Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 REMEMBERED (Guest Post)

Today marks the
eleventh anniversary
of one of the most
tragic events in our
nation's history. And 
on this occasion, I
feel compelled to 
reflect on 9/11
through the personal
story of someone
who was there —
Michelle Wilson
 

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On September 11, 2001, I was sitting in the unemployment office in Freeport, New York, a Long Island suburb of Manhattan—less than an hour away. I had accepted a position with a real estate appraisal firm, although I really did not want the job. My son was almost four and in preschool, my seven-month-old baby girl was waiting for me at home, and I was pregnant with my last baby. What I was thinking to accept this position I don’t know (the job lasted three days—I couldn’t bear to be away from my baby girl), but I had to meet with the unemployment people and make it official. As I waited, and waited, and waited, growing more frustrated and annoyed, I couldn’t imagine what could be causing this delay. Even for a government-run office, this was ridiculous. Finally, after what seemed like half a day, a woman came out and apologized for the delay. It seemed there was some situation in NYC involving a plane flying into one of the Twin Towers. Her daughter worked there, and she had finally made contact with her and she was ok. Thinking this was just a random bizarre accident, we proceeded with our appointed meeting and concluded it in a timely fashion.
 
I left the building and got back into my car, beginning the thirty-minute drive back home. The radio was delivering the panicked news—PLANES were flying into the Twin Towers AND the Pentagon—what? A plane was hijacked and eternal heroes eventually emerged. Here I am, pregnant, hormonal, driving by myself, one kid in preschool thirty minutes away, my mother babysitting my seven-month-old daughter at home, and my then-husband at work—also thirty minutes away in the other direction. Frantically calling everyone at once while driving as quickly as possible to reach my house, crying and truly believing that a nuclear missile was about to blow Long Island off the map, I thought I would never reach home. My husband left work to pick up my son and we all stayed glued to the TV as the horrific events unfolded.
 
My son went to preschool in Farmingdale, New York, about a twenty-minute ride from home. That town lost so many firefighters and police, including parents of children from my son’s preschool. There were countless police-escorted funerals through that town. I  stood on Main Street for every one them to support these fallen heroes. My hometown lost two men in particular, Rich Bruehert, a friend of mine from long ago who worked in one of the towers, and Brian McAleese, a city firefighter. In a strange and ironic twist of fate, Rich dated a woman for years, and then they ended their relationship. She then dated and married Brian and they had four children. Both of these men lost their lives.
 
Everyone has different memories of this day—I think there are few people who could say that they don’t recall exactly where they were and what they were doing. This is not an easy story to write, I will say that. I feel as if I am reliving it while I type and the images and emotions it evokes are fresh and brutal. I’m always haunted by the memories, but the one thought that always remains foremost in my mind is the woman from the unemployment office. I think about her all the time. Did her daughter really make it out? I pray for them every time I think of it but I will never know. I just keep picturing over and over the crumbling implosion of those buildings, and I say a prayer for all those whose lost lives forever changed the shape of our twisted world.
 
-Michelle Wilson
(September 2012)

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AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com
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