A personal reflection on what was—and what could have been
Thank you for sharing this memory and those of your daughter. Tomorrow I will be taking the time to explain 9-11 and its aftermath to my 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Grade History classes tomorrow. The oldest is 17 years old, the youngest, 14. Thank you for this and your Saturday article which I did not have the time to comment, but did read.
Twenty-two years past 9/11/01 and nothing sticks with me more from that day than this poem I found soon after. I am not extremely religious but this grabs my heart and I share annually.
Meet Me in the Stairwell author unknown
You say you will never forget where you were when
you heard the news On September 11, 2001.
Neither will I.
I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room
with a man who called his wife to say ‘Good-Bye.’ I
held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the
peace to say, ‘Honey, I am not going to make it, but it
is OK..I am ready to go.’
I was with his wife when he called as she fed
breakfast to their children. I held her up as she
tried to understand his words and as she realized
he wasn’t coming home that night.
I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a
woman cried out to Me for help. ‘I have been
knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!’ I said.
‘Of course I will show you the way home – only
believe in Me now.’
I was at the base of the building with the Priest
ministering to the injured and devastated souls.
I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He
heard my voice and answered.
I was on all four of those planes, in every seat,
with every prayer. I was with the crew as they
were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the
believers there, comforting and assuring them that their
faith has saved them.
I was in Texas , Virginia , California , Michigan , Afghanistan .
I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news.
Did you sense Me?
I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew
every name – though not all know Me. Some met Me
for the first time on the 86th floor.
Some sought Me with their last breath.
Some couldn’t hear Me calling to them through the
smoke and flames; ‘Come to Me… this way… take
my hand.’ Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me.
But, I was there.
I did not place you in the Tower that day. You
may not know why, but I do. However, if you were
there in that explosive moment in time, would you have
reached for Me?
Sept. 11, 2001, was not the end of the journey
for you. But someday your journey will end. And I
will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may
be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are
‘ready to go.’
I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.
JFK's assassination, the attack on the World Trade Center, and January 6th are so etched into memory, it seems impossible to forget. They are permanently branded on our collective memory. Bless our beloved country.
Nice piece. Sadly the 9/11 Museum closed due to lack of public funding: https://yuribezmenov.substack.com/p/granite-mountain-hotshot-nyc-911-firefighters
Very well done.
I ordered a pictorial diary of the horrific events of that day that I shall pass on to grandchildren, so they can see what hatred can do in a small group of indoctrinated people, who were taught that America was the great Satan! It was never about all Muslim People.
Cults are not only misinformed, they are made more dangerous by a constant barrage of lies and misinformation! People need to remember that.
Thank you for this. What a long strange trip we’re on.
Thank you for sharing your posts about this terribly tragic event, and it’s aftermath, Stephen. It’s one of those events, like the Holocaust, that just don’t seem real in their absolute horror. I don’t think we ever really recover from events of this horrific magnitude.
On that day, 22 years ago, I was attending a meeting of school Technology Directors in Athens, Ohio. I was one of the few privileged members of our school district to have an early cell phone. It rang, in the middle of the meeting, and because the reception was so bad in the building, I immediately hustled to the parking lot to answer it. I was initially thrilled to hear our attorney son’s voice on the other end of the line, but then his sober tone scared me. Our son resides in Baltimore, MD, so, to hear from him on the morning of a work day, was uplifting, but his tone was serious.
“Dad, have you heard what has happened?”
“No, Mike, what?”
“A jet plane has crashed into the World Trade Center.”
Stunned I did not know what to say, at first thinking it was a terrible, unintended accident.
As we continued our conversation, we shared our love and concern for one another, and I went back into the meeting, at its conclusion.
This was still the early days of technology use in school settings in Ohio. The center, where the meeting was being held had an LCD Projector and the scene being projected of the two smoking towers, by then, was one of the many etched in our collective psyches. It wasn’t until later that day, on the 40 mile ride home, through the Appalachian foothills of Southeastern Ohio that the voices on the radio informed me of the whole horrible impact and suffering unfolding.
The thought of the last moments of almost 3,000 people’s lives and the terrible suffering is what is too much to bear.
About five years prior to 9/11, My wife Janie and our son (22), daughter (10), (at the time) visited NYC, and went to the top of the first tower that was hit. As we pulled in the tower parking area at, ground level, our son said, “Wasn’t this bombed by terrorists recently?” We had heard that it had been, but decided to proceed anyway to the top. We asked another tourist to take our photograph on the roof of the tower with the mast. It was so eerie being that far above Manhattan. If I remember right there was barbed wire around the railing. That was very sobering to see that. We really couldn’t wait to get back to ground level. And I remember thinking of one of the Wallendas tight rope walking between towers, on a previous occasion. I look at that photo today, of my beloved family, and with all that has happened since, and it fills me with deep sadness and fear of all that has transpired since.
It leaves me with great wonder and awe at the many brave souls that risked their lives and so many died in the face of incomprehensible death and destruction.
Where does one find the courage to take on the terrorists flying the jet to DC and cause it to crash in a field in Pennsylvania?
These are all thoughts that flood my mind every 9/11.
As I was getting ready to teach my classes today, I thought about that horrible day 22 years ago - my Dad called my office from Ohio to break the news - I watched in utter disbelief at the events as they unfolded - I actually tried to teach a noontime calculus class - I just couldn't do it. And I thought of my students today, most of whom hadn't even been born on 9/11. All they know about it is what they see on TV and social media. Including all of the half-cocked 9/11 conspiracy theories that some Presidential candidates say should be investigated.
Post-script: My Dad, who had called me at my office on 9/11, passed away May 1, 2003 - the day George W. declared "mission accomplished".
Thank you Steve for this deeply felt piece. I wonder if it is not nearly harder for the ones like your daughter, apart from all the families who lost someone on that day or on subsequent weeks.
My daughter was at NYU in her dorm when she heard the first plane. She had transferred from Reed college and had just arrived in NY. She went that day down there to give blood.
I was watching tv from our home in LA. My husband was in france watching news too. He is an engineer and was involved with developing hotels and saw many buildings imploding safely on themselves to give place to new constructions. When he watched the news he said he could hear the different little implosions as the towers were going down. We are not conspiracy theorists but many questions will forever stay unanswered. A dark day, and I was so,proud of my daughter then.
In the end, all these wars, all this chaotic political life we experiment, all this is wrong, but I am sure in the end courage and compassion stick to us, and life gets better.
Bless the heart of all those who perished then.
Thank you for sharing. One of my nephews was born a few years later on September 11. We always try to focus on the joy of having him in our lives so he doesn’t have any stigma.
On a personal level, I always remember waking early for work in California and being shocked to see the second plane.
Steven, the vision from 9/11 that sticks in my brain is of the North Tower coming symmetrically straight down way too fast. I knew at that moment--even though it made no sense that I wanted to acknowledge --that the tower was being destroyed by controlled demolition.
The people who've been incarcerated and tortured at Guantanamo, the hundreds of thousands killed in wars of retribution, and the millions left without homes or civil infrastructure were all for naught. The people who planned and carried this monstrous act out are resting comfortably in retirement in Texas and Wyoming.
It was an incredibly difficult thing to have witnessed, but your basic premise is right. We must remember what happened that day in the hope that sooner or later we will find the courage as a nation to call 9/11 what it was, a false flag event.
I watched the twin towers as they were being built. At the time, I had no idea what the construction was but as it got larger, and larger I knew it was something I would see forever. I lived in NJ, atop the Palisades, above Weehawken and Hoboken at the time. The Twin Towers became the background of many pictures I'd taken, both in NYC and at Liberty State Park, in Jersey City, NJ. So many pictures have the WTC towers in the background, and it was just something that happened because, they were always supposed to be there. In November of 2001, I came up from Virginia to see family and went to Liberty State Park which wasn't fully open, but it didn't seem right. The skyline was wrong. I was born in the late 40s, so I knew what the skyline looked like before the 1970s, but it was wrong. It shouldn't have looked like it did. Those buildings should be there. Those people should still be here. Other people shouldn't have died, later, from having to work in the rubble of the buildings. The day it happened was surreal. Watching the towers, I'd seen being built, tumble to the ground in real time, and then over and over again on the news. No jets were flying over Virginia Beach, VA, sound many complained about, but we called it "The Sound of Freedom". It was really eerie. The real sound of silence if you were sitting at home, alone. I know, my personal connection is small, compared to those who have lost loved ones, both on that day and afterward. Those of us who were alive will have our own stories of those days in history when people will ask, where were you, what were you doing on that day........as an anniversary of an historical moment approaches. I never thought, as I watched a construction site, from across the Hudson River, that the buildings would not last as long as the Empire State Building, The Chrysler Building, or the other landmarks we knew of back then. Just as I never thought I would see, in real time, an attack on our Nation's Capital.
I totally understand and share your South African friends facial composure, barely restrained skepticism and response of “really.”
Flight 93 was intended for the Capitol or Whitehouse. Not the Pentagon. Of course, there will always remain a certain degree of uncertainty because it crashed in Pennsylvania.
Bin Laden. The first year, first year only, of military operations in Afghanistan really broke his organization(s) back. It’s why he was reduced to hiding in Pakistan - though it’s argued he was in plain sight. His kill none the less, held important strategic symbology.
Not quite sure why you declare separation, as there is little distinction to go along with it, even in bold print, “this was before”. It is confusingly opaque to say that, about what was premeditated, synchronized and simultaneous. GWOT was a book already written, a train station already built. 9-11 only served as the reader or the train arrival. Kin to premeditated murder, vs self defense. I don’t want readers walking away thinking 9-11 caused Cheney and Bush to be vague in their response and intent. That’s con-fuddle-ing result with intent. GWOT intent went exactly as these neocons planned it would, damn the cost!
Until we as a nation acknowledge that 9-11 primarily and largely (first and foremost, even ahead of the tragic loss of life) was the neocon bat-signal for the formal introduction of the unitary executive, and the final exam administered in strategic narcissism, we will remain a lost nation. That bat signal is the only reason invading Iraq was born.
I think you “get it”, and are capturing it.
I just want to sharpen that clarity.
#leadership #humanity #slowtravel #militarytransition