Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Letter on September 11, 2001

Dear readers,

Ten years ago, on September 11, 2001, I was not yet working in New York City. I was at a job in suburban New Jersey for a food industry publication. Someone mentioned a plane hit the World Trader Center and we went into a conference room and watched the television coverage.

Most of us had been gathering our parts for the daily newsletter that went out each morning and I remember my coworker rushing back to her office to get it done. I thought, "Who wants to read this today?" We were soon sent home.

I went to my parents' house and watched in the same horror of the unfolding events as the world did. The human urge to do something - anything to help - set in. My mother and I had tried that morning to donate blood at the Red Cross. We were turned away. None would be needed.

We did not lose anyone we knew that day. My father knew people in one of the towers that was hit, but they walked to safety. With so many commuters into New York City in our northern New Jersey area, so many souls were lost so senselessly everywhere around us.

Tori Amos wrote a song "I Can't See New York" on her Scarlet's Walk album that as I see it is from the perspective of a passenger who is on a plane that can't make it to New York. She observes that from the sky, "From here no lands are owned. From here no lines are drawn" and can't seem to understand what has happened. "What do they mean, side of what things?"

"I can't seem to make my way out of this hunting ground." Hunting ground seems right. Humans were hunted on a mass scale that day.

The physical body was just gone. "In the end, all we have soul blueprint."

I'm thinking of that song, but I'm also thinking of the solace found in her recent song "Carry."

"Love hold my hand, help me see with the dawn
that those that have left are not gone.

But they carry on, as stars looking down
as nature's sons and daughters of the heavens.

You will never be forgotten by me
in the procession of the mighty stars,
your name is sung and tattooed now on my heart.
Here I will carry, carry, carry you forever.

You have touched my life.
And so that now cathedrals of sound are singing are singing.
The waves that come to walk with you to where you will live in the land."

I'm thinking about the 10 years I had and the ones I have ahead that were robbed from others. It makes me angry, sad, and it fills my eyes with tears. A decade later, the pain still feels so raw on this day.

I'm also remembering how unified we all were, how much we wanted to show our love of our country (I remember how hard it was to find an American flag because they were sold out) and how the best of the human spirit was brought out.

If you are an American or viewed the events from your own country, please feel free to share your memories and stories of 9/11 - anything that may be on your mind about that day and the aftermath.



  1. I was actually overseas on September 11. My wife and I went to the Philippines for a vacation many days before the 11th. We returned home about a week after the attack, and our plane approached JFK airport from the South. It flew over the southern tip of Manhattan. I looked down at the site and there was still smoke rising. It was liking coming home to a wounded loved one.

    As for the day of attack itself, we were out on a day trip to a nature preserve and came back to my in-laws' place around evening. There is a 12-hour difference between NYC and Manila. We had dinner and went to bed early. That would have been the morning of September 11 in NYC. When I woke up next morning, my mother-in-law was all frantic, telling me that there is war in the United States. I looked at the television and saw the replays of the attack. By then, both towers were down. I felt like I had abandoned my city during her time of need. All I could do was to watch on television. It was very difficult for me. I had to be overseas on a day like September 11.

  2. Hi Ted. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I cannot imagine how hard it was to watch the events from so far away. A friend of mine was on her honeymoon in the air going to Greece and had to hear the news that way.

    My boyfriend works with inner city troubled youths and many of them barely have any idea what happened that day since they were so young. I think of our nation's short attention span with history.

    Anyway, it still feels like a bad dream.