears. Heck, I did it just now, while searching through the 9/11 newspapers I’ve collected. Just glancing at the names and faces of the victims and their families, and seeing images of the crumbling towers brings back a torrent of emotions. This is one wound that I don’t know if time will ever heal.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I notice that there are going to be a lot of programs dedicated to the 10th anniversary of 9/11 in the next week. In addition to the ones listed in the aforementioned link, TLC airs “9/11: Heroes of the 88th Floor” (see clip above) tonight at 9. I am always leery of re-enactments – especially ones of this scope and importance – but somehow knowing Chris Noth (“Sex and the City’s” Mr. Big) narrates this special makes me feel better. Bio Channel, meanwhile, has a special 9/11-themed episode of “I Survived…” which airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday (see clip below).

Also, if you’re in the mood for reflecting on 9/11, I highly recommend “Remember Me.” I recently saw it and was very impressed by the romance between Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin, set against the backdrop of a pre-9/11 New York City. The ending, I guarantee, is not one you’ll soon forget.

If you already know the ending of "Remember Me," then you will understand the meaning behind this picture./Photo by Summit Entertainment

Sometimes I'm able to look at this amazingly beautiful image (by photographer Jerry Driendl) without focusing on the pain and loss of 9/11.

But I don’t have to look very far to be reminded of 9/11 on a daily basis. A gorgeous, framed portrait of an unmarred New York City skyline hangs on a wall in my living room. And a similarly beautiful picture of the Twin Towers hugging the Statue of Liberty – which I tore from the September 28, 2001, issue of Entertainment Weekly – has been affixed to my refrigerator for the last decade. I find its accompanying quote – spoken by chief architect Minoru Yamasaki during the construction of the towers – particularly poignant:

“The World Trade Center is a living symbol of man’s dedication to world peace… a representation of man’s belief in humanity, his need for individual dignity, his beliefs in the cooperation of men, and, through cooperation, his ability to find greatness.”

3 Comments

  1. avagacser said,

    September 7, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Thanks for sharing your story, Tammy! Wow, I can’t imagine the stress you went through not knowing if your husband was OK or not. I’ve heard a lot of stories about people missing trains, etc. which made them late that day. It really makes you think that it wasn’t a coincidence. It was definitely a stressful, uncertain day the effects of which still linger today. I’m so glad you’re enjoying my blog, too!

  2. Tammy said,

    September 5, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I still remember trying to call my husband on his cell phone as he was on his way to World Trade. It was the one day he was late..and John is never late. He just happened to be training someone and that person was late, which made them both late. He was on the GWB when the attacks occured. It was hours before I finally knew he was ok…
    A lady i was at work with lost her son in the attacks too. It was awful. He called her to say he was ok and outside. Apperently after he hung up the phone, he went back in to help. And he was never seen or heard from again. I felt so so bad for her….
    When I finally got home that night, I remember being in actual pain…physical pain from feeling that amount of stress.
    Never forget 9/11…..My heart still goes out to all who suffered through that awful day.
    Great blog…btw. I’m enjoying it alot.

  3. Kathy Pohopin Beitel said,

    September 4, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Remember it all too well, never forget it… so vivid and so sad… 😦 still…


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