Showing posts with label September 11. Show all posts
Showing posts with label September 11. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering September 11, 2001, 11 Years Later

(I wrote the following post on September 11, 2009, and I'm repeating with a few small changes because the images and feelings are still as vivid as they were 11 years ago...)
Newspapers in Rome on September 12, 2001

On a 2-week tour of Italy, I was sitting in the public room of a small hotel in Rome during afternoon siesta hours on September 11th. The TV was on in the corner, showing an Italian soap opera, and I was stitching a needlepoint stocking for my niece's baby son, who had been born just a month earlier.

Suddenly the TV picture switched to a jet slamming into one of the Twin Towers, and the station replayed that clip several times as Italian newscasters discussed what was happening. The crawl at bottom of the screen credited CNN for the footage, and I quickly realized that any English-language commentary was being replaced by Italian commentary. But I did notice the word "live" and it became clear that the picture of the damaged Twin Towers was being broadcast in real time.

I found my husband and we found one of the tour guides, who joined the group gathered by the small TV. As we watched in shock, the second jet rammed the Twin Towers and our guide translated what the news anchors were saying. We sat numb and horrified as the first Tower collapsed.

By now many tour members were already on the phone trying to call friends and relatives in NYC, even though we'd already heard that the lines were jammed and calls weren't getting through. Instead many of us went to the nearest Internet point to check online news sites and send e-mails to our NY connections.

The rest of that day is a blur, although I know the guides suggested a quiet walking tour of one of the seven hills. For the next few days, whenever our group was in public, Italians would come up to us, ask if we were American, and express their shock over the attacks and their support for us in our sorrow.

We were visiting the Vatican that Friday during the time when the worldwide period of silence was observed. Everyone in the Vatican stopped what they were doing and stood up, respectfully standing in place for three minutes with heads bowed, in silent prayer or contemplation or sorrow. Standing quietly in Rome with the world taking a break from everyday life to mourn with our country, I felt a comforting sense of peace and solidarity.

Today, the anniversary of that tragic day still brings sadness but it also brings remembrance about the lives saved and the shared feeling of joining with mourners in Italy during that moment of silence.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11: Memories of the Twin Towers

As a New Yorker, my long-time impression of the World Trade Center towers was that they were modern, sterile, steel-and-glass boxes that happened to be the tallest skyscrapers on Earth when built. I was living in the Bronx when the twin towers opened in Manhattan, within a healthy walking distance of the high-rise apartment building where my mother (Daisy Burk) lived.

We would visit the towers, look up, and shake our heads at the contrast between these architecturally unremarkable buildings and the ornate Manhattan skyscrapers we admired, like the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building (where I later worked in a branch of Sam Goody), and Radio City.

My former sister-in-law was married at Windows on the World atop 1 World Trade Center, a small family celebration with the best view of any wedding I've ever been to. This famous restaurant was a destination on its own within the twin towers complex, with great food, impeccable service, and an incomparable vista stretching out for miles and miles.

On September 11, 2001, hubby and I were in Rome when the World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorists. We saw the shocking news on TV and later went to the Internet cafe to be in touch with our New York family and friends, reassuring ourselves that they were safe and letting them know that Italy was holding candlelight vigils to show sympathy.

So many lives lost, so much gone in such a short time.

In the decade since, I've never had the heart to return to that downtown site, although I've seen photos and videos. Too many memories.

As undistinguished-looking as those twin towers seemed when they were constructed--known for their historic height rather than their beauty--I miss them in the NYC skyline, the gap as gaping as if the two front teeth were kicked out of the city's smile.