Remembrance 2018

Band of Brothers is a masterful series that taps into every possible emotion that you can feel and it pulls absolutely no punches when trying to display and emphasise the horrors the men and woman fighting in World War II faced.

Band of Brothers sets out to remember those who served in World War II and show us what they had to endure. There is so much for each of us to take from the series, but my own impressions are that the intention was not to glorify war or to paint these men as superhuman.

There is a touching moment (among many) in the extras when Major Dick Winters quotes a passage from a letter he received from Sergeant Mike Ranney, “I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day when he said, ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ Grandpa said ‘No…but I served in a company of heroes’.”

Part of the blurb for Major Dick Winters’s book, ‘Beyond Band of Brothers’ reads:

“Winner of the Distinguished Service Cross, only he could pen this moving tribute to the human spirit.”

Here are a few quotes from the book from Major Dick Winters which you may agree give some insight to him and which are every bit as true now as they were in the 1940’s.

 “It is my earnest hope that these memoirs will assist each of you to find your personal peace and solitude in a turbulent world.”

“So many died so that others could live. No one understands why.”

“I have discovered that it is far easier to find quiet than to find peace. True peace must come from within oneself.”

Band of Brothers started its run on HBO on 9th September 2001, two days before the attacks on 11TH September 2001. After the attacks, HBO sensitively ceased their marketing campaign for Band of Brothers. Reeling and in shock no one really wanted to watch a programme detailing the horrors of war.

Band of Brothers details men who fought against fascism and are remembered for it. On 11th September 2001, the majority of people who died were office workers simply going to work.

In 2005, London was attacked the day after winning the right to host the Olympics in 2012. In 2007, Glasgow airport was attacked. My own government dropped a drone, killing two of its own citizens that it believes were plotting terrorist attacks on the UK.

The last few years have seen a rise in attacks across the world with many countries in the firing line, in the west and east. The world is becoming angrier in response.

On the surface of it, it can seem dramatic to say that the world pre and post 9/11 are shockingly different. Yet war seems like a constant backdrop now in a way it did not before. Even though it can be difficult to articulate it seems to me that everything changed on that day. Perhaps this was simply my youth and ignorance in 2001, but I’m not so sure.

Remember those lost and those who lost.

Damianista

I had just finished my PhD and moved to New York for my first job in August 2001. We lived on the Upper West Side and I was extremely excited about all happening around me without knowing that the world would change forever in a few weeks…

We had a friend visiting us from Turkey that week and I was not teaching on Tuesdays so I stayed home on September 11. And I remember exactly what I was doing when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. I was in the shower. I heard our guest saying “Wow, a plane hit the WTC.” And, me, always being a knowing-it-all type said to myself: “I knew some plane would hit those buildings one day, they are so tall.” I was totally wrong. It was a scenario, until that day, even Hollywood had not been able to come up with. I felt very sad. But I didn’t cry. Maybe because I grew up in a country where bombings and attacks were a fact of life as I was growing up that hardened me. Or, maybe because I went completely numb. It felt so strange to know that it was happening a 15-20 minute cab ride away from us. I cried in the following days and weeks as workers kept searching the debris and I even found myself singing “God Bless America.”

New Yorkers did not panic in the wake of the attacks. They were sad, but calm, and tried to understand… And, I think, it was the strength and the resilience the city showed in the face of the attacks that made me fall in love with New York. I went downtown only a month after the attacks. The entire neighborhood still smelled burnt rubber. I will never forget that.

I am an immigrant. I came to the US in 1996 for graduate school and stayed. September 11 may be the first day that I felt American.

source: Damianista
source: Damianista

9/11 Memorial that stands in the place of the two towers is an architectural wonder with a mesmerizing eternity feel to it. Everyone that died in the towers (in 2001 and in the earlier attacks in 1993) has his or her name engraved on all sides of the memorial. They place a rose on a victim’s name on his or her birthday.

I did not cry on 9/11. But I could not hold back my tears when I visited the memorial especially when I saw the names of the first responders.

JaniaJania

It was still early in Seattle, Bellevue actually, a suburb of Seattle. My husband and I were about to get up and get ready for work. The phone rang, it was my husband’s best friend and this is the gist of what I remember from the conversation: “Hey, are you guys up, did you hear?” “No, what.” “Someone crashed into the World Trade Center.” “Oh, okay, I’ll put the news on.” At that point I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. (just between you and me: the friend who delivered the news had a tendency towards drama) For some reason I went downstairs even though we had a TV right there. All I could do was stare at the screen. I may have started off standing but I remember sitting down next to the living room chair (not actually on the chair) and continued to stare at the screen. I saw the video of the first plane hit and the news people watching and talking about possible scenarios. “Some sort of accident,: they guessed. “A lost plane.” Then the second plane hit and the news people gasped. Someone said, “oh, ok.” They stopped speaking, but you could hear them breathing. Then, someone said “ok, this isn’t an accident, possibly…” Someone else “We may be under attack…” No one knew what to say. I ran back upstairs to tell my husband and by the time I got there he already had the TV on. We sort of grabbed each other and held on tight and kept staring at the screen.

I called my office (I was in grad school and doing an internship) to ask if everyone was still coming in to work. The guy who answered the phone seemed a bit confused. I asked him if he’d heard the news. And he still seemed confused and sort of impatiently said, “Yes, as far as I know, everyone is coming in.” So I went in to work. Everything was sort of numb at this point. At work, in the cafeteria, they had a TV set up. I went to get coffee, and saw people crowded around the TV, I didn’t want to see it again, so I went back to my desk. I came back out for a walk later, and some folks were again gathered at the TV. I briefly stood there to see if anything had changed, whether there was any more information. I can’t really describe the feeling in any way that makes sense. There was a lump in my throat and I remember my fingertips being numb. The most excruciating image of all the images looping on the screen was the people waving their arms out of those shattered windows, some of them hanging off the windows, and some diving out of the windows. It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen. The refrain of “oh my god, oh my god” kept looping in my head.

I used to live in NYC. My sister, until June 2001, lived in Battery Park City and she would take the subway from WTC every day. Had she still been living there, she would have possibly been under whichever building had the subway station, waiting for a subway, when the planes hit. If you’ve ever lived in Manhattan or even near it, you know that very special mix of anonymity and intimacy all New Yorkers share. We literally climb over each other rushing out of Penn Station every morning, or trying to squeeze into a crowded train; we’re in each other faces all the time. NYers know other NYers intimately, we know to not keep eye contact for too long and how to be hard and streetwise. I thought of those people jumping out of those buildings as my peers riding trains every day… it was just so unfathomable.

Ultimately, the biggest thought in my mind was “Please let the people who did this not be Muslims”. (when Oklahoma City Federal Bldg was bombed, I remember thinking the same thing and the sense of palpable relief when the culprit wasn’t Muslim….Of course, this time there would be no such feeling of relief)

At some point, I must have called my Mom (living in Long Island at the time) and asked if everyone in the family and extended family all over the East Coast was okay.

Later that week, I was still at a loss of what to do. I tried to give blood on Wednesday, there was a line out the door of the donation center, and someone came outside and told us that there really wasn’t a need for blood. They hadn’t gotten any calls. When the blood banks turn you away it usually means there are more casualties than injuries. I listened to radio reports, watched on TV, interviews with the anguished families hanging up flyers in search of their loved ones.

Somehow I got word of the vigil to be held at a church in Seattle. I’m not Christian. But I needed to go. The church was packed, standing room only. The pastor, when she thanked everyone for coming, even joked a bit that she’d never seen the room so full. I can’t call what I did prayer, I just knelt at the pew with my hands clutched tight, listening to the pastor and the sobs from all around. In that church, I felt some peace, some awareness I wasn’t alone. That’s all churches, mosques, can be, I think. Places to feel community. I did feel community that day, like none I’ve ever experienced before or since.

Although the world did go to hell that day, those first few hours and days were actually a bit magical in how unified we all felt. We were all at one that day.”

Lady Trader

I have lived in New York my whole life, and worked in lower Manhattan from 1988 until 2003. My first job out of high school was at a firm called Dean Witter, and I worked in 5 World Trade Center. Growing up in Brooklyn, my dream was to work in “the City” as we called Manhattan. From my bedroom window, I could see the Twin Towers and felt that if I could work in those buildings, I would have “made it”. At the age of 17, both those dreams came true.

WTCbklyn

It was brilliantly clear, beautiful late summer morning. I was in my office at the tip of lower Manhattan (approximately 3-4 blocks from the World Trade Center) on 9/11, dialing in to a conference call. Word started to spread around the office that a plane had hit one of the Towers. At first, everyone assumed it was a small prop plane. The thought of a commercial airliner never crossed my mind. I went around to the side of the building that faced north, and saw smoke coming from the Towers, but still nothing to make me think it was a 767. As I went back to my desk, I thought “I hope not many people were hurt”. Several minutes later, the news that another plane had hit the South Tower came across my news feed. Then, the word of the crash at the Pentagon.

Being in the tallest building at the southern tip of Manhattan, panic and fear spread across the office. Would our building be next? Both my mother and husband worked two blocks from me, and phone lines were down. I could not reach anyone. Even as I write this, the emotion of that morning is as fresh as the minute it happened.

I eventually made contact with both my husband and mother, and went into my Mom’s office. She was in a sub-level of her building, and we felt it was safer underground. Around noon, we left her office, trying to make our way out of Manhattan and into Brooklyn. All transportation out the city was shut down, so we walked over the Manhattan Bridge with many others. I walked over the bridge with thousand of New Yorkers, and there was a deafening silence. As I got to the mid-point of the bridge, I looked towards Manhattan, and where two buildings that meant so much to me used to stand, was nothing but smoke. Surreal does not even come close to what I felt. Empty, sad and scared is a much better description.

liberty

I was one of the lucky people who did not lose a loved one on 9/11. But I lost of the feeling of safety, and part of my identity that day.

686FreedomTowerWorkRampsUp_pic1

It is hard to imagine that it has been 16 years since that tragic day.  The Freedom Tower now stands where the Twin Towers once stood, and the area has gotten back to normal. However, when I am down in the area, all I can think of is “this is where 5 WTC used to be” or “this was the bridge over Liberty Street where I used to sit and read during lunchtime.”

The world changed drastically on that September day. The city that I love has recovered, but we never forget. And that is the essence of New York.

Holliedazzle

I’m not a New Yorker, nor did I know anyone in the city, at that time, let alone anyone who died that day. I didn’t have friends or family at the pentagon, and no one I knew was on the plane that made a crash landing in Connecticut.  But being all the way in Minnesota, that sunny fall day, I was not oblivious to the events transpiring across the country.

As many have mentioned, this was pre-smart phone.  My phone was a small, simple flip phone.  I wasn’t even texting, yet.  I could make and receive calls, and also play a game called “snake”.  It was kinda like Centipede.  Anyhow, all the news that came to me that morning came second hand, and in a panic.  I was a week into beauty school, was just changing into a terrycloth gown to play model for a classmate as she gave me a spa facial.  But then the phone on our classroom wall rang.

In town was a special guest teacher from Chicago, and she was on the line from her hotel room.  She called my teacher, panicking.  That snippet of news that just started to break as I left for school, that someone had crashed a plane into the Twin Towers? It was an attack on America.  The pentagon, according to her, was “gone.” Bombs were in air.  This was the end.  My entire classroom screamed, my teacher begged us to stay while she ran out to confirm it.

We didn’t stay.

I shoved myself back into my clothing, tears streaming down my face.  It was so unfair, why was the world ending? I had just started school, I was so happy.  Why now? I was only 20, why now?  I hitched a ride with a classmate, back home to my apartment I shared with my boyfriend. I ran into a neighbor, walking her dog calmly.  I was sobbing. she asked if I was ok.  I said “don’t you know?” She replied “yes, its awful.”  I couldn’t believe she was just walking her dog during all this!  I called my mom, sobbing.  Left her a rambling 5 minute goodbye voicemail.  I grabbed a yellow pages, looked up my boyfriend’s work, and called him there.  It was only then, after a good 45 minutes, that I was set straight. Armageddon this was not.

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Though it wasn’t the end of MY life, things sure did change.  And I was far from the only Minnesotan affected by 9/11.  Tom Burnett, who grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota, was one of several men who brought down Flight 93, forcing the plane to crash into a field in Connecticut.  You’ll remember the phrase “Let’s roll”, as it was said by one of the other men involved, Todd Beamer. It’s thought that their plane was destined to crash into the White House.  These men took a brave stand, and I lay flowers at their memorial in Mall of America each year on 9/11.

A cellphone shot from my iphone of the memorial on 9/11/12. The vase of white roses appear each year, I am not sure who from.
A cellphone shot from my iphone of the memorial on 9/11/12. The vase of white roses appear each year, I am not sure who from.

 

Gingersnap

I am not from New York. When the tragedy of 9/11 happened I didn’t personally know anyone who lived in the city. But thanks to this blog I now know three fellow blog mates who either currently live or have lived in the state. Even though I’m from Oklahoma, I can now say I’m a New-Yorker-by-proxy, as my daughter moved to Manhattan 10 years after 9/11 to attend college. She never came back and is now a Brooklyn transplant.

Road tripping across half the U.S., we opted to drive my daughter from Oklahoma to New York City in late August, 2011. The car was packed from ceiling to floor, as we had to furnish her dorm-apartment for the most part. I lost count of how many bags of clothes were vacuumed sealed just so we had enough space in the SUV!  And the four-tier shower stand that looked like a Pogo Stick almost ended up as road kill on I-70.

We had already argued about her attending college in New York in the first place. I lost the battle. I was fearful and used every over-exaggerated excuse to persuade her,

“It’s an island that is going to fall off into the ocean or flood.”

“It’s on the coast and susceptible to hurricanes, typhoons, etc.”

“What if you get mugged in Central Park or get lost on the subway? You’re not good with paying attention to your surroundings or understanding N-S-E-W.”

“You’ll be closer to the Bermuda Triangle, closer than ever before.”

“What about 9/11?”

And there you have it, my biggest fear, 9/11. As we drove to New York I tried to make it as fun as possible, moreso for me than her: 1) we got out of the vehicle at every state line and took a selfie with the state line sign, 2) we stopped in St. Louis to see the Arch, 3) we detoured just a bit to go to my favorite dive in the ENTIRE United States, Fast Eddie’s, 4)  we detoured again to go to Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken and 5) I got to drive down the New Jersey turnpike through the Lincoln Tunnel like Tony Soprano as we played the theme song to The Sopranos.

But even with all that distraction it wasn’t enough to keep my mind off of losing my daughter to New York or thinking about 9/11, which always dredges up memories of the Oklahoma City Bombing. Prior to 9/11, the Oklahoma City Bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil and remains the deadliest incident of domestic terrorism in United States history.

During our road trip to New York I shared my fears with my daughter.  I talked to her about the Oklahoma City Bombing – how I drove my best friend from Tulsa to OKC 100 MPH as soon as it happened so she could search for her father, an environmental specialist with the Housing and Urban Development – how I had to chase down that best friend as she ran in the middle of the street, barefoot, getting as close as she could before running into barricades. Authorities, thankfully, stopped her the closer she got to the site, me trailing slightly behind…seeing her silhouette collapse in slow motion onto the asphalt, just lying there in a fetal position. We calmed her as much as we could.

Feeling lost and helpless with no where to go, we went to the only place we could – her father’s home. There we sat and waited for the dreadful call. Family started pouring in. I did everything I could to keep my mind off of what just happened. I cooked, cleaned and took care of her 6-month old who arrived with grandma later that day. The following day I was on laundry duty when I heard the phone rang. The phone hung on a wall between the kitchen and the laundry room. Closest in proximity, I answered it. It was the medical examiner’s office.  I handed the phone to my best friend’s older sister – who didn’t want to take the phone from me – and walked upstairs as slowly as I could, trying to put off the inevitable, to find my best friend I had known since second grade. Four days after the bombing we attended the Memorial Prayer Service and Bill Clinton’s address. Do you know I had completely blocked out the fact that President Clinton even spoke at the service? Blocked it out for years! It was the first and last time I had ever been in the same room as an American President, let alone four rows away.

As we walked into the auditorium volunteers handed out stuffed teddy bears that had collars made of green and white checkered ribbon tied around the neck. I don’t know why I remember that small of a detail, but trauma will do that to a person…you’ll focus on something small or not remember something at all. I have missing black-out sections of time, parts that other people fill in for me and visa versa. Each one of us contributes some small nuanced detail we remember, piecing together the days’ events like a puzzle. After the service I drove to a Kinko’s location and FedEx’d the bear to the young toddler I left behind in Tulsa so she knew I was thinking of her. To this day that bear is in my daughter’s treasure box in the attic.

Still in the SUV driving to New York, my daughter replied,

“I remember that bear.”

And now…my best friend’s father’s memory sits in a Field of Empty Chairs.

My daughter had not realized that I was pretty much near ground zero two hours after the bomb went off on April 19, 1995, which prompted her to ask me where I was when 9/11 happened.

I distinctively remember I was outside standing in line for a blow-out clearance sale at the retail store Tuesday Morning. It was chilly that morning as I sipped on my french vanilla cappuccino waiting for the doors to open since 7:00 a.m. I shopped, checked-out a little after 8:00 a.m. central time and drove to my sister’s work to show her my finds since it was on the way to my own place of employment. At that time I was a mental health professional working with children in State custody for abuse/neglect and my first morning session wasn’t until 9:00 a.m. central time. When I walked in to the lobby of my sister’s building the receptionist had the most terrified look on her face and asked me if I knew what had happened. I had not. She quickly started showing me information on the internet. I immediately left and drove to work. We wheeled in a cart that housed an outdated television set as we sat in the private common room where all the therapists waited for their clients and watched the images of the airplanes on our screen. We canceled any appointments that showed up and eventually went home. I didn’t cry at first. I was too shocked to cry. I didn’t know if it was over. I didn’t know if there were more planes coming. Was this Armageddon? Was the world ending?  I cried that night as I lay in bed unable to sleep.

Seven Oklahomans perished in the 9/11 attacks:

David Rice, age 31
Brother of Oklahoma State Senator Andrew Rice
Investor at Sandler O’Neill & Partners on the 104th floor in the south tower of the World Trade Center

Jayesh “Jay” Shah, age 38
Vice President of eSpeed International, a division of Cantor Fitzgerald financial services, in the north tower of the World Trade Center

Wayne Terrial Davis, age 29
Callixa Corp. on the 106th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center

David Shelby Berry, age 43
Executive Vice President and Director of Research at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. on the 89th floor of the south tower at the World Trade Center

Spc. Chin Sun “Sunny” Pak Wells, age 24
Personnel Specialist at the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel at the Pentagon

Brian Moss, age 34
Petty Officer 1st Class, Navy
Electronics Technician at the Pentagon

Major Ron Milam, age 33
Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, assigned to the Pentagon

Reaching our final destination in lower Manhattan, my daughter and I spoke about the 1993 WTC bombing, the the 1995 OKC bombing, and 9/11. My daughter reminded me tragedy can strike anywhere and she would be safe moving to New York. The Big Apple has one magnificent young adult from little ole’ Oklahoma, making this world a better place.

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