Thursday, September 11, 2008

New York, New York

The day the planes hit, I was trying to tune into a radio interview with Patrick Madrid. One of the stations had interrupted programming with a news bulletin; all I had to hear was "the president looked grave" to know that something bad had happened.

My younger kids were watching "Barney" or something. I shooed them out of the room and turned to a news channel to the sight of smoke coming out of both of the towers. They were breaking in with news about the Pentagon, and something about a plane crash in Pennsylvania. I switched back to kiddie shows and ran upstairs to my computer ...

I began emailing friends back in New York. I was born and raised in Queens, and I still have many friends and family who live and work there. One friend said he could see the smoke when he was crossing one of the bridges to his workplace. Shortly after that I got a message: "They're gone."

What do you mean "GONE"?

I tuned in to a visual report to see empty, smoking air where the towers had been. Unfathomable. I started crying, nearly screaming.

As the news reports came in, jumbled and confused, I was proud of my city. I saw New Yorkers mobilizing, getting ready to deal with the wounded that would flood the hospitals.

They didn't come.

In the days that followed, the people of this country stepped up and stepped in to bind the wounds. The firefighters collected fistfuls of $20 bills in boots on street corners here in Raleigh and in Durham to send to New York. Workers poured in from across the United States to help with search efforts. More food, clothing, and money than could be used were donated. The generosity of the American people can be nearly overwhelming.

But pain continued weeks after the attacks, with churches conducting funeral after funeral after funeral, day after day after day.

Remember, and say a prayer.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

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