PS: Remembering 9/11: The Day My Backyard Changed…

Youtube Video: from DVideoPro – 9/11 Tribute


I know that my blog today is not unique in anyway but necessary.

To begin with it doesn’t feel like it has been 8 years – it feels like it was only last year that America was attacked, a memory that will never escape me and a day that I remember vividly. Born and bred in Jersey City, NJ, separated only by the Hudson River, New York City has always been my backyard. Instead of having beautiful lakes or mountains – I had the most amazing Skyline to gaze at every night outside my windows. September 11, 2001 changed the landscape that I once knew and grew to love as a little girl.

I was starting my second year of college and was on my second week of classes. I received a frantic phone call from my mother on the morning of September 11, 2001 as I was getting ready to leave for my morning class. The first thing she asked was when did my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time and already in the military, fly to California, I responded with “yesterday and why?” She instructed me to turn on the television, because I was obviously ignorant to what was occurring to our America.

I saw a plane in the World Trade Center and my heart was saddened at thought that there was a horrible plane accident right next door. And then, the other plane struck. I remember my facial expression, my hand gesture, my shock, my disbelief, and my confusion that I felt as I flipped through all the channels on my television as I repeatedly saw the same thing over and over again. I called my mother and she confirmed that what I had seen was real. I worried for my father because he works in New York but my mother comforted me with letting me know that he was safe. I couldn’t get in contact with my husband (boyfriend at the time), but I knew he was ok –  I just wanted to hear his voice.

I couldn’t take being home and wanted to escape. I didn’t want to watch anymore news coverage because inside me I knew something was wrong. All I could think is that ‘this doesn’t happen here’. I turned off my television, grabbed my car keys, and headed towards my college – I wanted to pretend nothing had happened and that it was a normal day. As I passed the Holland Tunnel there were people standing and stopped every where just starring at the Twin Towers burn. I remember when I came to a light, I stuck my head out the window to get a closer look at my skyline and a construction worker turned to me and said “Can you believe it? We are watching history!” I responded with an awkward smile and said “yea I know”. I continued on but everywhere I looked I saw the towers – and then on the highway to school I saw the first tower fall from a distance. Traffic slowed down and came to a complete stop. I knew everyone felt the exact same feeling at that moment. I pulled over to side of the road got out my car and cried. Others did the same. I, feeling alone again, got back into my car and headed towards school in hopes of finding support there.

Once I arrived at my college, all the students on the campus were glued to televisions – I walked past them all and took a seat in my classroom. The professor entered the room and told us that this day we will remember the rest of our lives and we should go home to be with family. My heart sank as reality became clearer. I dashed to my car and hurried back home – at this point there was no one on the highways.

 By the time I arrived home, both towers had fallen, the Pentagon had been hit, another plane had gone down in Pennsylvania, and no cell phones were working. I felt so disconnected – so alone – so scared. I got back in my car with no destination in mind and found myself 3 blocks away at Holy Rosary Catholic Church. The doors were open. I walked in and took a seat in the 2nd to last pew and stared at the altar as all I could do was think. I remember the quietness being so calming. Then the priest sat next me and only said “it’s ok” and held my hand and that’s when I cried and cried and cried. It was at that moment I allowed myself to accept that what had happened to our country was an act of terrorism and I, and my loved ones, were not guaranteed safety.

I don’t remember how I returned back to normalcy, but the smoke remained in my backyard for days and the landscape that I adored was gone. Everyone came together at this time. We hugged the strangers and cried with our neighbors. For the first time in my young life I knew what it meant to be, unapologetically, a proud American. My country had been attacked and the anger mixed with sadness began to stir.

My life changed that day. It made me appreciate more what it means to have the freedom and protection that our country’s military fights for. I also recognized that this meant we (America) would most likely be engaging in a war and the probability of my husband (then boyfriend) deploying was high.

Today I find myself still affected by this tragic event in our American history. I still cringe at videos of September 11 and even close my eyes at times as though I am watching a horror film.  I never feel 100% safe in New York City. I know this was a day that no one will forget – we all remember what we were doing, where we were going, and who we were with and/or not with.

My deepest condolences go out to all the families and friends that lost loved ones that day. I hope that you find comfort in the memories you have and from the love and support of those around you.

September 11, 2001……..Never forgotten.

PLEASE feel free to write your own story in the comment box – short or long, we all remember.


3 Responses

  1. Hello my dear. It looks like 9/11 Memorials and personal tributes are live and well in the blogosphere. This makes me feel better. I was thinking that the day might have faded in it’s potency 8 years after the fact, another date on the calendar. I think the more the stories and memories are kept alive in an honest way the more we can honor the experience of the people who perished and survived that day. My blog post today at follows along the same lines of yours in a personalization of the collective trauma our nation experienced. My thoughts and prayers are with all those that died, the families that survived, and the soldiers abroad who stand strong and bravely daily.

  2. […] been started (Aug. 2009) but has already lots of interesting entries. Marisol Romero, the author, remembers 9/11, or describes the pain of losing a person close to you – on the lighter side it was pure […]

    • Thank you so much for you kind words about my blog on yours. I hope to continue to connect with as many military wives as possible – because even with all the highs, lows, and ‘funnies’ that occur during deployment, i know that there is at least one other military wife that can relate. Thank you so much again, very kind 🙂

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