9/11 the somber hey 19

9/11/2001 New York City as seen from Brooklyn

It’s September 11, 2020. It is the 19th unbelievable anniversary of 9/11. One of the things that 9/11 taught us, as journalist Harry Smith on NBC’s Today Show just pointed out on the morning news is in this great country if we look, there is more that unites us versus divides us, and we learned that from 9/11. He also remarked that it’s hard for us to see it now and it is. We are a country divided. We can’t remain a country divided and this somber anniversary is the best example why.

United we stand, divided we fall. Last year when I wrote about 9/11, I remarked about the offensive plans that didn’t happen of the current president to meet with the Taliban at Camp David just before 9/11. I was thinking about that this morning and reflecting on 2020 to date. We don’t have a leader, we have a circus ringmaster. That’s not a leader. And on this 19th anniversary of 9/11, I pray for a country united and for real leadership. Every American regardless of race, creed, political persuasion, or color deserves this.

Now this 9/11 I am also going to pause and remember two men I went to college with. I’m not going to be some kind of weird death hypocrite and say I really knew them or they were my close friends because they weren’t. They were both people I met a couple of times, but people I never really knew who were close to people important to me to this very day. They lost their lives in 9/11.

Doug Cherry worked for AON. I remember when I found out that he had died in the trade center because I worked for then Wachovia Securities, and AON had a large office literally across the hall. Someone I knew from that office had oddly remembered I went to Ohio Weslyan for a while. So they told me when they learned the names of those who had died in their company. But that wasn’t on 9/11 that was in the days that followed. I remember afterwards the days that followed when you started to see the roll call of names of people lost. I remember when I heard about Doug I kind of felt old and felt my own mortality for the first time. He was my class, and although he wasn’t a close friend or somebody I even really knew back then, we went to a small school so you remembered the faces even if you didn’t remember the people. That was the case with Ted Luckett. He was the class ahead, and again somebody I didn’t know but remembered. But I remembered back then is he liked to sail — there were a lot of guys who went to Ohio Weslyan who were amazing sailors. Even on America’s Cup crews.

February 26, 1993 The garage bomb terrorist attack
on the World Trade Center
.

As I write this it is 8:46 AM. This is when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. It was at this moment I was pulling into my garage back then where I worked for then Wachovia Securities in Conshohocken. I was listening to the radio. I remember the tears just starting to roll down my face because I knew, I knew they (terrorists) came back because I had walked out of the World Trade Center shopping concourse in 1993 when they blew up the garage. And when I say when, as the bomb detonated I was standing on the sidewalk outside looking at Century 21. If life has been different I might still have been working in New York City on September 11, 2001.

I also remember as I walked into my office and all the brokers were riveted to television screens in their offices and their computers, at that point in time most people didn’t believe those were terrorist attacks. They just thought like a small plane had gone into the trade center. It was a crazy surreal morning as the news started to unfold. It’s crazy how clearly I can still remember it. I think this is like it was for our parents the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. You remember where you were and what you were doing.

So it’s been 19 years, what have we learned? I found this blog post of someone’s memories of 9/11. Please read it. Someone else I went to school with and don’t remember. They were fraternity brothers with Doug Cherry. It’s heartbreaking to read.

This year we are still in the grips of COVID19, so the ceremonies for 9/11 are very different. They are smaller and they are not reading the rollcall of lives lost. So today we all have to remember those we knew or knew of who were lost.

One of the other things I remember on this day 19 years ago, two sisters I grew up with who were close childhood family friends and still are. One, at the time, worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The other I think worked for Marsh and McLennan at the time but can’t remember for sure, but she did work somewhere in the World Trade Center. I remember being in a panic for days until I found out they were OK. They were both out of state visiting their parents.

So it is true, we never forget this day and never will. But what have we learned? I think we need to pay it forward as a country in memory of all of those first responders and others who lost their lives. We need to be better versions of ourselves. We need to come together as a country. We need peace and less racial divide. Is that possible? I don’t know. But we can try.

I don’t really have that much else to say about 9/11 today. I am going to list all the other columns I have written over the years since I started this blog.

Wishing you peace on a somber day.

9/11 written September 11, 2012

9/11 2012: from the air

9/11: 13 years. what have we learned? September 11, 2014

remembering 9/11 September 11, 2015

9/11 : 17 years. never forget. September 11, 2018

on the eve of 9/11 September 9, 2019

#NeverForget

9/11 Memorial in New Jersey

on the eve of 9/11

In two days it’s another anniversary of 9/11. It has been 18 years.

Above is a screenshot of a New York Times newsletter email I opened this morning.

I. Can’t. Even.

On the eve of 9/11, no less.

February, 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Let me tell you a true story…

I came out of the trade center during the first trade center bombing. February 26, 1993. I was working on Wall Street for a municipal bond trading firm and I had gone with a friend from work into the shopping concourse of the old trade center because this woman – her name was Deirdre – had wanted to visit the Hallmark Gold Crown store – her grandmother or someone collected their Christmas ornaments and they were on a clearance sale.

So we went there and we grabbed lunch, and as we were standing right outside the trade center staring at Century 21 Department Store and wondering if we had enough time to go in there as well, the ground started to shake. Like you would imagine an earthquake. And then we thought it was snowing because all the stuff was floating down in the sky. We of course later realized that was like soot and ashes and stuff and then one by one it was the strange cacophony of car alarms in the garage going off like weird church bells. Then the sirens of first responders started.

But at first, right after it happened, time stood still. The explosion underground which caused the sidewalks to move underneath our feet, followed by a hold your breath moment of complete silence. Then came the chaos.

We got back to our office which was at 44 Wall Street and people were all freaked out. It was at that point we learned what had actually happened and came to the realization of how lucky we were to get out.

Over the course of the next couple of hours we had “refugees” that we knew from the twin towers who had to go down hundreds of flights of steps in some cases and came to our offices to wash the soot off their faces and just chill.

I remember this girl name Katie who was a trading assistant along with me whose fiancé worked for Dean Witter at the time. He was one of those people that had to walk down lots and lots of stairs and showed up in our office looking like he was completely done in black face but it was soot. And he was shaking, just standing perfectly still in our reception area, shaking. I will never forget it.

So when 9/11 rolled around and the first report came over my car radio, tears started streaming down my face as I sat in my office parking garage. They came back was the only thing that went through my head. Then my cell phone rang and it was my late father who at the time was on a train to New York City to head into his office. He was reaching Metro Park and I told him to get off and turn around and come home and he didn’t listen to me because the Amtrak conductors told him it would be fine.

My late brother in law was working in NYC by this point and thankfully he was able to meet up with my father and they holed up in someone’s apartment for a couple of days until they were able to get out of the city. But it was scary when they were all cut off from us with no phone communication whatsoever. Because it was absolute insanity in New York when the towers came down.

I remember when I went up to my office in between the first plane and the second plane and people were crowded around TVs and some broker’s office and I remember again I said “they came back.”

People looked at me and said you don’t know what you’re talking about it’s just a small plane that crashed into the side of the trade center. A horrible accident. Then the second plane hit. Then you had the news out of the other two planes.

I think all of our lives in some small way changed on 9/11. For years I kept running into people that knew people who died. People I knew from college died in the twin towers. They weren’t people I knew very well but a small school on a small campus they were people you recognized.

And our current President was going to meet with the Taliban at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 except it got cancelled?

WTF. Seriously, WTF????

How Trump’s Plan to Secretly Meet With the Taliban Came Together, and Fell Apart

New York Times

By Peter Baker, Mujib Mashal and Michael Crowley. Published Sept. 8, 2019
Updated Sept. 9, 2019, 8:35 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON — On the Friday before Labor Day, President Trump gathered top advisers in the Situation Room to consider what could be among the profound decisions of his presidency — a peace plan with the Taliban after 18 years of grinding, bloody war in Afghanistan.

The meeting brought to a head a bristling conflict dividing his foreign policy team for months, pitting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo against John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, in a battle for the competing instincts of a president who relishes tough talk but promised to wind down America’s endless wars…..In the days that followed, Mr. Trump came up with an even more remarkable idea — he would not only bring the Taliban to Washington, but to Camp David, the crown jewel of the American presidency. The leaders of a rugged militant organization deemed terrorists by the United States would be hosted in the mountain getaway used for presidents, prime ministers and kings just three days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that led to the Afghan war.

Thus began an extraordinary few days of ad hoc diplomatic wrangling that upended the talks in a weekend Twitter storm. On display were all of the characteristic traits of the Trump presidency — the yearning ambition for the grand prize, the endless quest to achieve what no other president has achieved, the willingness to defy convention, the volatile mood swings and the tribal infighting….And even after it fell apart, Mr. Trump took it upon himself to disclose the secret machinations in a string of Saturday night Twitter messages that surprised not only many national security officials across the government but even some of the few who were part of the deliberations.

No words. I just don’t get politics except for the overwhelming feeling on the eve of 9/11 that national politics just must be for dangerously selfish and narcissistic people.

Timing is everything and had this meeting happened it would have created more opportunistic divisiveness in this country.

Enough already. Some dates on the US calendar need to be respected. Stop already the national politics of self aggrandizing narcissistic behavior.

The timing of this just disgusts me.

9/11

9/11 : 17 years. never forget.

It’s 8:45 AM and 8:46 AM the moment of silence at the World Trade Center Memorial in NYC begins.

17 years ago today, everything changed. 2983 people lost their lives.

On February 23, 1993 there was the first attack on the World Trade Center. 25 years ago.

The years move away from the dates, but we never forget. They are literally dates which live in our minds in infamy. To paraphrase FDR, who was in his time, referring to Pearl Harbor.

The photo this post opens with is one I took this summer and it is the controversial 9/11 Memorial in New Jersey. Known as the “teardrop memorial”, it is located in Bayonne. I think it has a kind of strength and beauty to it.

On the anniversary of 9/11 in 2012 I was invited to ride in my friend Barry’s American flag hot air balloon over Chester County. As we left on our hot air balloon flight when I looked down this is what I saw:

This is what they were looking at and what I saw looking up:

I am forever grateful to my friend Barry because this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that was deeply meaningful and I shall never forget it.

In the last 17 years our country has gone through crazy times, perhaps none more so than today. But we have to take a moment and pause and remember all those Americans who lost their lives for our freedoms. Because even if they did not die on a battlefield or in combat, they died for all of us.

I will close with a reader’s editorial I wrote for the then editor of Main Line Life, Tom Murray. Folks in Chester County will remember him as the editor of The Daily Local before he passed away.

I wrote this piece in 2006:

Sept. 11, 2006, is the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and United Airlines Flight 93’s crash in the field in Shanksville, Somerset County. This date has special significance to every American, and intense personal significance to far too many individuals who lost friends and loved ones.

But September 11, wasn’t the first time terrorists visited the World Trade Center. In truth, Feb. 26, 1993. was the date of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. I worked in New York at that time at an office located downtown in the financial district.

On that day, I had accompanied an office friend to the World Trade Center to grab an early lunch and to check out some stores in the shopping concourse. We were back outside the Trade Center buildings, getting ready to cross the street, when suddenly the ground shook and moved. I remember that we were looking directly across the street at Century 21, a department store in Lower Manhattan. Then something happened that rarely happens in New York: Everything went eerily still and quiet. We looked up at what we first thought were snowflakes beginning to float and fall from the sky. After all, it was February. Then car alarms began to go off one by one like the cacophony of many distorted bells. The snowflakes, we soon discovered, were in reality ashes.

People began yelling and screaming. It became very confusing and chaotic all at once, like someone flipped a switch to “on.” At first, we both felt rooted to the sidewalk, unable to move. I remember feeling a sense of panic at the unknown. We had absolutely no idea what had happened, and hurried back to our office. Reaching it, we were greeted by worried coworkers who told us that someone had set off a bomb underground in the World Trade Center garage.

I will never forget the crazy kaleidoscope of images, throughout that afternoon, of all the people who were related to or knew people in my office who sought refuge in our office after walking down the innumerable flights of steps in the dark to exit the World Trade Center Towers. They arrived with soot all over their faces, hands and clothes. They all wore zombie looks of shock, disbelief and panic.

Of course, the oddest thing about the first terrorist attack on New York City is that I don’t remember much lasting fuss about it. I do remember that President Bill Clinton was newly sworn into office, but I don’t remember him coming to visit New York after the attack. Everything was back to normal in Lower Manhattan in about a month, maybe two. After a while, unless you had worked in New York, or lived in New York, you simply forgot about this “incident.”

So, on the morning of 9/11, as I pulled into my office building’s garage and listened to the breaking news on the radio announcing that a plane had struck the World Trade Center, tears began to run down my face unbidden. I knew in my heart of hearts what happened. I said to myself, “Oh no. They came back.”

I remember picking up my cell phone to call my father, whom I knew to be, at that time, on an Amtrak train bound for New York City. I remember him telling me it was fine and he’d be fine. I wanted him to get off in New Jersey and take a train back to Philadelphia. But the train was already pretty much past all the stations and getting ready to go into the tunnel to New York. That very thought terrified me. To this day, I still do not understand why Amtrak did not stop those last trains from going into New York City as the news of the World Trade Center attacks first broke.

I next remember getting in the elevator and getting off on my office floor to find people clustered around television sets and radios. And the news kept getting worse: first one plane, then a second, then a third, and then a fourth.

The images and news just didn’t stop. Camera cuts from lower Manhattan to Washington to Somerset County. They are images that have to be ingrained in everyone’s mind forever like indelible ink.

It took a couple of days for my father and brother-in-law (who had already been in New York on business) to get out of the city, but eventually they got home safely with many stories to tell of what New York was like in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. A lot of people weren’t so lucky. They never saw their loved ones again after that fateful morning. Many people in the Philadelphia and greater Main Line area lost friends, coworkers and loved ones.

On September 11, I knew people who were lost, but fortunately I didn’t lose any loved ones. I remember for a brief time it seemed we were all a little nicer to each other, and politicians actually seemed to come together as one and grieve as a nation grieved.

But here we are five short years later. I have only seen the site one time where the World Trade Center once stood proudly. That was about a year after the attacks. I remember a distinct pit in my stomach and looked away from the car window. This past June I was in Washington, and had the same intense, awful feeling in my stomach as we drove on the highway past the Pentagon.

Life must go on and time can’t stand still, but all in all I can’t help but wonder: What have we learned since about our country and about ourselves? Five years after 9/11 what have we learned and what have we forgotten? What do we need to remember?

freedom of speech upheld by superior court

Image result for first amendment

As of a few short days ago, Pennsylvania’s Superior Court dismissed  the SLAPP suit I have been a named resident in for quite some time. It has been over the Bishop Tube site in East Whiteland Malvern/Frazer. The original suit was filed June 27, 2017 in the Court of Common Pleas in Chester County by the site developer.

In August of 2017, Judge Sommers, the judge who presided over the case in Chester County dismissed the suit.  After that, an appeal was filed by the developer’s attorneys in Superior Court.

I have no idea if there will be an appeal by the plaintiff up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Almost a year ago the Superior Court appeal was filed.  It was filed right around the time PA State Senator Larry Farnese held a press conference I could not attend on anti-SLAPP legislation. I sent in a statement. Here is part of what I said then (in italics):

As children we are taught how the founding fathers of this great nation fought, bled,
and died for our rights and freedoms. Yet today, in a modern world, it feels like we still
must fight against injustice and for our very freedoms and, in my opinion, freedom of
speech and expression is particularly threatened. As a native of Philadelphia, the
birthplace of our American freedoms, I find that deeply troubling.

As a blogger, I have been aware of SLAPP suits for years. This year, I became embroiled in one, in Chester County, where I live. The suit is over the potential development of an old factory site in Malvern, East Whiteland Township known as Bishop Tube. I am a  resident of East Whiteland Township.

I had written about the Bishop Tube site on my blog. I am not the only one who has
ever written about it or ever has had questions about it. The site has also been written
about in newspaper articles off and on for many years. According to the Pennsylvania
Department of Environmental Protection (“PA DEP”), there is TCE contamination on
this site. (Reference the PA DEP website’s Bishop Tube page).

I am a breast cancer survivor who underwent breast cancer treatment and, as a
survivor, a site like this should be a concern in my opinion. As a resident I should also
be able to express my opinions and/or ask questions. SLAPP suits are an invasive, fearsome kind of thing. Finding oneself in the middle of something like this feels like you are being bullied and harassed. It can also be unbearably costly. Frequently the suit bringer hopes this is what will defeat you.

Mostly, it makes you wonder about the good and honor of human kind.

Caring about where you live is not wrong, it is democracy in action. When people take
an interest in where they live, it is a powerful force. It is rarely easy for the residents
involved, and I think it does take great courage.

Our American freedoms are a real thing, not just lofty ideals tucked away in a 200+ year-old vault.  Think about that as we are also on the eve of 9/11.  Never forget September 11, 2001.  This is yet another date in the annals of U.S. history which will live in infamy.  Remember all those souls and first responders who lost their lives. They lost their lives because of our American ideals and freedoms even if they were not lives specifically lost on a battlefield in combat.

I can’t believe tomorrow it is 17 years already since 9/11.

I will close with saying thank you to Maya van Rossum and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and their amazing lawyers, Mark L. Freed and Jordan B. Yeager of Curtin & Heefner LLP. I will also thank my own attorney, Samuel Stretton of West Chester.

Our inalienable rights as Americans exist for good reason.  Hopefully this issue is now at a close, but again, who knows? We live in strange times.

Here is the media coverage thus far along with what the Delaware Riverkeeper has said:

PENNSYLVANIA
State court ruling favors Chesco residents protesting brownfield development
by Vinny Vella, Philadelphia Inquirer

State Impact PA SEPTEMBER 07, 2018 | 05:48 PM
Court rejects developer’s effort to block protest against town homes plan
Delaware Riverkeeper Network says suit tried to silence its right to free speech
by Jon Hurdle

Daily Local News: Lawsuit denied concerning Bishop Tube site
Digital First Media Sep 7, 2018

Law360: Pa. Developer’s Defamation Suit Against Enviros Stays Nixed
By Matt Fair

Delaware Riverkeeper Network: SLAPP Suit Filed By Developer Against Environmental & Community Opposition Struck Down by PA Superior Court

remembering 9/11

 Sept. 11, 2015, is the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and United Airlines Flight 93’s crash in the field in Shanksville, Somerset County. This date has special significance to every American, and intense personal significance to far too many individuals who lost friends and loved ones. 

But September 11, wasn’t the first time terrorists visited the World Trade Center. In truth, Feb. 26, 1993. was the date of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. I worked in New York at that time at an office located downtown in the financial district at 44 Wall Street.

On that day, I had accompanied an office friend to the World Trade Center to grab an early lunch and to check out some stores in the shopping concourse. We were back outside the Trade Center buildings, getting ready to cross the street, when suddenly the ground shook and moved. I remember that we were looking directly across the street at Century 21, a department store in Lower Manhattan. Then something happened that rarely happens in New York: Everything went eerily still and quiet. We looked up at what we first thought were snowflakes beginning to float and fall from the sky. After all, it was February.

Then car alarms began to go off one by one like the cacophony of many distorted bells. The snowflakes, we soon discovered, were in reality ashes. 

People began yelling and screaming. It became very confusing and chaotic all at once, like someone flipped a switch to “on.” At first, we both felt rooted to the sidewalk, unable to move. I remember feeling a sense of panic at the unknown. We had absolutely no idea what had happened, and hurried back to our office. Reaching it, we were greeted by worried coworkers who told us that someone had set off a bomb underground in the World Trade Center garage. 

I will never forget the crazy kaleidoscope of images, throughout that afternoon, of all the people who were related to or knew people in my office who sought refuge in our office after walking down the innumerable flights of steps in the dark to exit the World Trade Center Towers. They arrived with soot all over their faces, hands and clothes. They all wore zombie looks of shock, disbelief and panic.

Of course, the oddest thing about the first terrorist attack on New York City is that I don’t remember much lasting fuss about it. I do remember that President Bill Clinton was newly sworn into office, but I don’t remember him or his wife Hillary coming to visit New York after the attack. (And now she is “Hillary for America” and wants to be President? Where was she then as our then First Lady?) 

Everything was back to normal in Lower Manhattan in about a month, maybe two. After a while, unless you had worked in New York, or lived in New York, you simply forgot about this “incident.”

  
  
So, on the morning of 9/11, as I pulled into my office building’s garage and listened to the breaking news on the radio announcing that a plane had struck the World Trade Center, tears began to run down my face unbidden. I knew in my heart of hearts what happened. I said to myself, “Oh no. They came back.”

I remember picking up my cell phone to call my father, whom I knew to be, at that time, on an Amtrak train bound for New York City. I remember him telling me it was fine and he’d be fine. I wanted him to get off in New Jersey and take a train back to Philadelphia. But the train was already pretty much past all the stations and getting ready to go into the tunnel to New York. That very thought terrified me. To this day, I still do not understand why Amtrak did not stop those last trains from going into New York City as the news of the World Trade Center attacks first broke.

I next remember getting in the elevator and getting off on my office floor to find people clustered around television sets and radios. And the news kept getting worse: first one plane, then a second, then a third, and then a fourth. 

The images and news just didn’t stop. Camera cuts from lower Manhattan to Washington to Somerset County. They are images that have to be ingrained in everyone’s mind forever like indelible ink. 

It took a couple of days for my father and brother-in-law (who had already been in New York on business) to get out of the city, but eventually they got home safely with many stories to tell of what New York was like in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. A lot of people weren’t so lucky. They never saw their loved ones again after that fateful morning. Many people in the Philadelphia and greater Main Line area lost friends, coworkers and loved ones. 

On September 11, I knew people who were lost, but fortunately I didn’t lose any loved ones. I have friends who did and who lost co-workers and staff they were responsible for. I remember for a brief time it seemed we were all a little nicer to each other, and politicians actually seemed to come together as one and grieve as a nation grieved. 

But here we are fourteen years later. I have only seen the site twice where the World Trade Center once stood proudly. The first time was about a year after the attacks. I remember a distinct pit in my stomach and looked away from the car window. I was in Washington a few years ago, and had the same intense, awful feeling in my stomach as we drove on the highway past the Pentagon. 

In 2015 we are a country divided by often extreme partisan politics. Our economy is only so-so, and the government seems skewed even more every day towards special interests. Middle Eastern immigrants are flooding the shores of any country that will help them escape the tyranny and bloodshed that is all they know. 

In Chester County local governments are letting oil and gas companies like Sunoco and residential developers destroy where we call home so they can rape the land for their gain and profit. Small potatoes I am sure to some when compared to 9/11, but to me they are two more examples of life off-balance. Other things include the news. I am and always have been a news junkie, but find myself watching and reading it less because it often seems as if it’s all bad news.

Face it, we are ALL different after 9/11, but I have to say we have become a country divided. Over everything. From the town to town, city to city, state to state to Washingtn D.C., we have become a country of extremism – especially politically. We are all still Americans, but are we always proud of that? Hyper liberal, hyper conservative, what happened to the people in the middle? Who cares about the people in the middle?

When did it become a crime to disagree with the status quo? To disagree with elected officials? To wish for better in the gray shades of a desperate recession? To be just a little bit different?

A country still at war, at war with itself inside our own borders. Who will do the healing if not each one of us ourselves? Who do we believe in? Who can we believe in? Can we hope for anything or is hope still just an overused word in our everyday vernacular? We have people who  shoot up churches in Charleston, murder a reporter and her cameraman in cold blood in a live shot, people who randomly shoot up shopping malls and movie theaters, and even worse the ugliness I remember from my childhood a race riots.

A few years ago now I rode in my friend Barry’s balloon shaped like a giant American flag on 9/11. We soared over parts of Chester County. It was such am amazing and peaceful yet exhilarating and powerful feeling. A great way to remember 9/11.

Life must go on and time can’t stand still, but all in all I can’t help but wonder: What have we learned since about our country and about ourselves? Fourteen years after 9/11 what have we learned and what have we forgotten? What do we need to remember?

Simply said, as a country we need to do better. From local to national we need to do better, to be better. We need to vote smarter and field better candidates for public office.  On every level of government, even at the most local we need fewer apologists in office, and more who are actually accountable.

Finally today, take a minute and remember our first responders. They are every day heroes we can believe in.

Thanks for stopping by.   #NeverForget 

9/11: 13 years. what have we learned?

IMG_1488.JPG

Today is the 13th anniversary of 9/11. Below is a column I wrote for a newspaper on the 5th anniversary of 9/11. I am posting it again today. Today I also ask the question once again of what have we learned?

This morning I was going through various things and happened upon a mom board I am part of for lack of a better description. One of the threads I saw which I found appalling on today of all days is how a bunch of moms and one man long past his child rearing years hopped all over this one woman who was describing a door to door salesperson that she had problems with. The poor woman was lambasted and called a racist for giving a complete description of the salesperson. All she was doing was describing the person and what happened. But the political correctness police jumped all over her.

I often wonder why the political correctness police seem to operate in a mob mentality and the horrible irony of them doing this today of all days. You know, the anniversary of when terrorists targeted us with a sort of mob mentality just because we were Americans?

Now Americans and others face a new,or should I say additional terror in the form of those ISIS people. Two American journalists have been executed by these people. So when will that end? Not in our lifetimes I think.

We seem to live in a world filled with so many horrors beyond our control. We need to just keep living because what is the alternative? I guess that is what I have learned in the last 13 years.

We need to keep living and we should also never forget what happened September 11, 2001 and honor those who have lost their lives by trying to be better people.

Here is my column from 2006:

Sept. 11, 2006, is the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and United Airlines Flight 93’s crash in the field in Shanksville, Somerset County. This date has special significance to every American, and intense personal significance to far too many individuals who lost friends and loved ones.

But September 11, wasn’t the first time terrorists visited the World Trade Center. In truth, Feb. 26, 1993. was the date of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. I worked in New York at that time at an office located downtown in the financial district.

On that day, I had accompanied an office friend to the World Trade Center to grab an early lunch and to check out some stores in the shopping concourse. We were back outside the Trade Center buildings, getting ready to cross the street, when suddenly the ground shook and moved. I remember that we were looking directly across the street at Century 21, a department store in Lower Manhattan. Then something happened that rarely happens in New York: Everything went eerily still and quiet. We looked up at what we first thought were snowflakes beginning to float and fall from the sky. After all, it was February. Then car alarms began to go off one by one like the cacophony of many distorted bells. The snowflakes, we soon discovered, were in reality ashes.

People began yelling and screaming. It became very confusing and chaotic all at once, like someone flipped a switch to “on.” At first, we both felt rooted to the sidewalk, unable to move. I remember feeling a sense of panic at the unknown. We had absolutely no idea what had happened, and hurried back to our office. Reaching it, we were greeted by worried coworkers who told us that someone had set off a bomb underground in the World Trade Center garage.

I will never forget the crazy kaleidoscope of images, throughout that afternoon, of all the people who were related to or knew people in my office who sought refuge in our office after walking down the innumerable flights of steps in the dark to exit the World Trade Center Towers. They arrived with soot all over their faces, hands and clothes. They all wore zombie looks of shock, disbelief and panic.

Of course, the oddest thing about the first terrorist attack on New York City is that I don’t remember much lasting fuss about it. I do remember that President Bill Clinton was newly sworn into office, but I don’t remember him coming to visit New York after the attack. Everything was back to normal in Lower Manhattan in about a month, maybe two. After a while, unless you had worked in New York, or lived in New York, you simply forgot about this “incident.”

So, on the morning of 9/11, as I pulled into my office building’s garage and listened to the breaking news on the radio announcing that a plane had struck the World Trade Center, tears began to run down my face unbidden. I knew in my heart of hearts what happened. I said to myself, “Oh no. They came back.”

I remember picking up my cell phone to call my father, whom I knew to be, at that time, on an Amtrak train bound for New York City. I remember him telling me it was fine and he’d be fine. I wanted him to get off in New Jersey and take a train back to Philadelphia. But the train was already pretty much past all the stations and getting ready to go into the tunnel to New York. That very thought terrified me. To this day, I still do not understand why Amtrak did not stop those last trains from going into New York City as the news of the World Trade Center attacks first broke.

I next remember getting in the elevator and getting off on my office floor to find people clustered around television sets and radios. And the news kept getting worse: first one plane, then a second, then a third, and then a fourth.

The images and news just didn’t stop. Camera cuts from lower Manhattan to Washington to Somerset County. They are images that have to be ingrained in everyone’s mind forever like indelible ink.

It took a couple of days for my father and brother-in-law (who had already been in New York on business) to get out of the city, but eventually they got home safely with many stories to tell of what New York was like in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. A lot of people weren’t so lucky. They never saw their loved ones again after that fateful morning. Many people in the Philadelphia and greater Main Line area lost friends, coworkers and loved ones.

On September 11, I knew people who were lost, but fortunately I didn’t lose any loved ones. I remember for a brief time it seemed we were all a little nicer to each other, and politicians actually seemed to come together as one and grieve as a nation grieved.

But here we are five short years later. I have only seen the site one time where the World Trade Center once stood proudly. That was about a year after the attacks. I remember a distinct pit in my stomach and looked away from the car window. This past June I was in Washington, and had the same intense, awful feeling in my stomach as we drove on the highway past the Pentagon.

Life must go on and time can’t stand still, but all in all I can’t help but wonder: What have we learned since about our country and about ourselves? Five years after 9/11 what have we learned and what have we forgotten? What do we need to remember?

about those photos I promised to post…

….file under long overdue, life got in the way.  Here at long last are the photos from my 9/11 hot air balloon ride.  The cover shot here is of a father and his child.  No idea who they were, just love the moment of the photo. A first responder and the next generation taking part in remembering 9/11.  People like this are the real deal, pure and simple.

CLICK HERE to check all of the photos out.

Thank you again to my friends Teri and Barry for taking me up on such a special day for such a special ride.

Now I am sure the freaks in West Vincent who think nice hard-working people like this are awful will immediately tear into this photo set to see who was there on 9/11.  Here’s a tip: resist the urge to be freaks.  Appreciate the good people in this world and all those fabulous first responders who joined us.

Enjoy the photos, all.

 

of freedom and balloon rides

I will admit to still being up in the clouds after yesterday’s hot air balloon ride.  It was such an amazing experience.  As a breast cancer survivor, like many others, I have a bucket list.  I had never been on a hot-air balloon, and while I would never sky-dive, this is something I wanted to do. So I can cross this off my list!!

I took hundreds of photos…including from the air….I am still sifting through most of them.

9/11 has a very significant resonance with Americans.  Like the assassination of President Kennedy or say, Martin Luther King, Jr. this will live in our memories and hearts forever.

Yesterday however, more Americans died on 9/11.  In fact, a total of four Americans died in Libya in an extremist attack.  Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other embassy staffers were brutally gunned down by a rocket attack on the car they were riding in.  In addition to this horrific event in Libya, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt was also attacked.  The Washington Post says the whole thing in Libya may have been planned in advance.

I am so tired of Middle East conflict. Let them have their holy war on another people. The Christian Science Monitor has a wonderful piece all should read.

So I don’t know what to think.  I was moved nearly to tears yesterday when all those first responders from Chester County showed up to watch the balloons take off.  A sea of mostly blue uniform shirts dotting a freshly cut green field.

It’s so weird, I find a very famous quote haunting me this afternoon.  The quote is from our Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I am glad we are free, but I wish people would stop blowing up Americans.  And on our own soil, I wish the petty tyranny of small minded government officials in local municipalities like Tredyffrin and West Vincent would cease.

I am proud to be an American but petty tyranny and unecessary death and destruction makes me sad.

One other thing.  Yesterday I rode in the flag balloon with a favorite Chester County reporter from The Daily Local, Sara Mosqueda-Fernandez.  Here is her article about our ride:

By SARA MOSQUEDA-FERNANDEZ
smfernandez@dailylocal.com
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
UPPER UWCHLAN — Hot air balloons, including one styled as an American flag, honored first responders Tuesday in Eagle on the 11th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
America One, an experimental hot air balloon that measures 78 feet long and 53 feet high, took off with three other hot air balloons to honor the lives lost 11 years ago and to thank the county’s emergency responders, many of whom are volunteers.
“We greatly appreciate you being out here, especially as volunteers,” Barry DiLibero said prior to taking off in America One. “You sacrifice so much more of your time for no pay. This is always our thank you to you for all that you do.”
Present at the event were Lionville, Kimberton, West Whiteland, Glenmoore, Goshen and Honeybrook fire companies, who were only notified about the event less than 24 hours prior to lift off….According to Barry DiLibero, this expression of thanks to emergency responders is unique, producing not only a gigantic and patriotic sight, but also evoking both joy and sadness. The spectrum of reactions to enormous balloon was evident in older generations who can clearly recall the attacks, and in the community members, young and old, who watched the balloons from the take-off or waving from their backyards, with even some children chasing after the balloon to watch and aid as it touched back down after its flight.
“(Today) was amazing,” said Barry DiLibero. “(The fire companies) understand the power of the flag, and what it means. It’s about your love of country, your appreciation for living where we live, and what it means, what it represents to all of us.”

 

 

 

 

 

9/11 2012: from the air

Ok this afternoon I took part in the coolest thing: a 9/11 commemorative hot air balloon ride over Chester County.  There were several balloons.  I rode in one shaped like a giant American flag.

I had never been on a hot air balloon ride and this was an awesome experience.

We left from near Eagle and landed in Devault.

When we took off, we were joined by many, many spectators and at least five fire companies.  It was incredibly moving to see all those first responders on 9/11.

I have hundreds of photos to go through.

More tomorrow!