Ten year ago I went on an annual vacation to Captiva in early October. It was 3 weeks after 9/11 and it was the 1st day Reagan National Airport had been reopened. I had one of the first flights out of that airport. It was an emotional trip because I was going to see my family for the first time since the terrorist attacks. I think everyone wanted to be with family after 9/11.
The thing that really sticks with me from that vacation was a guy we met. I went to breakfast Friday morning with my Mom and Brother. My brother, a firefighter paramedic, was wearing one of his firefighter shirts. We were sitting next to another table with a guy wearing a New York City Firefighters T-shirt and his wife. (I am not sure if you know this…but when two firefighters are with in a few hundred feet of each other they have to talk and they must surely be friends…it really is a brotherhood…no matter where they work.) He was actually a police officer and this was the first day he wasn’t working since 9/11. He started telling us his story and you could see the pain and hurt on his face. He had spent the past 20 days at Ground Zero digging out bodies; many of them were his friends. He was stoic as he told the search and rescue stories but he broke down crying when he talked about the first 12 hours after 9/11 and his inability to find his wife. She worked near the Trade Center and he didn’t know if she was alive or dead. Here was this big, strong man, crying with perfect strangers at breakfast. I think it was a release of his past few weeks of work.
It was also the times…we all felt like one family 10 year ago. I didn’t like watching all the coverage on TV today because it takes you back to that day. It was a scary sad day…no matter where you are. It is also a reminder that we much remain vigilant and alert. We have been lucky these past few years.
(If you want to read about my day 10 years ago you can click here.)