I remember the sky was the most beautiful & vivid blue. The temperature was warm, but with a feeling of Fall. Like every Tuesday, I buckled in our 4-year old and 1-year old to take our oldest son Jared to pre-school at our synagogue down the street. My plan was to drop off Jared and head to the mall to run some errands.
I never made it to the mall. At approximately 9:00 AM, we learned that the World Trade Center had been hit, at 8:46 AM. The plane crashed into floors 93-99 of the North Tower, killing everyone on board, and hundreds inside. I remember thinking in disbelief, “What a horrible accident!!” Initial thoughts, when the first plane hit weren’t really about terrorism. The idea that a group of people would hijack a plane to use it as a weapon was unfathomable for the average citizen.
When the second plane hit at 9:03 AM, it became clear this was an intentional attack on the United States. At this moment, hijackers crashed into floors 75-85 of the South Tower, killing everyone on board, and hundreds inside.
Like every parent at the pre-school, I raced back to pick up Jared. Our entire sense of security was erased. All of the families… we didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know where to go. Shortly thereafter around 10:00, we learned that the Pentagon had been hit, at 9:37! Hijackers crashed a plane into the western section, killing 59 aboard and 125 military and civilian personnel inside. Our own city was also under attack! We heard that the White House and the Capitol were also targets. I immediately thought of my brother, who works in DC, and prayed for his safety. I thought of everyone I knew that could have potentially been impacted.
9:57: The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses. It literally disappears.
10:07: The 4th hijacked plane crashes into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all 40 aboard.
10:28: The World Trade Center’s North Tower collapses… disintegrates into dust.
These two hours changed everything. For everyone.
I remember I needed to go to NY for a business trip a few months later. I took the train from DC’s Union Station to Penn Station. I had an important meeting scheduled with a new customer. When I came up the escalator from the platform to the main level of the station, I was completely unprepared for what I was about to encounter. I froze.
I was overcome with the wall-to-wall photos of those that perished. There were thousands and thousands of pictures, of such beautiful people. I couldn’t move. There was a montage, from floor to ceiling. It contained messages of love, pictures, and agonizing pleas for help. They were stapled and taped together… one on top of another. So much pain and desperation in that montage. So many hopes and dreams that were never realized. So many souls frozen in time. Men, women, and children of every age, across every culture… piece-mealed together in a tapestry of pain, staring back at those that passed by. I spent two hours looking at those pictures through tears that would not subside.
Today, it is another beautiful 9/11 day in the DC region. America continues to heal. We continue to pursue our dreams, and the promises of life, liberty, and happiness.
May you all find the strength to continue your own healing, and may everyone continue to experience peace and closure. And may those that we lost on that beautiful day 14 years ago rest in peace.
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