Today, September 11, 2006, marks the 5th Anniversary of the World Trade Center disaster at the hands of terrorists.
That was a day from Hell for me. You see, I have a large Italian family in New York City, and a lot of them work or go to school in Manhattan.
I think you can see where this is leading.
I was at work and listening to the local radio talk show when I heard the report of a plane hitting one of the towers. The local host was unsure at the time if it was a small plane that crashed, or what the situation was. Then came the report of the second plane in the second tower.
Uh-oh - - this was not sounding good.
Reports started coming in about another plane smashing into the Pentagon. Then a 4th plane crashing in a field in Pennsylvania.
I was worried sick about my family. I called my Mom, who lived about 30 miles south of me, and she told me she had not been able to get through by phone to anyone out there. I told her we probably wouldn't be able to, because I'm sure the whole phone system was gridlocked.
Our office's Field Manager moved the television to the Break Room so we could watch the news coverage. I sat there, worrying and praying, watching the horror unfold.
When the first tower fell, I was stunned beyond belief. I got up and left the room; I could NOT watch any more.
Since we were a State office, the Governor closed all offices in the State. I went home and kept trying to reach someone out East. First my "land line", then my cell phone. I kept trying both of them periodically all day long, hoping one of my calls would eventually make it through. Mom kept trying also, and we kept in touch with each other during the day.
That evening I had a Psychology class out at the College. As I pulled into the parking lot and parked, I decided to try calling out East "one more time". My call went through! As I heard my Cousin Kitty's voice on the phone, I started crying. We were both crying and talking at the same time.
She told me Cousin Eloise, who worked in downtown Manhattan, had been on the Metro, and it had been stopped. She had to get off the train, and walk 2-3 miles through Manhattan, across the bridge back into Brooklyn, where people were using their cars to get them back to Crossbay Blvd. to catch buses and eventually get back home. She made it back home late that afternoon.
She told me Chris' children, who attend a school in Manhattan, were safe. One of their neighbors, a policeman, was able to obtain permission to pick the children up, and was able to get them out of Manhattan and back home to Queens.
Paul and Ginny were out on Long Island and were fine.
Rocky was working for the NYC Street Dept., but was not in the area, and he was fine.
Kitty was fine.
The only one I did not know about was Chris' husband, who was a police officer in Manhattan. With all the reports of the killed and missing police and firefighters, I was a wreck.
But - - it was almost time for class. I gave Mom a quick call to let her know what I had found out, and headed into the building.
Everyone in class was quiet; everyone seemd just - - "stunned" - - including our instructor, who was usually very vocal and upbeat. He spoke to us in a low tone of voice about the tragedy that day, and how he was reacting to it, as he was sure we were all going through it also. He then did something I appreciate to this day - - he said, "I am sure you do not feel like learning today any more than I feel like teaching. Go home." Bless you, Tim!
When I got home, I tried calling out East one more time. This time, Kitty had good news - - Chris' husband was okay!
Now that the last piece of the puzzle was in place, I could relax just a little. My family was okay. I called Mom, let her know the good news, and went to bed.
Not everyone was this lucky - - my Cousin Rocky's neighbor lost his brother on 9/11. He was in the Command Center when the tower fell on it. They never recovered him. May he Rest In Peace.