When New York Had Her Heart Broke

I was planning a flight to a conference

When my daughter was in middle school five years ago, she had a homework assignment to interview an adult about 9/11 and she got to transcribe the answers. I was the interviewee. 

1. Where were you when the attacks occurred?

In my offices in downtown Albany. [I was planning a flight to a conference in Dallas scheduled to start the next day. It was quickly canceled. One of the planes that crashed into one of the towers was in Albany air space]

2. How did you find out about the attacks?

Somebody in another office across the hallwas watching it on TV.

3. What were your first feelings/emotions when you heard about the attacks?

Well, when the first plane crashed into the building, I thought it was an accident. When the second plane hit, I knew it was a siege.

4. Did you know anyone in the Towers, Pentagon, or one of the planes? If yes, did they survive?

I knew one guy. Met him at a conference two or three times. I didn’t know him well, but a nice guy, and very helpful. He was in one of the buildings. He did not survive.

looking back

5. Do you “relive” the feelings you felt when the attacks actually happened when you see videos or read articles? Explain how it made you feel.

Right afterward, I did watch a lot of TV, over and over. {See below.] Now it seems when I see pictures of the burning towers, it still reminds me of the day. If I watch the videos, it reminds me, but I tend not to watch videos if I can help it. [What I still remember was just how beautiful the day was before the attacks.]

6. What aspects (parts) of American life do you think we changed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks?

I think, in the short term, there were a lot of people coming together. In the long term, I think people got a whole lot more paranoid, and rightly so. We lost a lot of unity when we decided unnecessarily to go to war in Iraq.

[I’ve written a lot more in the past about the so-called USA PATRIOT Act and Islamaphobia, and lots of other topics. This is enough for today, except…}

Mark Evanier recently wrote about people who may be too young to remember: “Thanks to the Internet and its hoarders, there are hundreds of places where you can download or just watch the news coverage from that day. Here’s one of many. Pick out a channel and watch its broadcast from just before the reports of the first plane hitting the North Tower until you’ve had enough. That was how most of us experienced it that morning…staring at the screen.” Including me. 

John Hiatt: When New York Had Her Heart Broke –

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

One thought on “When New York Had Her Heart Broke”

  1. I have 2 stories –
    1) I was at a bus stop waiting for the 2nd bus I take to work. Another regular came walking up and asked if I had heard. I hadn’t. He told me that a plane had hit the WTC. Like you I thought it was an accident – a small private jet that somehow had flown off course. The regular was listening to a radio and as we were talking about the first hit he suddenly said that a 2nd plane had hit the 2nd tower. Like you I knew this was a terror attack. The bus came and all the people were quiet with a few listening to radios. On route one yelled out that another plane had just hit the Pentagon.

    2) This happened 3 weeks after football resumed being played. I worked as a supervisor of concession stands in Sun Devil Stadium. The first 2 weeks the I worked games I was always in some stand checking temperatures of food being held in warmers when the National Anthem was being sung so to me everything was normal. Then the 3rd game back – an NFL game which meant we could sell beer so the concourse was always crowded and noisy with people in a huge hurry to get their food & beer to get to their seats. This time I was out in the concourse when it was time for the Anthem. I went into the seating area to watch for a bit then turned and walked back out to the concourse to get back to work. The concourse was quiet. Everyone in the concourse was standing facing the playing field, hands over their hearts and either softly singing along or quiet as can be. I was shocked, and proud of those people.

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