Friday, September 11, 2009

In Memoriam: 9/11 eight years later

Sept. 11, 2009
Posted by Noah

Where were you eight years ago this morning, and what were you doing?

I hope no one will have any problem today with me taking a little time off from regular Heritage blogging to commemorate the sadness of today's date, and to celebrate the incredible bravery and spirit it inspires. Sept. 11 is indeed one of those days where absolutely everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing.

On that Tuesday morning - it was a bright and brilliant early fall day - I was driving the back roads of Duchess County, New York, from my home in Rhinebeck to the offices of Taconic Press in Millbrook, some 35 minutes away, where I was then editor of the Rhinebeck Gazette Advertiser and the Hyde Park Townsman (Hyde Park, NY, the home of FDR). It was deadline day and time to put the papers together. I relished that drive, and was just passing the last long stretch of open country, past the estate that Bette Midler had just purchased, when the report of the first plane hitting the towers came on NPR.

Like most people, I assumed it was a small prop plane and that some joker thought it would be funny to buzz the towers and got too close. I worried that someone on the ground might get hurt.

Once I got to work, I went upstairs to my friend John's office, where we waited patiently for to open up. It was, understandably, inundated with hits. When the site finally picked up, and the first image came on, the initial horror set in. This was no prop plane. We sat in flabbergasted silence for several long minutes before I finally said, "I need to get to work."

Once downstairs, at my desk, I tuned the office radio to NPR - much to the chagrin of several other editors who dismissed the crash and wanted to hear the latest on the ubiquitous sports radio that constantly numbed my brain on those days. 10 minutes later, when the report of the second plane hitting Tower 2 broke, there was no more protest. Clearly something major was amiss.

We all worked on in stunned silence, knowing that something terrible was happening just an hour south of where we were. When the towers crashed an hour later the only sound in the room was the stifled sobs of reporters and editors alike. We went into crisis mode.

The Hudson Valley is home to countless weekend houses and commuter towns for NYC, so this was really close to home for us. There were casualties from all of our neighborhoods, and many of the firefighters, first responders and police that raced to the city were zooming down the streets right outside our windows on their way to ground zero.

For me personally, I was but a year or two removed from my life in NYC, and 90% of my friends were still down there. Many worked in the area and I fought uselessly to get through to anybody's cell phone. Within 48 hours I had discerned that my friends were okay, but that the city was devastated, of course. When I made my way down there a week later the palpable sadness in the air was only equaled by the smell and the pall of the dust from the collapse.

I thank my lucky stars every day that we have avoided and stopped further attacks since that day, and that America - despite all its political squabbling and differences - has held together, united in our determination that nothing like Sept. 11, 2001, will ever happen again.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, thank you for that. I was in California and heard people on the bus chatting about it but thought it was just media hype until I saw the news. The company decided to close that day.