Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tanya Writes About the Heroes of 9/11

Where were you when the world stopped turning....
that September day?

When the towers were hit, I was driving to school, mourning my Beta fish Elizabeth. (Yes, I know they're male, but my friend Betty gave it to me and I named the fish after her. This one ended up Elizabeth I. I bought Elizabeth II later that day.) And because of my mood, I had on a relaxation spa tape and not KHAY, the country station which has frequent newsbreaks.

So not knowing a thing, I walked into my office and saw my ever-so-hard-working colleague glued to the TV set. I asked what was wrong.

Oh my God. I called my hero right away. A firefighter, his thoughts were with the brotherhood marching UPWARD into hell while everybody else was coming down.

I was scheduled the next day to attend a college counseling conference two hours away. Although I prayed the thing was cancelled, it wasn't...and I headed out that night to a hotel.

I can't explain how weird it was, no planes in the sky. Something that subtle suddenly not there was so unbelievably noticeable.

I wore a red and white top with a denim skirt to the conference, trying for patriotism. A night or two later, my hero and I attended a candlelit ceremony at the county government center....with hundreds of others.

This past summer, we visited Ground Zero. The temporary museum (the "real" one won't open until I think 2012.) supplies boxes of Kleenex every few feet. There really aren't any words a human can use to describe the pain that lingers there. The taped messages of loved ones who waited...and waited. One firefighter's wife said, everybody thinks September 11 was the worst day. Well, for me it's the 12th...the day they found my husband's body.

Make that body parts. I think only one late firefighter came out whole.

Ladder 10 is right across from the site. On 9/11, the entire shift crew perished. My hero went into talk to the guys. The memorials are heart-rending. A bronze mural down the side of the station features Truck #343.

The unimaginable number of firefighters lost that day.

I'm getting shivers just writing this. On our subway (make that "train") to Yankee Stadium, my hero had on a firefighter logo T-shirt. A guy sitting across from us started up a conversation. On 9/11, he'd been six-weeks retired from FDNY, and the minute the towers fell, he and almost 1,000 other retirees came back on the job. Nothing would keep them away.

Well, I know firefighters. Nothing can hold them back.

And I'll always have in my mind and heart the yellow Lab guide dog, Roselle, leading her man safely down 80 stories. Reading an article on them years later while I waited for an oil change had me sobbing in public.

Oh, I'm shivering again.

God bless the USA.

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