The Day Travel – and Life – Changed

It’s hard to believe 10 years have passed since that horrible day. I was living on Long Island at that time in an area deeply touched by the effects of September 11, 2001. Many of my neighbors worked in Manhattan, some in and around the World Trade Center. I spent the day with one close friend whose husband worked in Tower Two. We waited for hours to hear from him and, though he did make it back unharmed, many in his office did not.

In addition to the people I knew who worked at the World Trade Center, there many New York City Firefighters who live on Long Island. I knew some of those who went into the building burning, collapsing building to help survivors, and search for others. There was one husband and wife who both worked at Ground Zero, not able to let their five children know where they were.

At the same time I worried about the adults I knew stuck in New York City, there were school children – one of which was mine – sitting in classrooms down the block. They didn’t know if their parents were alive (some were not) and what was happening to anyone outside of the school walls. Dismissal was early that day and cell phones would be allowed in the school after that, as students missed those final phone calls from their parents.

For many days, Long Island was isolated, as the bridges and tunnels were closed. The newscasts went on and on, showing the planes crash over and over. It got to the point where I was ashamed of being a journalist as there is a fine line between news and exploitation. No one was happier than me when the Mets started playing, the sitcoms were once again broadcast and we all did our best not to spend every moment thinking about what happened.

I saw the changes in the world almost immediately as I began to travel. Airport security took on a new meaning. First, my laptop came out and I could no longer carry water. Then soon the shoes came off and the scanners appeared. Travel – and life – changed completely.

As the days and years went on, I did my best to remember those lost and those who served us, but I hated the thought of this 10 year anniversary celebration.  Life has forever changed for all of us and while I still feel that ratings was the biggest motivation this week when playing 9/11 tributes, I did (tearfully) watch some of the speeches at the memorial and realized how many needed this. 

I don’t know that I will be able to bring myself to go down to the 911 Memorial, but I’m glad it’s there. What I do know, beyond all, that we have all learned how precious life is and how important it is to enjoy each day we can with our loved ones.

Aerial photo of 911 Memorial as of August, 2011 by Joe Woolhead, courtesy of 911Memorial Photos were not released to the press after so the families would be the first to see it.


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