|photo ©2001 Laurance Fendrick|
|photo ©2001 Laurance Fendrick|
My son's father-in-law stopped in the WTC every morning to get his coffee. This morning he stepped off the ferry just in time to see the first plane hit. He wisely turned around and went back on the boat to head home. Good thing too, because all ferry service was stopped after that. In fact, all NYC bridges were closed as well. 4 of 5 NYC boroughs are on islands so with the ferries stopped and the bridges closed, if you weren't home you were stranded. Had I not been home that day - I worked in New Jersey - I would not have been able to return home for the next 3 days!
At the time, we didn't know exactly what was happening, all we knew was that our home was under attack. Shortly, soldiers carrying automatic weapons started appearing in my neighborhood. Military helicopters were flying down my block at rooftop level. We were advised, if possible, to stay in our houses. We were in a war zone. This was not something that we just saw on TV - such as the Oklahoma bombings of a few years earlier - this was happening to us! On the news, we followed a chase of a car suspected of containing terrorists. Once again ... this was happening in my neighborhood ... blocks from my house. We didn't know if it was over or not.
All flights were cancelled, nothing but the military was in the air. Very strange and scary when you realize that I live 10 minutes from a major NYC airport - we have three - and there was no commercial traffic flying! All sports events in the country were cancelled for fear of attack. When baseball returned a week later here in NYC, it was under airport type security. No one knew what to expect, and when the teams - major divisional rivals at the time - met in the infield and shook hands and embraced each other prior to the start of the game, it was a very emotional moment. The hometown NY Mets won that game from the Atlanta Braves on a very dramatic late inning home run, and even the players on the other team were happy that happened ... it started the healing here in NY and the start of a return to life for those of us who live here.
As you can imagine, between a major telephone switching center being destroyed when the towers collapsed, and the sheer volume of attempted phone calls into the city, telephone service - landline and cell - was nearly non-existent. I could not call my children - neither of whom were in NYC ... my daughter had moved to Florida a year earlier, and my son was away at college. I had recently made the switch from dial up internet service to cable based, and it was the only way I was able to talk with my children - through an online chat. Remember that this was 2001 and many of the "instant communication" abilities we have on the net now were not available then.
But the hardest of all to deal with were the children my wife was teaching. The schools immediately went into lock-down mode. Children could not leave school unless a parent came to pick them up. Yet you have to remember that many of her students had just lost a mom or a dad and did not yet know it. And there were many indeed. During a celebrity fund raising concert a few weeks later, a young boy accompanied Joe Torre to the stage. He had lost his father in the attack. He was one of my wife's students.
So forgive us NYers if we celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden. I feel sorry for the families of the victims of the attack, not the mastermind of such carnage. Life continues here as it does in Washington, DC and Pennsylvania - in fact around the country and the world ... but it has never been the same.
Weeks after the attack we visited our daughter in Florida, and saw The Voices of Liberty perform at the American Adventure in EPCOT in Walt Disney World. This clip was a part of that performance (which I filmed) that I usually share each 9/11.