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(The song you are listening to is "Dreams".
To turn off the music, right-click on the arrow and click "stop".)


September 11, 2001 started out as just another Tuesday that I had to stumble out of my warm bed at the ridiculous (to me) hour of 5:45 and begin a daily 1 hour and 40 minute ferry/bus commute into the offices of a major bank in downtown Seattle, where I was in my third and last month at a temp job filling in for a secretary on maternity leave. It also marked exactly four months that I had been looking for a "perm" job, which was my longest job search in recent memory. (Little did I know that one year later, I would still not be settled into a new admin job and would instead be considering a transition into real estate - and it would be another few years after that before I finally settled into a steady job. But I digress....) I was feeling more than a little sorry for myself, since my birthday was five days before and no one from my temp job knew. I'd had a lousy birthday aside from no one knowing: I learned a job I'd prayed I would be offered would not happen, and I got sick with a migraine that afternoon. But unbeknownst to me, thousands of people were about to have a much worse day than I could have ever imagined.

On Tuesday the 11th, as usual, I drove to the park n'ride for the one-mile shuttle to the ferry terminal. I overheard someone on the shuttle van say, "Did you hear? A plane crashed into the World Trade Center!" I am not a morning person, and though I turn the news on while rushing to leave on time for my commute, I usually am not awake enough yet to hear what is being reported. It is more for the purpose of glancing at the clock the local station has in the corner of the screen. So it didn't sink in right away that this happened at a time when there were already thousands of people working in the building. I turned on my Walkman and the dj's were talking exclusively about the chaos that was going on in New York, even on the music stations. Then it was announced that a second plane had crashed into the other World Trade Center tower, and that this was surely not an accident but a deliberate act, and that people were scrambling to get out, even jumping out of the building, hundreds of rescue workers were on their way, etc. Only then did I start to realize the seriousness of what was happening. I thought, "I'll have to watch the news reports when I get home this evening". I hadn't even heard about another plane crashing into the Pentagon and yet another crashing in Pa. And it certainly didn't occur to me that these huge buildings could collapse in a matter of seconds, like two precarious stacks of dominoes. Till that day, I had really never even thought about the World Trade Center. I had a vague realization that the Twin Towers were the tallest buildings in the U.S., but they always looked plain and boxy to me, compared to the Art Deco stylings of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. (I have since examined pictures of the Twin Towers and realize they were beautiful in their simplicity and sheer functionality.)

I took the elevator to the 11th floor where I was temping, and the manager was waiting by the door. She said that there had now apparently been four terrorist acts committed in the country and no one knew if any more were planned. The bank was in a 40+ story tower a block from the Federal Building and the management had decided to not take any chances and were sending everyone right back home. I thought, "Wow, this IS something major", and I went back down the elevator and took the bus back to the ferry. When I got to the ferry terminal, I learned the ferries would be shut down after the next run, for the rest of the day. By that time, I heard about the Pentagon and the fourth plane that crashed in Pa., which it was later discovered was probably targeted to hit the White House. Before I got home, both towers had collapsed. I drove home and watched the televised coverage for the rest of the day (and for several days after that), in disbelief and starting to wonder if the whole world had gone crazy. Like everyone else, I prayed that people would be found alive in the massive wreckage of what were two proud 100+ story towers just a few hours before. But as we all know, that didn't happen. It was learned some time after the attacks that "only" just over 2,800 people died, not the 10,000+ that was first estimated. There were many miraculous stories of escape and heroism. But this is little consolation to the thousands of people who did lose loved ones.

Of course, a person doesn't have to live in New York, Washington D.C. or Pennsylvania, to work at one of the affected companies, or know any of the victims to have been deeply affected by what happened. Speaking for myself, as one who worked as an administrative assistant for financial corporations in tall office buildings in Chicago and Seattle for many years, I have thought so very many times of all the other admin assistants who worked in those towers for similar companies, and how if I had lived in New York, that could have easily been me. I thought about the bosses and coworkers I have had over the years who had such similar backgrounds to others who were lost that day. It was just another Tuesday, a beautiful late summer day in New York, and like me, they reluctantly got out of their warm beds and went to their offices. The difference was, I was sent back home where I watched all the horror on tv, and they never got to go back home. As we all know, the people above the point of impact of the first tower struck never even had a chance to escape. I shudder to realize that everyone who came to work that day at companies such as Cantor Fitzgerald, a major stock brokerage, died - that one company lost about 700 people. I often wonder what those final minutes for those folks in that office must have been like. I heard about a Cantor broker named Al Braca, who his coworkers teasingly called "Rev", leading several to faith in Christ just before the tower collapsed, and I wonder if I could have done the same with the end staring me straight in the face. Likewise, at four airports, hundreds of other innocent people - on business trips, vacations, returning to their homes, just leading their everyday lives - boarded four airplanes that, at the hands of madmen, became instruments of death for themselves and over 2,800 others. As we later learned, the brave passengers on the last of those planes took action to prevent it from heading for the White House, sacrificing their lives in the process. 2,801 people left behind wives, husbands, children, brothers, sisters, close friends - and people like me who have read all their profiles on the New York Times web site and still grieve even though we never met. Reading the profiles of all the victims, to me, was my very small way of paying tribute to these innocent people. So is this page.

It hadn't occurred to me till this weekend, as the first anniversary of this atrocity approaches, to create a Sept. 11 page. What could I say that hasn't already been said? But if this page can, in any small way, bring any comfort or hope to others, I am thankful. I admit I also created it as a reminder to myself, to put things into perspective after having what I still often feel was a bad year for me personally. I tried in vain for three more years after 9/11/01 to obtain an administrative job. I lost a three-month temp job in January '02 with almost no warning and then three days later, my dog Gus, who I loved very much, suddenly died. For the next 2-1/2 years, things felt very unsettled and uncertain in general, financially and vocationally. But during that long period, at least I usually had a temp job to go to, and more importantly, I've had my husband. And like millions of other people in this country, I have a new sense of pride in what it means to be an American. The way the country came together and the widespread patriotism that surfaced afterwards was truly inspiring. Even web rings such as the two shown below would never have been conceived before 9-11. It has also been nice to see the newfound nationwide respect for New York City and the people who live there, and to see the compassion, grace and strength of character demonstrated by formerly maligned Mayor Giuliani, and President George W. Bush, during this unprecedented crisis. In addition, as a Christian, though it is true that God did allow this catastrophe to happen, I have to believe that ultimate good will prevail. That is why I selected the background and graphics with the theme, "Out of the Darkness". As expressed in Francine Pucillo's poem below, we must choose to believe that out of the darkness of this unimaginable act will come life, hope and beauty arising from the ashes.

Out of the darkness
You'll see who you are
The remnants of beauty
They're not very far

See what you need now
To give you your strength
Beauty in sorrow
Let hearts now lament

Once you see glory
Then you will know
Weeds that were flowers
Once again grow

Hold on to truth
Let it be there
See all God's wisdom
In most fervent prayer

Life is redeeming
That's how it should be
Gathered from ashes
The glory we see

Fragrance upon you
With love that you found
Subtle sweet softness
In life be your crown.

~ Francine Pucillo ~
Šused with permission

I joined the web ring shown below and suggest that one way you can commemorate September 11 and honor its victims and survivors would be to visit other tribute pages in this ring. Also give some thought to how the former World Trade Center site should be utilized. My feeling is, there should definitely be a large memorial plaza, probably some office space to replace some of what was lost, but not taller than 30 stories. Lastly but certainly not least, do visit the beautifully done "Portraits of Grief" online profiles at the New York Times site and pray each day for the families of the victims you read about. I can't even imagine - don't want to imagine - how devastating this experience must have been for these families. Thank you for reading my thoughts and reflections of a day none of us will ever forget. God bless each of us and God bless America!


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