Sunday, September 10, 2006

September 11, 2001. It started out as a beautiful sunny day. The kind of day you wish you had skipped work because you knew with Fall approaching, these warm, bright days were few and far between. I went to work and it seemed like any other work day. I own the building in which I work. I live upstairs and work in the law office beneath our apartment. As the morning got started, my husband came flying downstairs to announce a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. He always did this kind of thing when there was breaking news. However, this was different. I looked at my boss and he looked at me. Something wasn’t right. How can a plane just fly into the Trade Center?

My oldest daughter lived on 79th and York. I telephoned her. She was on a bus, riding in to work and was surprised to hear my voice. I asked her if everything was okay and she seemed puzzled. I told her about the plane and when she looked out of the bus window towards downtown, she saw the smoke. She didn’t seem concerned and not wanting to alarm her, but feeling relieved that I had alerted her to possible danger, we hung up. Then my husband raced downstairs again – to tell us the 2nd tower was hit. And, the rest is history.

It was one of the most horrible days of my life. I had a hard time watching the coverage as I didn’t know if I would ever see my daughter again. Phones were down, the Pentagon was hit, a plane had crashed in Pennsylvania. All hell was breaking loose and the President was riding around in a plane and the Vice-President was in an undisclosed location. No one was in charge. And, in the City where my daughter lived, the roads and bridges were shut off. I was sick to my stomach and, as I write this now, I still feel the raw pain and my eyes well with tears.

As I imagine is usually the case, if one is personally involved in a crisis, it makes it that much harder to bear. Although my heart went out to the Oklahoma bombing families, I didn’t experience their pain. 911 was different. This was my child in a city that was being torn apart. I didn’t know if she had made it into work, if she was at her corporate headquarters or headed to one of the other locations for a business meeting. Not knowing was unbearable. However, in the end, I was one of the lucky ones. I later learned she watched in horror from her office window as the second tower fell. Everyone was ordered out of the building and she and a co-worker started walking the 50 or so blocks home. They passed people on the street crying and sobbing, not knowing where to go or what to do. A cabbie picked them up and dropped each of them home without accepting a penny. Her electricity was off, but at some point, she was able to phone home. She struggled through the next few days alone, smelling the stench of the fires and listening to the planes patrol the city. My heart ached for her and there wasn’t a thing I could do to allay her fears or comfort her. She is a survivor, but, after all is said and done, the experience changed all of us.

It is for all of the reasons stated above that September 11th, 2001 is very personal to me. And, it is why every single time George W. Bush utters the words or uses the images it makes me mad as hell. To steal this shattering tragedy for political gain is shameful. To blame the dying of thousands of US soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis on 9/11 is sickening. I can never forgive him or his political party for using a painful, frightening attack to advance their PNAC plan, to increase their wealth and avenge Bush, Sr. And, that’s why I won’t be watching television. I don’t need to see it again. It is forever etched in my memory. And, I don’t think I could bear to watch Bush using this 5th anniversary of an attack on America to advance his agenda for the November elections. He is a pitiful man and although I don’t know if I believe there is a God, I do believe he will be held accountable for his lies. Even if it’s only in the history books, labeling him the worst president ever.

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