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I will never forget

Never forget 9/11It is September 11th. It has been 12 years since the unthinkable happened and our world was changed forever.

There are so many that lost so much more than I did that day. I was born and raised in NY and grew up in the shadow of the World Trade Center, those buildings were part of the fabric of our lives, so many events happened in and around them. My older sister worked across the street at Merrill Lynch and I remember going to work with her as a young child and watching them go up. My brother-in-law works for the Port Authority and he took us up on the roof. I rode in many bike tours that ended victoriously in the plaza between the buildings. I even worked there for 2 weeks on a temp assignment on the 102nd floor. They were just there, every time I saw the skyline of the city I love they took my breath away.

September 11, 2001, was a magnificent day, the sky could not be more blue, the perfect NY late Summer/early Fall day. I was on my way to work and listening to Howard Stern on my walkman – I honestly thought he was joking as he reported that a plane hit the World Trade Center…. then I looked up and saw that plume of smoke that is etched in the memories of all who saw it. I got off the bus and the next thing I remembered was I sitting at my desk and trying to sign on to my computer.

I remember the day so clearly, but there are chunks of time that are just gone. We all watched the events of the day unfold in a conference room and one thing I will never forget is the expressions on the faces of my friends and colleagues, eventually, we realized that we needed to do something, make sure everyone was OK, get home to our loved ones.

At the time I lived in Riverdale, which is in the Bronx and I realized I was going to need to walk home in my pretty, but impractical shoes. I ran out to Sports Authority, it was mayhem, I would have bought a bike or a scooter, but they were gone. So I grabbed a pair of sneakers and as many socks as I could buy – as I walked back to my office I handed out socks to people in the street.

Freedom Tower - NYCThese are my September 11th sneakers and my remembrance ritual every year is to wear these sneakers and wish all good and positive things for the many, many people that lost their lives that day, their families and loved ones. The kids that lost their parents. I am wearing them right now.

There was a group of us all walking in the same direction, we waited for a colleague’s wife who was walking uptown, she worked in Tower 1, but fortunately, she was late, it was election day and she voted that morning. It was incredibly eerie, we walked through Central Park and it was packed but so quiet, no one was talking, there was no traffic, no buses, no helicopters. The hustle and bustle was gone. Every person had the same shocked and haunted look in their eyes. I was very grateful that I was not alone.

For the next few weeks NY was a strange place, everyone was polite. I love my NYers and they are kind and good people, not necessarily polite and that was off-putting. I was secretly relieved when everyone got their attitude back…..

Visiting 9/11 Memorial

My son visiting the memorial

About a month later my son was conceived, over the next few months I learned that nine people I worked with were pregnant and we were all due mid-month between April and October. Coincidence, maybe… I did not really think about it, I was happy, my pregnant friends were happy, all the babies were healthy and well. But as each year goes by I think about this and I know these kids, they are special… A few years ago I started to think this was not an accident, we are repopulating, replacing special people that were taken violently and too soon. Who knows for sure, but it makes me smile and restores hope. I know I am keeping an eye on those born in the year 2002.

Today and everyday, hug your kids, tell your friends and family that you love them and if you happen to be in NYC look up and remember…..

Thanks for allowing me to share and please be mindful of your social media posts today – let’s just wait until tomorrow to market our businesses and sell our stuff. I would love it if you would share your stories of remembrance too.

Donna Cravotta

 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Frank Aprilano

    Donna,

    Very well said and you know me – I have to share also. As I was reading your post, it brought me right back to that day and even brought back the feelings we were all having in that conference room – disbelief, doubt, anger, shock, resolve, and then that moment when many of us realized that no matter what was going on outside, we needed to get home to be with our loved ones. I remember in the dazed and confused state that I was In that I just needed to be home. Maybe not safe there or getting there but come hell or high water, I wanted to be home. I remember walking over the Queensboro Bridge with some co-workers and MANY strangers who quickly became friends as we all made the trek on foot. Same thing, weird silence. More shock and disbelief. Looking south from the bridge at the burning rubble and smoke – this was a dream – it had to be a dream. This could not be real. Then as I peeled off from many of the folks I walked with across the bridge as we fanned out in our seperate directions in Queens, I found myself walking on the shoulder of the LIE and I had taken my shoes off (I was not as smart as you buying sneakers) walking in my socks because my feet hurt. I was alone there. Walking by myself on the LIE, no traffic, just me walking and trying to process what was happening. All I had was my Walkman which also had radio on it so I was tuned into the live coverage. All I could think of was I wanted to get home. I could not call anyone, friends or family, to see if they were OK or to let them know I was OK and was walking home many miles along the LIE. I finally made it home and in the coming days, as the reality and severity of the situation started to sink in, the shock wore off some to the point where we all got to the point that we were had to carry on. These terrorists were NOT going to disway us from living our lives. They have not but we never forget. Thanks for letting me share.

    Reply
    • Donna

      Oh Frank thank YOU. This morning as I donned my sneakers I though of you and Rich and Mike and his wife and so many others. I remembered walking around with batteries and then realized we did not need them. It was surreal on unimaginable levels. We will all be connected forever, even to the people we do not know.

      I am thrilled you were safe and only wish I had bought as many sneakers as I could carry that day, but none of us were thinking clearly.

      Much love Donna

      Reply

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