Wednesday, September 11, 2019

My memories of September 11, 2001




  I don't know if I really want to write anything Mets related today. September 9th has been a day I hate to see on the calendar each year. It's not a day I take lightly each year and now I am starting to see how each year the folks that were young or not born yet in 2001 don't comprehend how badly the city and country were both wounded. This came to me when I went to the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii a couple of years ago. It was somewhere that I always wanted to see. I went there and I couldn't believe the tourists who were there smiling and taking selfies in what is a graveyard. I wasn't alive at the time the attack on Pearl Harbor happened but I think because I had relatives who were alive back then and lost friends to the attack it stayed with me. This get me thinking to the folks who weren't there back when they attack happened. It doesn't connect for the most part.

9/11/01 is starting to become a distant memory and also now really history. We have kids, teenagers, and some young adults now who  know the attacks on 9/11 happened but don't remember/or have first hand knowledge of it like a lot of us do. 

I was still working on television commercials back then. I worked on Lafayette between East 4th and Astor Place. The sky was one of the nicest blues that I have ever seen and there wasn't a cloud at all. When I say at all, I really mean I didn't see one cloud for most of the morning. We all got into the studio around 7:30/7:45 am and did what we needed to do to get the stage ready for a pre light day for  the table top part of a commercial we were filming the next day. The locations side of the production company was out on Long Island getting ready to film the Live action part of it. I was waiting for one of the other Production Assistants to come back with the cargo van from a run so I could take it out to do a pick up. I was supposed to go down to a rental house on Worth Street which is on the other side of Canal Street. When Angel came into the studio he was flipping out. We were trying to figure out why when he told us a plane hit one of the Twin Towers. Right then and there he said that we were under attack. No way did that ever creep into my head because I never expected that the USA would get attacked. I felt safe here. This wasn't like any other country that had terrorists attacks like this. This had to be an accident like Corey Lidle's plane that hit an apartment building recently. I was in 100 percent disbelief. We went up to the roof and watched the smoke billow out of the hole in the side of the tower. I still couldn't believe it. We went back downstairs just in time to see the second plain hit the second tower. This is where mentally all my illusion of being safe got destroyed. This when it hit me Angel was a 100 percent right. The U.S. was being attacked. We ran back up to the roof again and all time was acting crazy to me. Time slowed down and sped up at the same time. On the roof we watched the first Tower fall. All we saw was smoke where the Tower once stood. Folks on the roof were crying and screaming and I didn't know what to do. I went back down to the studio. I had all this restless energy that I couldn't get rid of. Then I went into the room and watched the second tower fall. (I blocked out being able to see folks jumping from the buildings until a few weeks later. One of the directors had a still camera with a zoom lens on it and was taking pics of the events. I saw in his LCD screen people in mid air on their way down to the ground and that shook the hell out of me. I really did block it out until we went back to work a week later and was looking through the pics._

I went out front of the building just to collect myself and I noticed something. It was eerily quiet. No pigeons around. No cars moving. No people on the street. Then finally what looked like zombies coming out of the concrete dust. New Yorkers covered head to toe in concrete dust, crushed glass, human remains and who knew what else. We had cases of water in the basement for the stage. My production manager(and one of my good friends) Pete and I ran down to the basement and grabbed the cases of water and brought them upstairs and gave out water to folks who were coming up Lafayette Street. We also offered the bathrooms, phones, and seats. We knew folks wanted to call home and needed to clean out their eyes and clean their faces and needed to sit.

As I was helping folks out, I went back to the TV to see what news was happening. The smoke plumes coming out of the debris was all that was filling up that picture perfect blue sky without a cloud in it. The smoke looked like a scar wound cutting across it. Then I saw the military jets flying around. I couldn't believe that either. I never thought I would see our military having to be deployed in US airspace and on US soil like this. Then I started hearing about the plain that went down in Pennsylvania and the plane that hit the Pentagon(I know this isn't the real timeline of events but I was so shaken and involved with the stuff happening on the street that I didn't know what was going on). 

Hours later probably in the late afternoon after we knew that the bridges and tunnels into Manhattan were closed to traffic and that the subways were either totally shut down or on really limited service, a few of us who lived in Queens decided it was time to go see our families. I drove 5 of us out of Manhattan back to Queens. It was so crazy. Armed soldiers with assault weapons were deployed all over the streets. The military jets were flying in that blue sky all around the city and you can see the Sun glimmering off of them. The city streets were pretty much empty of cars. It took almost no time to get us back to Queens. I dropped off my co workers at their homes and at places that they could grab buses and trains to get back to the further reaches of Brooklyn and Queens that they lived in.

I got home to my parents and sister and I don't think I talked much until the next day. I am not going to rehash what went on for days after this. There are documentaries and tv shows that show all the damage that happened so you can always go find that. So let me get back to what I was writing about in the first place. The disconnect that is going to keep happening because of time and healing for future generations. The folks that lived it are always going to have raw emotions over this. Any time it is brought up we are going to have that feeling in the pits of our stomachs. Future generations are going to view this as their "Pearl Harbor". There won't be a real connection with it just like their isn't a real connection with our generation and Pearl Harbor. Is it a good thing because the country has healed over time? Or is it a bad thing because with time we forget and not because we want to but just because with time and human nature it just happens. 

"Never Forget", is a catchy slogan. It does seem though some have forgotten.

To everyone who has lost a loved one, a friend, acquaintances, first responders(and the first responders still dealing with the fallout from the search nd rescue and the cleanup), and everyone else affected by this tragedy, I remember. You all are in my thoughts and it's not just when 9/11 rolls round and me and my cousin get on the Mets about honoring the first responders by wearing the caps during the game that day. I remember anytime I pass the Freedom Tower. I remember every time I am down town. I know a lot of you do too. Let us make sure future generations Never Forget and try to make this world into a better place where we don't have to worry about future 9/11s.

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