On September 11, 2001 I was living near San Jose, CA and up at 5:30 AM to get ready for a 7:00 AM Toastmasters meeting. When Matt Lauer said they had “reports a plane hit the World Trade Center” I called my father at work. We both agreed it must be a small plane and someone was protesting the stock market.
In the next hour we realized this was clearly not the case.
I got ready and went to the meeting at a local restaurant. When I walked in the news coverage was being broadcast over the sound system. There were screens set up and everyone was staring at them in silence. As I sat down the South Tower fell. The loss of life just didn’t compute at that moment.
After an hour or so I got in the car and tired to call my parents. At home. At work. All the cell phone lines were tied up. Finally I got a hold of my grandma. “Are you worried these people are coming to California?” my grandma said, “Don’t worry, they’re not.” In a day of complete chaos, my grandma managed to make me feel better.
Then I drove into the office. At the time I worked for the magazine Electronic Business which was owned by a larger publishing company called Cahner’s (now Reed Business Information). We followed the news and by Noon we were sent home. I was exhausted and fell asleep for several hours.
Around 5:30 PM I realized I forgot my phone at the office. For work, I’d taken a few flights from California to Boston and there were three phone calls from friends calling to see if I was on one of the planes. Sadly, my friends were not far off in their line of thinking.
The next day at work we found out two men in our company, Andrew Curry Green and Jeff Mladenik, died on American Airlines Flight 11 which was traveling from Boston to LA. I did not know these men. I may have been on a conference call or two with them, but our office in California was small and I interacted with very few people in Boston. It was terrible, shocking and almost unbelievable news.
Both their wives sent out heart wrenching emails talking about Andrew and Jeff, the men they were and their final days. Our company set up funds for each family. I donated as did my family and friends.
As I followed the news insistently for the next few months I tried to figure out why it at all happened. I’m not sure I ever really did.
On the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 I can’t help but reflect on the changes in my life since then.
I’ve moved away from California, back to Michigan and now to Charleston, South Carolina. I met my husband, was engaged and got married. I worked for a company I loved, had to leave it and started my own company.
My grandmother is no longer with us. My two-year-old daughter is named after her. I sure wish the two of them could meet.
As I’m watching the coverage I think of the 9/11 heroes and the lives they have missed in the past ten years. I cry. Then I cry some more.
By listening to the stories I feel like I’m honoring the heroes in some small way. I can’t do anything to change what happen to the thousands of people affected, but I hope they know there are millions of people who think of them every year – and not just on the anniversary date. I hope that means something to them. Their sacrifice means a great deal to me.