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I Heart New York.


My dear friend Dr. Becky once told me that the are only two things that can make me cry instantly on command; when I talk about the last conversation I had with my father and the September 11 attacks in Manhattan.

Just how my grandfather will never forget D-Day, or how my mom will never forget where she was when JFK was shot, those who were old enough to comprehend what was going on, will never forget where we were and what we were doing on 9/11. 

From time to time, I'll find posts and articles, or hear snarky comments accusing Americans of obsessing over 9/11, that we're self-centered, if this happened in another country we wouldn't care, and to get over it already. These point of views to me are just sad and ignorant. How could they think that their rants and accusations would at all dictate how we feel? I don't think we will ever "get over it", nor do I think we should. Honoring it each year is not obsessing, it's just remembering who and what we've lost, and thanking our heroes. Once a year is reasonable. Come on.

I don't know if it's because my mom is a flight attendant, or my cousin is a New York City Firefighter, or I'm a native New Yorker, or because I was close-by when it happened, or because I'm a human being, but today will never cease to chalk up emotions of how I felt that day, standing in Greenwich Village, watching tragedy strike over our city. Maybe I'm just someone who is extremely empathetic and feel an enormous amount of sorrow when I think of what the victims experienced, and their families that had to go on with their lives without them. Whatever my reasons are for feeling as passionate as I do about this, today is a day that I acknowledge every year, and will continue to do so for many years to come, regardless of the city or country I'm in.

New York, today is for you.

This is what I wrote last year about my experience about what would have otherwise been just another warm day in September, 2001.

Where were you on that day?

15 comments:

  1. I'm not really sure how remembering 9/11 could ever be seen as self-centered. It' was devastating, even to me - a 15 year old girl from Melbourne, Australia who had no connection to the US (other than through the tv/internet), let alone New York.

    I was getting ready for school when it was on the news, I remember getting teary on the bus and then talking to my mum about it more when I got home. It's not an event that affected Americans alone, but simply people. It was and still is something that makes that little lump form in my throat, something that I'll forever mourn over, and I wasn't directly affected... so I can't even begin to imagine what it feels like to experience it first hand.

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  2. Hi Ella, I just read your 9/11 post from last year. I guess I hadn't discovered your blog then or missed it because I never saw it before. Thanks for sharing your story and thanks for your post today. I guess it's the way I deal with intense pain, but I often stay quiet about death and 9/11, and suffer quietly. I don't really like putting words to it and would much prefer making a painting; but I feel like here on your blog I can try...

    At least I'll mention where I was... I was 14 and in my first year of high school in Long Island. Starting a new chapter sort of like you, as high school is a new, big thing.. I was heading to art class and in the hallway (I know exactly where and what it looked like of course!) and saw my brother who mentioned the 1st tower being hit... and in art class my teacher let us watch the news on TV, and during that class watched the 2nd plane hit. I remember the shift of emotions.. from the 1st to 2nd plane.. The 1st one me hopefully believing it as an accident, and then realizing the obvious with the 2nd... ....In my memory everything when sour since. A few months later my parents divorced, my dad's business lost over 1/2 its customers, changed high schools and I was subjected to living alone with my abusive mother and until moving to NYC for college when I turned 17. The there was the whole disappointment w/ the Bush elections.. what a friggin' decade from hell. But, like you said, I may have suffered but I can't imagine what it has been for the victims and the families and friends of the victims..

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  3. I was doing exactly what I'm doing now...working in an office in a large bank tower just like all of the people in the twin towers...a co worker yelled across the office to me that a plane had hit the WTC and I said "that's crazy..how could that happen?" and then began the worse day ever at work...we work in banking and talk to NY all day long...the first thing my boss said was "try and get Chase on the phone" and of course we couldn't....I had just been in NY and had gone down to Century 21 to shop so we walked over to the towers to have a look..it was a Sunday and no one was around..just my sister and me..I remember trying to see the top of the towers and saying you needed to lie down to see it when you were right beside them...

    a horrible horrible day....I LOVE NEW YORK!

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  4. I love NY even though I've never been. To me it's the mysterious TV version I see on the TV but a friend of mine is moving to NY in January (hopefully got to sort out bits of paperwork!) and hopefully I might get to go see her.

    I remember where I was in a scary amount of detail. I was about 3 or 4 days into Year 11 and had been over to the music department to quickly speak to my Expressive Arts teacher about something we were doing in class. I got there and the other music teacher appeared and made a comment about the twins being hit or something like that – this never occurred to me as to what was happening – I figured that they were mid-flow of conversation as I walked into the class room.

    I got in the car with my Mum and went to my Grandma’s house. Every Tuesday growing up we'd have tea at Grandma's.

    I got there and my Aunt was sat on the sofa watching TV and my Grandma was sat in the room as well. They’d got the news on which was kinda strange as they usually had a quiz on or something like that, then I saw what was happening. My heart leaped into my throat and something in me wanted to protect my cousin.

    Okay she was 7 at the time (she leaves for University in about 3 weeks and I still want to protect her!) and I’m sure she was well aware that something bad was happening and that I couldn’t really protect her but we went into the other room and started playing while everyone watched the news.

    I was 15 at the time, I'm now 26. I remember 7/7 in just as much detail and both days break my heart and get me choked up.

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  5. With the time difference to NZ, I woke up (early morning on Sept 12 NZ time, afternoon of Sept 11 in NY) to someone on the radio saying "rescuers are trying to determine if anyone is still alive in downtown Manhattan" and then they cut to an ad break! I had to get up and jump in the shower but I was thinking a nuclear bomb went off or something. We listened to the radio all the way in to uni in the car, then I went to the gym and instead of doing my normal workout, just sat on the bike in front of the TVs, which would normally be on MTV or whatever but were all tuned to the news of what was going on.

    Even though I know the towers had already fallen hours ago by the time I woke up, I still feel as though I watched it all happen live because the way the news came through was so confusing and of course they just kept playing those images over and over.

    I can't imagine what it must have been like actually being there and being worried for your mum. x

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  6. Those sorts of comments are just weird to me. Seriously? I know, for instance, that in Madrid they still remember the attacks -- the 2004 train bombings. And it's not self centered, or weird, or ethnocentric. Because people died!

    Anyway, I was in ninth-grade biology class. Someone told us the World Trade Center was on fire. I actually did not know what the WTC was. (Oops.) My friend Lauren was from New Jersey originally, so she was upset, because her childhood friend's father worked there. As the day went on, we learned more and more, and we didn't do anything in class; we just watched the TV and tried to understand. I guess as a 14-year old, I didn't really understand it fully.

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  7. I'm not the most patriotic of people, but when people comment on how Americans should "feel" on this day, I get so so defensive of our actions. No one who didn't experience the fear we felt those days has any right to comment on us "getting over it".

    I've made the comment many times that it's our generation's JFK assassination, so you summed up my thoughts perfectly. We'll never forget where we were and what we were doing when the attacks happened just like my mom can tell you about how she was at school and a nun came in and told them what had happened.

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    1. I remember last year, you and I both read a blog post by one of your friends (?) and we both did not agree. While I respected her right to express herself, I felt like her views about how Americans feel on this day were unfair and wasn't sure exactly why she felt so strongly about how we feel. She ended up emailing me and apologizing or rather clarifying, which was nice. Whatever happened to her? She was a lovely blogger. Is she still in France?

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  8. I was sitting in my office in Finland (I was teaching at a university of technology), chatting to my best friend who had stayed behind in Taiwan. A former colleague interrupted our chat to tell her about the attacks and we both got off line to watch the news, she in Asia, me in Europe. I sat alone isn my apartment and watched the whole thing on MSNBC and TV5 Europe and sobbed.

    My heart goes out to the survivors and their family, but also to all the later and earlier victims of capitalist greed and religious frenzy. And to all the misguided delusional people who think there is such a thing as a "just" war.

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  9. I like that original post :) Well, this one too.

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  10. Well said Ella, and I enjoyed reading your post from last year and how you hosted all the stranded flight attendants. For me, I was in 7th grade; it was the first week of school and the one Tuesday we got half-off for every year when the York Fair came to town, meaning it was also school picture day. So in the morning we had our school picture taken, then an announcement came over the intercom telling teachers to check their emails. I was in history, and my teacher told us they weren't allowed to tell us what was going on and we would have to wait until we got home. I arrived home around noon and my mom was just sitting on the couch watching the news (which she rarely does, she's always doing something while the news is on) and she told me, this is something you'll remember for the rest of your life. I was 12 at the time and couldn't really comprehend the magnitude of it all, but she was, of course, right.

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  11. My godmother who is arriving in France today to visit me was a flight attendant with United for 30+ years. She knew most of the UA crew that were hijacked. She tried going back to work after it all but she just couldn't. Luckily for her with so many years of service she was able to take early retirement.

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  12. I remember that day too vividly. I was 16 years old and in homeroom when the first tower was hit. We didn't know what was going on but all of our teachers lost all color in their faces, looked horrified and were speechless. We were instructed to say a prayer for our city and country, (I went to an all-girls private school) but we still didn't know what was going on. Eventually, the administration broke the news and for the rest of the day the school was on lock down.

    I will never forget the fear, sadness, confusion and numbness I felt that day. Being from NYC and going to school in the city made it so incredibly intense and severe. I am not sure I was able to process what happened that day but it hit me the following day as my family and I were watching the news. There was a shot of Times Square and it was completely empty; no cabs, no people, no cars, no police nothing. It was surreal. I felt like the worlds greatest city was brought to its knees and that's when I said to myself "oh s%^&, things will never be the same."

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  13. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories with me. It goes to show that you didn't have to be in New York, or America to feel the impact and that will be a day that none of us will ever forget.

    Thank you again.

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  14. Hello Ella, I am reading your beautiful blog from the beginning again, I am very happy that you have your baby and you write again. I live in Athens-Greece. That black day I was watching something on television and then suddenly the programme stopped and they told about the first tower and then I saw the second tower hit. It was like watching a horror film, I couldnt believe it was really happening. Everybody stayed glued on tv that day of course. Next day before going to work I went to get my coffee as usual from a little cafe near my office and it was closed. It remained closed for more than 15 days and when it opened, I saw the woman in the cafe dressed in black. She told me that her brother who lived with his family in New York was in the first tower and was killed. Such a small world...

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