I’ll never forget where I was or what I was doing the morning of September 11, 2001. I wasn’t doing anything special. I was in my apartment, a foot or so away from the bed. I’d just finished my yoga stretches in time to watch a friend make a guest appearance on the “CBS Morning Show” to promote her PBS mini-series. Her segment was preempted by Bryant Gumbel’s (then co-host of the show) announcement that an aircraft had hit one of the World Trade Center towers. The size of the aircraft was not determined. I thought, “what a crazy accident.” When they reported it was a commercial passenger jet, for some reason I knew it was no accident.
If you’ve grown up in Washington, DC anytime during the Cold War, a switch goes on in your head fast when something out of the ordinary happens. By the time the second tower was hit, my cousin called her mother at the Pentagon (where she was working at the time) and told her to “get out of the building.” Her mother paused and said “Why, we’re [safe] in the Pentagon.” Moments later the Pentagon was evacuating.
I was fortunate to have lost no one I loved, attended school with, or shared a causal meal or cup of coffee. Friends from abroad and around the country emailed one another. My college accessed the emails to all alumni in DC and New York and requested a roll call. Email was the only way we could communicate with each other and family members. Phone lines were jammed. Cell phones were useless.
I happen to have saved some of the emails that came into my mailbox during the week of 9-11. I share them today as we remember the people who lost their lives in New York, Pennsylvania, and Arlington, VA; the families, friends, and lovers who were left behind to grieve; the rescue workers; the firefighters and police personnel; the restaurant workers; the recovery volunteers. And to those DC school children, their teacher, and the National Geographic education director on Flight 77.
September 11, 2001
I’m glad you’re alright.
Just wanted to let you all know I am safe in Harlem. No ONE wants to
bomb anything in Harlem.
Under the terrible circumstances, it was good you (we) scrapped the meeting.
Wednesday, September 12, 2001
Dear Heavenly Father,
We are moved by the alarming news and crisis that our country is
facing. This, the greatest nation, founded in the believe that “In God We
Trust” & the “Land of the Free”. Please have mercy on those suffering,
hurting and in fear, and give wisdom & strength to those who are assisting.
May the forces of evil be broken by your power and may we humble before
thee, our strength and refuge. Give wisdom to all our President & our
leaders and bring your comforting peace through the power of your Holy Spirit.
Help us here to reach to those that have been affected by this tragedy.
In the name of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. AMEN
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
I hope this message find you and your friends and families safe and well.
Please respond to this roll call to let us know that you are safe or need our help.
Great news! I’m happy that you are all alive….
My cousin who works at the U.N. is in a severe state of shock. I hope
that these people are the only ones who were close to us because I’m
still trembling as I write this.
Thanks for letting me know and lots of love
Friday, September 14, 2001
FYI… Fueron mis premociones poeticas 20 years ago….I wrote the entire
poem during the Missile Crisis. Un abrazo of solitarity in these very sad