Archive | September 10, 2021

My memories of 9/11

Ten years ago on a lovely morning in September I got up as usual at 5:30, took my shower and wandered downstairs, turned on the Today show and stood watching in horror. The first plane had already hit the building and they didn’t know yet what was causing the fire at the World Trade Center but they still thought it was a small plane. I watched in shock and pain as I watched the second plane hit the other tower live right behind Matt Lauer’s head. It looked like a really bad disaster movie. I wanted to scrub my eyes out because I couldn’t really even believe what I had seen. I ran upstairs and woke up Alison who is never at her best in the morning and I don’t think she believed me.

I don’t remember if I had breakfast. I do remember being on the way to my job at Aetna downtown when the first tower fell and burst into tears on the 101 freeway and wondered if we should be worried in LA.

I was still a claims auditor then and Auditors had a strange status. We weren’t considered part of the local office but part of the National Operations group so they hid us away on a floor with nothing but the gym and some empty training rooms because of conflict of interest issues. We had no idea what was going on in the rest of the building. Aetna had the top 9 floors of the building and there were supposedly another 20 underground and they were owned by different banking facilities like B of A and unknown to us at the time several floors dedicated to the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve actually extends for several blocks and even under the Freeway under 7th street toward downtown. Sometime during the morning our boss was informed of this but not much else. One auditor found a radio some where and because radios in big building are hit and miss we had a hard time getting news from KNX meanwhile we continued to work.

I remember sitting with my colleagues at one point since concentration was sporadic at best, of making a list of potential Los Angeles target especially aware that we were sitting atop one. It’s not well known but still the Federal Reserve is a fairly large target. The problem with LA is that it’s so big. It’s not like Manhattan which is a small area compared to LA in square mileage. And would they focus on something like the entertainment industry or something well known like Disneyland , or the subway terminals or even one of the 2 harbors? Together they are the biggest port in the US but that was just too mind boggling to keep up for long.

Around 8:30am one of the auditor’s friends came running in in tears. Her grandmother was on the flight from Boston to LA and had called after she had checked in to say she was on the way. She had been in Boston at a hospital getting cancer treatment and was coming home after finishing a chemo treatment in clinical trial. That was when we learned people we might know or their relatives were part of it and when it really hit home and became real.

It would turn out later that she got sick from the chemo and missed her flight sick in the bathroom. I know that she probably thanks the Lord now for chemo and missing her flight but at the time her family had no clue and wouldn’t know until a few days later when she finally managed to get to Kansas City and get ahold of her family. We thought an earthquake had happened because when she got the news the adjustor came bouncing in our room and she was a really large woman but it was wonderful to get good news for a change.

Meanwhile we kept working and wondering if someone would send us home what we didn’t know was we were the only ones left in the building. I don’t think we knew about the Pentagon or the crash in Shanksville. And I don’t think we were getting too much work done but we stayed at our desks and at least stared at the screen. Around10:30am a janitor came in to turn off the lights and got the shock of his life. He thought he was alone in the building. That was how we found out we had been totally forgotten when the police gave the evacuation order an hour or more before. They’d evacuated every building a top the underground Federal Reserve because they thought a plane might dive into one of the buildings and no one had remembered us in our 4th floor sanctuary. Driving home was an eerie experience almost everyone was already gone and the 101 freeway was empty. That does not happen in LA.

I remember going home and just staring at the TV crying and trying to make sense of the nonsensical. I lit all kinds of candles for prayers because there wasn’t much else a person could do and hoped no one else I knew was involved.

I later ordered the book that volunteers had put together of all the photos from New Yorkers. I still have never made it through the entire book. It’s just too awful.

A prayer for 9/11

Written a year later

A Prayer for 9/11

I remember

I remember and wish for peace

I ask blessing on those who lost their lives or health that day

I remember the Tower card come alive before my eyes

I ask for understanding of how people can do evil to other people they have never met

I ask that all people learn to listen to each other and to hear one another

I ask that people see the sameness in each other and not the differences

I ask that we see the brother, sister, uncle or aunt, mother or father in one another’s eyes

I ask that we hear each other’s wishes and dreams for the world and to allow all good visions of the world to exist

I ask us to respect the beliefs of all beings and allow them to exist

To know that all people hold their beliefs dear and allow them to allow other belief systems room

I ask for us to remember the good of helping others that day as well as remembering the evil perpetrated by a few men

I ask for peace in the world and I ask for understanding that no one person is right and that all people have rights to live and love and laugh in this world as they pursue happiness