Remembering 9/11

(This edited from a post first published on September 10, 2016)

(Doreen Stratton photo from Seward Johnson Center in Hamilton, NJ)

Everybody remembers where they were on September 11, 2001. Shortly after 8:30 on that morning I’m driving along the Doylestown Bypass for an appointment with my broker. While listening to the morning talk radio sports hosts joke about some athlete’s faux pas, suddenly one says, “Oh–we just got a bulletin that a plane crashed into one of the towers at the World Trade Center in New York City.”

I ask myself, How does a “… plane … crash” into a World Trade Center building?

I’m in the conference room, a television newscaster’s words drift from the next office, confirming that two jets crashed into each of the World Trade Towers. Then the broker returns to the conference room and announces, “They just hit the Pentagon.”

The third attack is aborted over the skies of Somerset County in western Pennsylvania. This time the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 after learning the tragedies in New York and Washington DC, overpower the hijackers and the jet crashes on an empty field.

For the next few weeks like many other Americans I sit in front of my television, mesmerized by the images on the screen. People begin gathering at sites near the destroyed Towers posting pictures and messages for their lost loved ones. There are faces upon faces of photos of people who were in those two buildings and are now missing or possibly dead. Media coverage of interviews with relatives, friends or coworkers describe the lives of the missing–where they lived, who they married, their families and where they worked inside the Towers.

The number of Twin Tower deaths eventually reaches 2,606 with an additional 343 firefighters, 37 Port Authority Police Officers, 23 Police Officers, and 2 Paramedics. All total, nearly 3,000 people died from the three airline hijackings; in the World Trade Towers; and inside the Pentagon. Since 9/11, a September 10, 2018 ABC News article reported deaths an additional 156 police officers and 182 firefighters.

The number of Bucks County residents killed on 9/11 are memorialized at The Garden of Remembrance, located at 1950 Woodside Road in Yardley where every September, a ceremony is held.

In September 2016 I posted a blog about 9/11 that featured two films connected to the World Trade Twin Towers:

  • Man on Wire. This 2008 documentary featured Phillippe Petit’s journey of his determination to become the only man that walked on a wire between the roofs of the two World Trade Towers.
  • The Walk. This 2015 docudrama with Joseph Gordon Levitt as Petit, retells the wire walker’s life when as a young street juggler in Paris he reads an article about construction of the two towers. From then he is determined to walk a wire from the roof of one building to the other. His dream came to fruition on August 7, 1974.

The history of the two Towers reaches back decades. The first tenants moved into the North Tower during December 1970. In September 1971, tenants began moving into the South Tower. A character in The Walk offhandedly described the towers as “two filing cabinets”; but after Petit’s unbelievable feat two of his friends tell him, “You have given The Towers Soul!” Another adds, “They’re different now, because you walked up there.”

There’ve been many films on our small and large screens with images of the Towers, either with the sun bouncing off the gleaming walls or lights peeking out from the night sky. Whenever the Towers briefly appear in films, the words spoken by the characters in The Walk are absolute:  They are truly “different”.

Just last week I caught a glimpse of the Towers on my television screen. And once more, it was like rediscovering two long-lost souls of September 11.

Always remembered.

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