I was driving to work the morning of September 11, 2001 when I heard the news about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. My first thought was that it must have been a terrible accident, but then I heard that a second plane had also crashed into the World Trade Center. At work, we brought a small TV into the workroom to keep up to date on the news. I also searched online for updates. We then heard that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. I looked out the window and saw planes circling around the area. They were probably doing surveillance, since we were in northern New Jersey, close to New York City. But at the time, under those circumstances, the sight of those planes made me nervous. I was horrified when I heard that the World Trade Center towers had collapsed.
We were sent home early and had the next day off as well. My Birman cat Velvet had died on March 23, 2001, and since then, I had not been able to bring myself to wear my two Birman T-shirts. But on September 11 and 12, I wore them. Feeling like Velvet was close to me brought me comfort. It was a very frightening time. I had always thought that I lived in a nice, safe neighborhood. But the terrorists were so close to me. They did practice runs for the 9/11 attacks at the Essex County Airport in Fairfield, New Jersey (the next town over from me, about 5 minutes away). The hijackers of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon had shopped at Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New Jersey (also the next town over from me, about 5 minutes away) the weekend before the attacks. They had gone to the sporting goods store. They were probably buying box cutters, knives, and other supplies for the attacks. Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, had been hijacked at Newark Airport, the airport I use when I travel.What if my flight had been hijacked? For quite some time, I could not look at a plane in the air in the same way. The view over the New York skyline was sickening; the gray dust hovered over the city. My aunt and cousin live in New York City, fairly close to the World Trade Center. It must have been even worse for them, having to breathe that air.
A woman from my hometown, Sara Manley, was killed in the September 11 attacks. She was working in the World Trade Center. I didn't know her very well because she was younger than me, so she was in a different class at school, but my parents know her parents. A woman that I work with knew a priest, Mychal Judge, who was killed on September 11 while serving as chaplain to the New York City Fire Department.
Last December, I visited the 9/11 Memorial at the site of the former Twin Towers, and took the pictures below.