On September 11th, 2001, I was seven months pregnant with my son Brendan. I remember walking my two older sons to school that day, looking up at the sky and thinking it was one of the most beautiful late summer mornings I had ever seen. The sky was a brilliant shade of blue and there was not a cloud to be seen. I walked back up the path and into the house and turned on the television to see what was going on in the world while I ate some breakfast. My local news channel was showing a video of a plane crashing into one of the Twin Towers. This was the first glimpse I got of what would turn out to be one of the saddest days in American history. I called my neighbor whose husband was a police officer in the city to see if she knew anything about what was going on. As I sat on the stairs leading up to the second floor, staring at the television and talking on the phone I watched as another plane slammed into another tower. At first I thought it was just another video of the first plane until I heard the news reporters and my friend screaming that it was another plane.
In all honesty, it didn't even occur to me at first that there were people in the building and emergency services workers there as well. I think I was just trying to wrap my brain around what I had just seen. Something that was taking place just 20 miles from where I live.
The photo above is a very special one to so many people. The man on the left is my uncle Harry. He was attending a funeral that day and wasn't there when the towers fell but when he found out what had happened he drove there immediately and was down "on the pile" looking for survivors for weeks. My uncle was a member of FDNY for more than 35 years. One of the people he was looking for was the young man on the right. His name was Welles Crowther. You may have heard of him as "The Man in the Red Bandanna." If you haven't, you can read about him here . He is a true hero in every sense of the word and I was blessed to have known him from the time he was a young boy. If you look at the background of the photo, you can see the Twin Towers. Welles worked in Tower 2 and was also a volunteer firefighter in our home town. Helping people was in his blood. My uncle was very close with Welles' parents and would stop by their house on his way home from Ground Zero and give them an update at the end of every shift. Welles' body was eventually found in the lobby of Tower 2 with many other members of FDNY where they had set up a central command station. My uncle Harry passed five years ago due to 9/11 related health complications. His lungs were ruined by all of the dust and everything else that they were breathing in all of those months. He is just one of many people who have succumbed to 9/11 related diseases.
|Plaques dedicated to my uncle Harry and Welles outside of the fire house in Upper Nyack, NY where they both volunteered.|
|The Freedom Tower while it was still being built.|
A couple of years ago we visited the 9/11 Memorial and the Freedom Tower while it was still under construction. From the time you step off of the subway and walk up the stairs to its location you can sense that it is a sacred place. The air seems different, the sky seems different and people seem different. Everyone that visits there has there own personal reason for taking the journey there and whether or not you knew someone that died that day doesn't matter. It will still touch you to your soul.
|I was pregnant with this guy on 9/11/01. : )|
It has been 16 years and the sadness still sits right up at the surface on this day and so many other days. When I see Welles' parents and sisters and my aunt and cousins I still could cry a river for them all. When I see family members reading off the names of the victims on the television every September 11th I want to give them each a hug. Name upon name. Face upon face. All of them, innocent victims of a senseless tragedy.
This year I chose not to watch the reading of the names but instead made a conscious effort to commit as many "random acts of kindness" as I could. I believe that kindness is contagious and motivates people to be a bit kinder to the next person and the world certainly could use as much kindness as we can conjure up.
Lest we forget.
Many blessings ~ Wendy xo