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"Where were you when the World Stopped Turning?" asks the Alan Jackson song about 9/11. We will always remember where we were on that September day 15 years ago, won't we? Because we will always remember 9/11.
YouTube Video: YouTube.com/watch?v=p9KlJb8SJzI
I was living in a fourplex in Fairbanks, Alaska with my then-husband and two-year-old son. Our address was something Palace Circle. About 3 months pregnant with my second child, I was working at a coffee shop across from the news station downtown. I opened the coffee shop at 6 a.m. every morning, and had a cab-driver named Buck who picked me up at 5:45 a.m. every day.
It was dark when I climbed into the back seat of the cab on that September morning in 2001. Almost exactly an hour earlier, the first plane had struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center, but I didn't know that as I got dressed in the silence that morning. Buck and I greeted each other, but we didn't usually talk much on my ride to work.
There was something disturbing playing on the car radio during that ride. I half-listened to what I thought was a book on tape. The voice said something about a plane hitting the World Trade Center tower. Something about a confirmed explosion on the heliport pad at the Pentagon "just minutes ago". I had no idea what was happening in another time-zone on the other side of the country that morning. The horrors my fellow Americans were living were not yet in my conscience.
As I got out of the car, I asked Buck what book he was listening to. His response shook me somewhere deep inside. "It's not a book, he said . . . it's the news. Something is happening in New York City". I closed the back door, anxious to get inside and tune into the news for details.
Unlocking the door to the coffee shop, I quickly turned on the lights and radio. Flipping through the stations, I found nothing. I went to the basement to collect cups and lids to restock the counter. Pretty soon my "regulars" would start stopping by on their way to work. It was 6 a.m. when I turned on the OPEN sign that Tuesday morning. At almost that moment the "live" news reported that another tower was hit.
I turned the radio down as customers started to come in. At this point I was imagining that the WTC towers had been hit by small, personal planes and I was trying to piece the events together in my mind. Customers who had seen the TV news on their way to work that morning started filling me in. They told me that the towers had been hit by commercial flights with passengers aboard. I listened, unable to wrap my head around the events of the day.
When I turned the radio back up, I found that the unthinkable had happened. The South Tower had collapsed. First responders were inside and at the base of the building. They couldn't have survived. Even the reporters were scrambling for words. They tried impossibly to maintain composure amidst the terror of the morning.
I only worked three hours each morning, so I could be home with my son before my ex-husband went to work. The cab driver took me directly to my doctor's appointment on that memorable morning. It was my first appointment with my second pregnancy. Nurses, patients, and hospital staff were all gathered around the TV in the upper corner of the waiting room when I arrived. It was the first 9/11 footage that would be forever etched in my mind. I get chills just thinking about it and know I will always remember 9/11.
The doctor's appointment is long-forgotten. What I do remember is going home and being glued to my television with tears in my eyes. I watched until I noticed my 2-year-old building block towers and crashing his toy planes into it on the coffee table in front of me. That was so disturbing that I turned off the TV and spent time giving him extra snuggles.
(Click here to review a timeline of the events of that morning in 2001).
Fairbanks, AK is isolated and low in natural resources required for living. Many of our goods arrived via plane, so when the government put a national ban on flights, there was a run on stores. As a result, shopping in the wake of 9/11 saw empty shelves.
I was scheduled to fly "home" to Utah a few weeks later, and was nervous about whether that flight would happen. It did. Although when I arrived to the airport I knew things would never be the same. Workers in latex gloves sat at folding tables in front of the airport and rifled through my tightly packed bag before I entered. A non-english speaking man in a turban sat across the aisle from me on my flight from Anchorage to Salt Lake. I remember trying to talk myself out of stereotyping, and I guess it worked because I slept for most of the flight.
My small town in Utah was plastered in U.S. flags when I arrived weeks after 9/11. I have never seen such national pride and solidarity. Seeing it all the way from Alaska to Utah was powerful. I know New Yorkers experienced 9-11 in their own, much more personal way, but I wonder if they know how much we ALL felt for them. It is one of the many reasons we will always remember 9/11.
Another way we will always remember 9/11: My 2-year-old and I were both chosen for "random" pat-downs on the way back from Utah. We all experience flying differently since September 11th.
I traveled last weekend, and watched as the people in front of me told their loved ones goodbye before entering security . . . not before boarding the plane as it had always been before 9/11. Those moments always remind me and I can't help but miss the way it used to be.
This June, on the year of the 15th anniversary of the attacks, my boyfriend and I visited New York. A trip to New York City, we decided, would not be complete without a visit to the World Trade Center Memorial. We got off the tour bus at Broadway and Barclay with instructions from the bus driver to turn right at St. Paul's Chapel. As we turned that corner, the images and horror of that 9/11 we will never forget started to haunt my mind. I could imagine the people running, covering their faces as dust filled the air. Imagining the smell of the dust and smoke that day, I could almost hear the screams, the frantic phone calls home. Everything in me wanted to turn back. I started to feel physically ill, moreso with each step toward the 9/11 Memorial.
As we neared the pools, sadness was everywhere. Like so many things in life, pictures don't do it justice. Other tourists we talked to experienced the same at the WTC Memorial. You can't imagine the depth of the pools, how many names were etched in the granite, the energy of the place. I almost didn't even want pictures, didn't know whether to smile in the photos or not, knew we couldn't capture the feeling. Yet, I need my kids to know, I need others to know that we will never forget 9/11. Never. And that's why I share my story.
YouTube Video: YouTube.com/watch?v=gPHnadJ-0hE
Alan Jackson's heart-wrenching song can be purchased at this Amazon affiliate link. We will always remember 9/11.
Marcy Vogler is a lifestyle makeover coach, personal trainer, and mother of three. Marcy is passionate about helping women make over their lives from the inside out. To learn more about the courses Marcy offers, check out our parter website at www.thegoodlife4u.club. For daily inspiration, join Marcy's Facebook Group: Love Your Day, Love Your Life.
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