We Will Never Forget

Just as I am sure our forefathers remember where they were on Pearl Harbor Day, we all have memories of where we were on 9-11.

My phone rang at just before 6am, it was my mother and sister telling me to turn on CNN. I watched with horror as the second plane slammed into the tower. Not knowing what else to do I picked up the journal beside my bed. This is what I wrote, “This is an incredibly sad day for our country, terrorists have hijacked planes and crashed them into the world trade center. I am not sure I fully understand the gravity of the situation a this moment. I do know that what I am witnessing is surely history.” I then drew the Twin Towers, connected the bottom of the building with a “U” and wrote, “UNITED WE STAND.” I am not sure why but suddenly I knew what it was to be an AMERICAN….the kind of American who fought to keep this country free.

Four weeks later my then girlfriend, now wife, and I ventured to NYC. I wanted to do something for the people there. I wanted to fuel the economy, I wanted to just tell New Yorkers we love them and that they are not alone.

I remember flying in over the city and seeing rubble where the towers used to be. The plane got so quiet, we were literally flying over a war zone, a battle field, a cemetery. It hit all of us at once as a few passengers looked out the window and started to cry.

We got to our hotel in Mid-town Manhattan and hailed a cab. “Take us to Ground Zero please,” I said as if I wanted him to take us to Macy’s. The NYC cabby turned to us and said, “I am not taking you there, that is a sacred place.” Wow, a New York cabby refusing a fair. The cab dropped us off in the Village and we walked to St. Vincent’s Hospital in lower Manhattan. As we walked I smelled the air, I don’t know how to describe it but the air smelled like burning piles. Even four weeks after, we could smell the destruction in the air.

As we got to the hospital we were not prepared for what we saw. An entire wall plastered with pictures of people who were missing. Pictures describing who they were, when they were last seen, and personal messages so sad I tear up thinking about them. Family members would touch the pictures, you could see these people trying to experience loved ones through touching their pictures. The pain of seeing them was overwhelming, it made it real, these were everyday people like you and me.

I suddenly felt very out of place. We came to show New Yorkers we loved them and to support them but it felt like we were invading a very private moment. We tried to offer smiles to the people grieving all around us and then slowly exited.

As we started walking I told Terese, “stop and listen.” She did and said, “What I don’t hear anything.” “Exactly.” New York City is a city of noises, horns honking, people yelling, cars roaring but the city was quiet, I had never experienced this city like that before.

The next day, we strolled the streets of Mid-town offering words of encouragement to all the locals we could find. Then something weird happened, as we stood in front of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Mid-town we saw fire trucks pull into the middle of the street. We saw police barricades go up and suddenly the entire street was filled with thousands of people. What on earth was happening.

Then we saw it, in front of St Patrick’s Cathedral two fire trucks hoisted the American Flag high into the air on their ladders. Dignitaries started to pour into the church and we were told it was the funeral for the NYC Chaplain. As the flags rose strangers in the streets of NYC started to chant, “USA, USA, USA….”

There were more than flags that rose that day. I have never felt so proud to live in this great country, I have never felt so close to people I have never met. Those fireman realized that it was not only flags they were hoisting but hopes and dreams of our future.

We must remember the many that lost their lives that day and the many that sacrifice everyday so those flags can get flown.

One Comment

  1. Terri Taylor Weiner
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    I wanted to cheer and compliment your “Dad’s Office” ad in today’s paper, and found all these wonderful goings on, as well.

    I’m so very proud of and thrilled by what you’ve done with Aegis, Dwayne. I remember you telling me when you’d decided on the name. You’re providing a remarkable service with real class and caring.

    I’m 73 now (!!) and, if needed, Aegis is the place for me. WOW!

    Terri

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