There’s been an incident at the World Trade Center
Restless, unable to sleep. Uneasy.
Watching video tapes of opera, and favorite singers, my soap operas real and in real life, emails and …. no sleep.
Studying scores of music, art songs, new melodies. Still could not calm myself.
Finally a beautiful morning dawned,literally flooding my living room with direct, sunlight from over 9 windows.
Might as well try to lay down- silly, staying up all night. Bleary eyed, exhausted off I go to sleep, at 8:15 in the morning, Sept. 11th, 2011.
My phone rings, I am between two worlds, and I hear my dear friend Claudia’s voice urging me to pick up. Her voice sounds scared. Mumbling something to stall while I tried to get my eyes open, the sound of her voice stopped me dead.
” You have to go out on your terrace, you have to see what happened. Two planes just hit the WTC and there are people trapped. This is awful….!”
You wake up quick with that kind of news, stumbling out into what would be a crisp New York morning, a gorgeous day with sun shining and a cool breeze. Bringing into focus my Navy watch binoculars of my Lt. Commander Step-fathers just in time to acknowledge an almost movie like scene in front of me. The World Trade Center looked like two strangely off chimney stacks billowing smoke and with huge gaping wounds of fire and broken glass and exposed building… Why? Then incomes reports of rogue planes, planes crashing into the Pentagon and into a field in Pennsylvania, most likely heading for the Capitol. We aren’t in Kansas anymore. Terrorism has arrived on American soil.
Still….it didn’t seem real or possible.
I would be witness to a sobering fact that people, innocent people, were murdered in front of me…extinguished in the burning buildings in front of my very eyes, on the hijacked planes which must have tortured those inside. Some were calling their loved ones and they all KNEW they weren’t likely going to make it out alive, and ultimately they would perish used as part of a living missile directly aimed to fly into the buildings at an angle to inflict THE MOST casualties and more THE MOST damage. This would eventually include same scenario flights crashing into the military main command headquarters of the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, near where my Dad is resting in eternal sleep, people on cell phones were alerted to the hijackings and the kamakazi plunges and they stormed the cockpit refusing to go down without a fight .
Honestly I do not remember what I witnessed live as opposed to what I was watching on TV as I went back and forth outside to see what I could.
The air already smelled of burning electrical wires, steel melting like in a welding pit, and it made you choke on soot and very fine particles.
Calling my Mom, who had moved in March to be with us again from the West Coast, she was not in great health. I wanted to unfold this as gingerly as possible.
“MOM, have you had the television on at all?” “NO, not yet…..should I?”
“Well, not sure what to say, really. It looks like there was an incident over at the World Trade Center….. we may have something a little sinister going on.”
“You know, in the past someone flew, by mistake, a plane into the Empire State Building…..is this like that perhaps…?”
I said, ” Not to be alarmed, but ……”
“I have been through WW2 nothing surprises. Stay down, do not worry on me, I am fine. This is a great country and we will do what needs to be done. Can we help in some way?”
God bless her.
Obviously everyone wanted to help, and that would be evident later in heartwarming and heartbreaking detail.
Outside, in the sky, very shortly after the Pennsylvania crash, NOTHING was in the air.
Voids of blue and clouds and absolute silence…..over New York City.
No noise. Just the plumes of smoke and stories of those inside and trying to get out.
Then the first tower goes down, and the comments stop on television and even newscasters used to violence and twists of fate, they fall quiet.
The Towers, one by one, melting like a failed souffle’, implode themselves and leave nothing but thick white and grey smoke.
As the first one fell, I shook. They aren’t supposed to fall. They are built to withstand a plane strike. You feel like you are watching someone get bullied or beaten and you can do nothing.
My little Fire station here, Rescue One, sirens blazing…..all those good guys I knew. Mr. “Handsome Handlebars” I nicknamed one terrific gentleman always so quiet with blue,blue eyes and the perfect handlebar mustache. He is there in this? All those great guys I knew were there, and many I would not know, were with them as they all headed out to help and evacuate, put out fires, and save the day.
Over 300 hundred men doing good and trying to help those in need lost their lives along with almost 3,000 people from the street, the planes and the two Towers themselves. Gone.
My eyes filled with tears…. There is nothing to say, no words come. I respond in my heart with music. I thought, if I were in that building hoping to live, knowing I might not make make it, I would want music, someone witnessing me die, have a song for me. Music is a bridge to another world for me. Always has been.
I hum first, and then I sang softly something to help guide these souls across. “Nearer my God to Thee.”
They didn’t leave without a word said over them, a prayer, a hymn.
Everyone was a team in this city…. blankets and gloves and masks, water, food, everyone raced to help get people help.
New York was united and actually angry. Telethons and money poured in from all over he world….hearts were raised. A Nation stood together.
Finding the dead and giving them honor and praise. This was a Father Mychal Judd, a constant guide and help with and for the Fire Department. This immortal shot looks like a painting.
I was 38 floors up, and could see the tiny little police boats monitoring the harbors,piers for the cruise ships, all the waterways; they were speed-boats and would bob up and down in the water along each side patrolling, with their signature blue lights on the back….made me feel better someone was watching over us.
No planes in the sky looked strange during the day. It became ominous at night. Friends checking in from all over the world. “All right” was the word used, but it wasn’t really the picture. Defiant, proud of NY, angry at stupid fanatic people who look on life as nothing. True faith? You do not kill. In every faith we have these extremes. Senseless interpretations that justify this type of carnage.
Thoughts of brave people. Doing what made them special. Caring and protecting. and dying for it. Some would not make it out, would not be found.
My cyber buddy whose family lost their son in the collapse accepted that I sing for her and her distinguished family. Amazingly as the stories of his life were recounted people laughed and cheered and cried. What emerged was the “living” picture of a handsome, terrific young man who would live well and courageously and die doing good for others. He rushed up those stairs with no thought of himself- except to help….God bless you Michael Mullan, and his family.
Here we are ten years later.
My beloved Momma is now with all those heroes and good people on the other side, watching over us. Life and this country picked up, slowly but deliberately. We beat them, sort of, by staying open and living our lives, traveling and being alert. We must now, like Europe for years before us, be ever vigilant to this unique act of cowardice. It is the new way to inflict pain, and bully and annoy.
This Sunday, be of solemn remembrance. I shall never forget the feeling of being here in my beloved city of New York. The pride. The fight and guts of so many. Bette Midler’s singing at the gathering for all those who had lost someone, and she sang from her wide open heart, ” THANK you, THANK you, THANK you….you are the wind beneath my wings” pointing to all the heroes and grieving and shocked families and fellow New Yorkers. Liza Minnelli too, singing New York, New York at Shea Stadium in the first game held back after ten days…. we needed her and she delivered knocking it out of the ball park…. and finally,
To all I saw leave, the sons and daughters and fathers and mothers, wives and husbands, that crossed as I watched. I REMEMBER.
To all who would go to War, to protect us, to exact some measure of Justice, and then stay committed during the long and difficult campaigns which have lost another 5,000 lives and more in civilian casualties, some coming home, some not. I SALUTE and THANK you.
And to all my fellow New Yorkers, There is NO ONE who can KEEP us down for long. We fight and we are loyal and we don’t quit.
For my country today…… I am proud, and hopeful and ever grateful for the freedoms and blessings we receive here in this country.
Mr. Obama, please keep extending a hand in Peace. You were right in telling those that fight us, ” you cannot grasp that hand if yours is clenched in a fist.”
May God guide all those with fury to calm, anger to enlightenment, discord with harmony. May He make us hungry for knowledge and less thirsty for power. Keep all out loved ones and the family of Man and Womankind safe here on Earth.
Watch over all your children from everywhere without exception. In my world you come to God as you know him, and call Him as you wish. I have respect and admiration for all. I choose to close this with a manifestation of Heaven as I see it, but I want everyone to feel included.
In God I trust…..