Sunday, September 11, 2011
Ten years ago today, I was looking out my dining room window in my Stamford, CT penthouse and watched the Twin Towers fall before my very eyes. The TV was on, so I kept looking at the live television coverage and then went back to looking through my binoculars--trying to digest the horrid reality that was taking place. My brother worked at Morgan Stanley at the time, which had an office in Tower Two. But I knew he was safe since my sister-in-law called and said he was on his way to Laguardia Airport for a business trip. My parents were staying with me that day. I will never forget my father sitting on my balcony smoking one cigarette after another, strangely numbed by what he was watching. He kept saying: "This is really going change everything, this is going to change everything--your brother's career, the country". Looking back I think he was in a kind of shock. Mom just got on the phone calling her mom, her brother, her sister, her cousin and everyone she knew. Then she would just sit there on the phone line, crying. One of my brother's dear friends, Pete Bennett, was caught up in the whole nightmare downtown, watching people going in free fall towards their deaths, and finally just running for his life. That evening, we all gathered at my brother's home. Of course, Tom's limo turned around and brought him home since all planes were grounded. Pete Bennett and his wife and kids were there. We deliberately kept the conversation somber and to a minimum, since it was too difficult for Pete to talk about what he witnessed that morning--especially in front of all the kids. Before we had our meal together we simply joined hands and prayed. There was a man I had gone on a date with a week earlier who worked in Tower One. But for the Grace of God he took the Path train for New Jersey at 8am to a meeting that September morning and escaped the entire tragedy. He was stuck in New Jersey for days, but he was safe. A friend of a friend was widowed on 9/11. But the neighborhood came together for her daughter Chloe in October, when a brand new car with a ribbon sat in the driveway for her 16th Birthday. For every sad, tragic stories during the weeks that followed after September 11, there were uplifting stories just like that, too. I cringe every year when I have to look at the images of the Twin Towers crashing into white dust. But I loved seeing the two white lights shooting up to the heavens every time I drove around New York City in the months that followed the tragedy. Just like every American, that day changed me. And it's true, we must never forget.