Remembering September 11th . . .

* I originally posted this on September 11th, 2015.  I've only changed a few things to update it.  xo

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


sage and spirit said...

Hugs to you, Wendy, for your random acts of kindness today. The world needs more people like you.

Beatrice Euphemie said...

Such a tragedy, Wendy. These two men you knew and loved were true heroes. It is men like these that transcend the evil in this world and give us all hope that the world is truly filled with good and honorable people. I love that you are passing it forward, too. I think we all have this day etched in our memories. It changed us in so many ways, as a nation. Sending prayers to you and all the families who lost their loved ones on that terrible day - Angels all. xo Karen

mamasmercantile said...

Sending you a hug, a day that the World will never forget.

Judy said...

I have not seen New York City, but did visit the memorial in Shanksville, PA. When I think of how those passengers gave their lives to keep that last plane from making it back to D.C, it always makes me cry.

Shel said...

What a beautiful post, Wendy! I was telling my girls about how gorgeous that day started out and how I haven't seen the sky that shade of blue ever since.

From the gorgeous start to the day, to the sheer terror we all felt watching the news, to the errily empty Mass Pike as I drove home to Belmont (just outside of Boston) that day. I cannot even begin to imagine what it was like for those that were there or those that lived closer by.

My brother-in-law (whi wasn't yet my brother-in-law at that point) was on on the 99th floor of one of the towers. We have no idea how he made it out but he did. One of his sisters was at the Pentagon that day. She thankfully surivived as well. He never speaks of September 11th though has many health issues as a result, and for his mother this day remains a very hard one. She easily could have lost two of her three children that day.

A couple of years ago, Dave and I were in NYC for a friends wedding and while we were there we stopped by Ground Zero. A very somber place indeed (and it so bothered my by how many smiling selfies were taken there) and an incredible tribute to the lives lost and forever changed by that horrific day. We did not go into the museum but will do so next time.


Thank you for sharing your story and for the beautiful tribute to these incredible men. xo

Wendy Manson said...

Hi Wendy, My name is Wendy too and I live in NZ. Well I read this with tears streaming down my face and I am so moved by your tribute and the lives of the beautiful, heroic men above that I just had to say - thank you and bless you. May they fly free with the angels knowing their legacy will never be forgotten, that even today they inspire others. Much love, Wendy