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Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11/09 Where were you?

What were you doing last night? I was watching the Steelers win the kickoff NFL game (BTW the Penguins were at the White House yesterday meeting the President)! But do you remember where you were and what were you doing on 9/11/01? I find it's sometimes cathartic to talk about traumatic events.

What a defining day in our lives. I think this day will resound with my generation as Pearl Harbour Day does with my parents. I'm sure most of you remember where you were. There are very few days in my life where I can tell you where I was and what I was doing at the time…Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, my wedding, the Challenger disaster, my three children's births and a handful of other days. On 9/11/01 I was with DH on one of a handful of pre/post business trips I've joined him on. My Mom had come from Columbus to watch our 3 kids so I could join DH for two days before his convention in Las Vegas, of all places! It was my first trip there and I'd put our names on a waiting list for the Cirque du Soleil 'O' show (the one that is in/over a giant pool of water) and the second night they called to say they had tickets available for the late show…we went and if it hadn't been such a great show we would have fallen asleep as it ended very late (our time).

We slept in and DH got in the shower while I turned on the Today Show and started quickly packing for my return flight home that I needed to catch in about an hour. I remember screaming to DH as I watched the first plane hitting the first he thought I had it wrong…I was so riveted on the TV I couldn't leave and kept screaming to him to come and see for himself. We watched in horror as the second plane hit.

As soon as we knew what was really happening we were on the phone to the travel agent and even went downstairs to try and rent a car to get home. Others had beaten us there and even when we tried to rent a U-haul truck we were informed that everything in town was gone. People were trying to find others who had cars to pay them for a ride their direction. The phones were so tied up that I couldn't get through to my Mom at home. All we wanted to do was get home. Unbenounced to me, my family was panicking wondering about us and by then they had all heard of a plane going down 'somewhere in Western Pennsylvania' (that was back when none of us but DH had a cell phone and the landlines were tied up). They didn't know if that was my plane coming back to Pittsburgh or even if our home had been hit in Pittsburgh (there's a big memorial ceremony going on now near here at the Shanksville site). We eventually got through and all of us reconnected.

We sadly watched with the rest of the country as the towers fell. I'm tearing up now remembering the tragic and devestating loss of life and horrors we all witnessed that day. I think it hit home even more to my kids as we'd all been to NY City on vacation just a few weeks before 9/11 in mid-August with DH's sister's family. We actually had reservations in the 'Windows on the World' restaurant at the top of one tower for lunch, which we decided to cancel in favor of having more time to take the kids to Ellis Island and past the Statue of Liberty via boat. Over 150 people; everyone present in the restaurant that morning perished. I'm glad, for the kids sake, that they hadn't been there.

Windows on the World.

When I took DD back to NYC a few years ago for her spring break all she wanted to do was go to Ground Zero; even though she knew nothing was there but some fencing and excavated foundations.

It took DH a few days to track down his college roommate who worked in one of the shorter buildings in the WTC complex. His building suffered quite a lot of damage; windows all blown out, etc., but he was safe.

I'll have to say being in Las Vegas was a very surreal place to be during this event. We were stuck there for an additional 3 days and were lucky (with our travel agent's help) to get one of the first flights home. When we went downstairs to try to find ground transportation that first morning we walked through the casino and lobby to see a few TV's with people gathered around them and right next to them were people still playing the slot machines…I wanted to scream at those still gambling 'Don't you know what is happening?'

We also had some wonderful moments of commeradery…we took a taxi out to the closest department store where I found the lengerie department packed with women like me looking to buy more underwear to get through the next days until we could get home. We were all helping eachother find sizes and discussing how many we might need. I only had clothing for two nights, so I bought a few more tops as well. I remember having discussions with the resort staff as well. Immediately every show was, of course, cancelled and by the second day the staff knew this event was going to be devestating to the economy in their town and were expecting huge lay-offs, which happened…their economy was devistated. There was lots of talk on that morning about the fact that Las Vegas might be a likely next target. It was certainly disturbing to later learn that a number of the 9/11 hijackers make at least six trips to Las Vegas immediately before the attacks.

I can tell you I was never so glad to get home and hug my family.

Our lives will go on, but WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

Where were you, and what were you doing that day?

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