The horrendous event is forever etched in our minds
This is a rerun of a personal experience by Patti Pietschmann Travel Diva
As the world deals with the raging coronavirus it’s not easy to forget another major disaster that took thousands of lives on September 11,2011. These are the times that try men’s souls.
My husband Richard and I were in New York to gather travel articles and assignments on September 11, 2001. The memory of that horrific day is etched in our minds. It still feels like it happened yesterday. And I continue to cry whenever I think about it. Here’s our story.
We flew in from Los Angeles two days before the catastrophic event. The two days before the event were wonderful.
It is a day that lives in infamy. One that changed how we all live and travel. Once upon a time we’d breeze through airports and cruise ship check-ins. We didn’t need to remove shoes, measure liquids, leave our bottled water behind.
Prior to September 11, 2001, airport screening was provided in the U.S. by private security companies contracted by the airline or airport. In November 2001, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was introduced to take over all of the security functions of the FAA, the airlines, and the airports. A month after 9/11 TSA imposed the liquid carry on rule.
And then something evil this way came. A terrible, gut-wrenching experience witnessing two planes flying into the World Trade Center from our hotel room. Our only consolation came years later when Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed. We were actually docked in Honolulu off the Crystal Symphony the day Bin Laden met his maker. After a tour of nearby Chinatown we stopped in a bar for a drink. A television screen blared with the news. Everybody cheered. The bartender poured red, white and blue cocktail concoctions.
When Bin Laden’s evil followers flew airplanes into World Trade Center we were staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in a suite on the 43rd floor with a clear view of the Twin Towers from a picture window.
Bliss turns into misery
We actually arrived the night of September 9th. The next day, September 10 was an absolutely perfect Manhattan day. Warm, but not muggy. Everyone seemed to be going about business as usual.
My husband and I were there on assignments for a couple of magazines. The day before the worst disaster to hit the US and the world happened, couldn’t have been more perfect. We met friends and editors for lunch, cocktails, dinner, walked all over the city. I enjoyed a fabulous session in a New York spa for a piece I was working on.
After a delightful dinner at the Four Seasons with friends we turned in to our comfy bed. Only sleep wouldn’t come. I felt anxious. I dreamed of carnage and buildings falling down. After waking up I told my husband about the nightmare. It was just two hours before the first plane hit the tower.
I actually saw the second plane hit and couldn’t believe my eyes. I blinked and thought, “This can’t be happening.” The aircraft looked so tiny from our window, like a toy plane someone was flying.”
The events that ensued were so horrific that I was forced to undergo psychiatric therapy when we returned to Los Angeles several days later. We watched people diving out of windows, we smelled the burning flesh. We saw the anguish, the fear, the shock. It was the wickedest day of everybody’s life.
The only good was the calm that overcame the city. People sat in sidewalk cafes speaking quietly. You could walk the streets with no worries. Even muggers, thieves and bottom crawlers felt the pain.
I could write a book. Suffice it to say, New Yorkers really pulled through and came to each other’s aid. We sat with a man at the Four Seasons bar who had lost all but one of his staff. His company was based in the World Trade Center. He was spending the day meeting clients at the hotel. His only surviving employee escaped because while he was having breakfast in the Windows of the World with his work mates, he decided his shirt need ironing and left to take it the cleaners. While he was gone, the tower was hit. Amen.
Our bar mate was so distraught, he cried on my shoulder as I held this complete stranger’s hand and we cried and cried buckets of tears together. My eyes still tear up when I think about the innocent people who left for work that morning never to return; and the fire fighters and volunteers who died trying to save others. The fruitlessness of it all.
All flights canceled
We couldn’t fly home for several days and it wasn’t easy getting out the city, but we did finally get a car to drive out to Long Island. Lucky for us I have a cousin with a summer home in Montauk, Long Island who put us up until planes were operating again. It was good to be with loved ones (he’s my favorite cousin) and of course my husband (my best friend) was there, and we ate and drank and went to bars and mingled with all the other people who were still in shock and drinking hard and fast trying to forget what just happened.
But of course we never will. The 20th anniversary of 9/11 is this Saturday. Evil still continues to plague the world through senseless terrorist acts, both home and abroad.
All we could do then was to remain diligent and pray the violence ends. And the same goes for now and the ongoing struggle to contain coronavirus by following the guide lines of our health officials.
If you can stomach it, watch the CNN video attached of that infamous day.
God bless all the friends and families of all the victims who lost their lives in that heinous event.