Friday, September 12, 2008

Remembering September 11

Yesterday as I watched all of the memorials to the tragedies of September 11, 2001, I thought back to that horrific day. Like the day President John F. Kennedy was shot, I suspect most of us who were around for these events remember every detail of where we were when we heard the news, the emotions we felt and the endless hours spent glued to TV as these the stories unfolded.

On that date, I was only about 80 miles from the Pentagon with family living much closer. My editors and agent are all in Manhattan. Here, the skies were the crystal blue that seems to happen only in fall. Puffs of white clouds drifted along above the waters of the Potomac River. For me it was a rare day off from writing after meeting a deadline and I was on my porch enjoying the weather, the view and a good book.

Moments after the first tower of the World Trade Center was struck, my author friend Carla Neggers called from Vermont in tears. She told me what had happened, and like so many others who reached out that morning, she sounded stunned. "Turn on the TV," she said before going back to her own vigil.

I spent the rest of that day in a daze, reaching out to friends between televised reports, calling to make sure family members were okay, emailing to check on my publishing associates in New York. A dear friend, who was based in Berlin, Germany for the Associated Press, happened to be in Ohio. He called to ask if he could come here, thinking that the Washington area airports would reopen to international flights before others might. He was here by dawn the next morning.

For nearly a week he and I stayed glued to the TV. He was in constant contact with his office, frustrated by his inability to get back to work. Ironically, for all of the horror of those days, it was the last time I was able to spend with him before he died, so the memory of those days is bittersweet.

Watching the ceremonies yesterday, seeing high school students in Virginia putting out small American flags in memory of every person who died that day, listening to the survivors share their memories of the day, of loved ones, it's hard to imagine we will ever forget.

And we mustn't.

Sherryl Woods

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