I wasn’t sure how I personally wanted to commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9.11.. Something about memorializing so much pain feels strange to me. I guess it’s because I go numb. My sense of grief and “why would anyone ever do this?” overwhelms me and I go quiet.
But MSNBC decided to air the coverage of the attack as they broadcast it on that horrible day. And those images shocked me back to the emotional and physical place I stood on 9.11.
I was at Denver International Airport (DIA) on my way to Greece via Chicago. A friend drove me to the airport early that morning and planned on staying with me until my flight took off. Back then, people could do that. I remember walking into the Starbucks in the United terminal to get the cup of coffee I so desperately needed. It was early in the morning, I was nervous about flying to Europe alone but knew I was a grown up and could manage to meet up with my friends in Mykonos without too much trouble. I felt proud of the overstuffed backpack I had. I had been determined not to over pack like a typical American. I was anxious to get on my way, but not looking forward to the twenty plus hour trip I had ahead.
I saw what looked like a long line and took a deep breath. I noticed everyone was staring at the television. I turned to see what had their attention. When I saw the images of the smoking Trade Center. I turned to my friend and said, “Why on earth would they replay the 1993 bombing?” Then I noticed the silence.
“What’s going on?” I asked the person standing in front of me.
“A plane hit the World Trade Center.”
“What?” I said in complete disbelief. And then before I got to the counter and ordered my latte, I saw the second plane hit.
“OH MY G-D!” I stood stunned and in utter shock. I got my drink and took my place in front of the television.
“I wonder how long my flight will be delayed,” I said to my friend. Talk about being struck stupid. I could not comprehend what we were all witnessing. I got up and went to the United help desk. Angry passengers threw their annoyance at the poor customer help people. I waited for my turn in line.
“We’re not going anywhere today are we?” I asked.
“No,” the representative said.
“Can I get my luggage back?” I asked. My Nikon camera was inside I didn’t want it to get stolen.
“No luggage. We’ll call and arrange drop offs at some point.”
My friend’s cell phone rang then. It was his mother. “Are you still at the airport? Get the fuck out!!!!!!”
And we did. When we got to his car and turned the radio on and sped out of there. Along the long drive on Pena Blvd the plane hit the Pentagon. I remember shaking. I remember thinking, holy shit I could have been in the sky today! I don’t remember where I was when Flight 93 fought back and crashed. I remember walking into my condo and calling my parents. I remember the relief in their voices when they heard me. I remember feeling numb. There was no food in my house. I had to tell myself to get up and get some food. I knew I shouldn’t drive. My senses were mute too. I remember needing to hear screaming loud hard-core music. I needed someone to yell for me. I didn’t understand all that death. I didn’t know how many people I knew who were in the air or in those towers. I couldn’t get a call through to most of my friends andfamily in New York.
My father was a volunteer fireman on Long Island for over 37 years. I wondered if he was going to go in and help. I wondered how many of his friends and mentors were at ground zero.
I remember being scared. I remember feeling blessed for not getting on my flight. I remember feeling proud to be an American. I remember crying. I remember wanting to fight back. I remember wanting to bomb the shit out of whoever did this to our country. I remember seeing all the American flags being hung on every door post and window in the city. I remember shutting down. I remember being overwhelmed by it all. And I feel that way today.
I think about all the war and hardships people all over the world live with. I think of how spoiled and lucky I am. I think about the people defending our country and freedom around the world. And I want to say thank you. And I want to say I remember too.