Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Experiencing 9/11 in both DC and NYC
So, my sister usually flies to Montclair, NJ (via LaGuardia) for my birthday on September 29 every year and in 2001, for reasons I still don't understand, I suggested since she could get a plane to Washington and I could get a train, why didn't we meet there and tour D.C.? We took 3 days off the week of 9/10 and not being rich, decided to only stay in the L'Infant Plaza Hotel for 3 days, 9/8, 9/9, and 9/10...leaving the morning of September 11, 2001. We had a terrific time and the morning of 9/11, went downstairs where there was an actual mall of restaurants, as we walked toward the restaurants, I had to grab the wall, nearly passing out. You see, I get ESP vibes when planes are crashing. It must be the passengers' terror and I got hit with a big one and my sister saw it. When we got upstairs to pack, I turned on the television and there was the first World Trade Center tower burning. My sister couldn't stand it and went out on the balcony, which faced the Potomac. I saw a white airplane in the sky flying low when I watched her walk out. When the second tower was hit. I yelled "A television news helicopter must have hit the other one! My God!" She yelled from the balcony...."Sue? Is this natural?" I came outside and saw a tower of black smoke. "It's terrorism." I replied, getting it right. The hotel management made us come downstairs and stand outside because there was another flight, Flight 93, still in the air while everything else was frozen. I was one of the people on the ground they died to save. Thank you, guys. We couldn't leave the hotel and no trains or planes were flying. The next morning the trains were back on and I abandoned by poor sister, whose daughter-in-law had gone into labor due to the stress, and found my way to Union Station. I was in the newspaper business. I had to get back to New York City. My brother-in-law drove in from Parkersburg, W. Va. and met my sister at the end of the METRO line in Virginia. That is one tough Grandma. Since there was no way out of New York, I had to leave the train in Newark, taking a bus ride through some horrible slums that we force our citizens to live in. We were all Americans on that bus, black and white. I was exhausted and asked my temp to stay at work one more day, filling in. Friday, after seeing it all over and over on the news, I got the courage to get on the bus to NYC. As we came around the Helix into the Lincoln Tunnel, I saw the smoking pile of debris under the gaping hole that had been WTC. When I got off the bus and walked onto Eighth Avenue, I saw every wall covered with missing posters of all shapes and sizes. The air smelled of burnt building and death and would actually hurt my lungs by the end of the week for the next 4 weeks. Ambulances and police cars raced madly among the stunned crowds. At work, the stories began of everyone's adventure, but I had to get hundreds of editorial cartoons out to 2300 newspaper subscribers. I had to! I was in the news business and I was 40 blocks away from the burning pile. I had seen the Pentagon burn and been saved by the martyrs of Flight 93. Both cities. Both tragedies. Would we had paid attention earlier and prevented them both.