Photo courtesy of Routers
Every year on this date, I start watching the clock as soon as I get up. I can’t help it. I feel driven to re-live it, to not forget. The first plane with hit Tower 1 in an hour. In half an hour. In 15 minutes..10….5….8:46 am, tower 1 was hit. 9:03 am, plane number 2 hits Tower 2. 9:37 am, the Pentagon is hit by plane number 3. 9:58 am, the South Tower, or Tower 2 collapses. 10:03 am, United Airlines flight 93 is crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. Passengers tried to force the cockpit door, forcing the hijackers to down the plane rather than their hit their target, which was thought to be either the Capitol Building or the White House. 10:28 am, the North Tower collapses. It’s safe to say that none of us will forget the things we saw and heard that day. The way we felt. Helpless, scared, heartbroken and furious.
September 11, 2001 was a gorgeous, crisp, sunny early fall day for us here in Maine. Hallee and I had just moved back to Maine less than a year before. My workday at MBNA in Belfast started at 9 that morning and at about quarter of, I was pulling into the daycare parking lot at work. The radio announcer said, “I don’t know if this is a joke or not, but if it is, it’s not funny. I’m getting a report of a plane hitting one of the towers at the World Trade Center in New York City. I don’t know if it’s a big plane or a tourist plane..I’ll tell you what I find out.” Thinking it must have been one of the little tourist planes flying too low, I thought to myself, “God, watch over them” and got Hallee out of the car and took her inside. As I was signing us in, I asked the security guard on duty if he had heard anything about a plane hitting the towers in New York. He hadn’t and reached for his radio. I left Hal and went next door to work. We hadn’t been at our desks for more than half an hour and we knew something was wrong, but we were all hearing different things, some true, some not. A floor manager stood up on a desk and made an announcement. The Twin Towers had been hit by jetliners. They say it’s a terrorist attack. Go home and be safe, a manager will call you and we’ll go from there. We don’t know more. I don’t remember getting to the car, I remember signing Hallee out of daycare and then I remember standing in front of our tv in our sun-filled 3rd floor living room. I called my father at Emergency Management in Atlantic City. What do we do? Do we stay here? Do we come home? What’s going on? He told me it was a terrorist attack. It was bad. Go to my sister’s house and stay there until we heard from him. I will never in my life forget that drive from Belfast to Blue Hill. One of the most scenic drives in the state on one of the most beautiful days we had seen and it was a nightmare come to life. Listening to the radio news announcers, driving with my hand over my mouth and seeing so clearly the faces of drivers coming towards me with their hands over their mouths as well. ”Oh my God, oh no. Those poor people” went over and over in my head. I made it to Rob’s a little after 10 and we sat side by side on her couch holding hands and crying. ”They’re jumping, oh my God they’re jumping”. And we watched, as those poor souls made the choice to jump to their deaths rather than wait for the fire to take them. We all have stories..where we were, what we were doing, who we were with. And because all of those many, many people lost their lives, I will remember. I will remember them and honor them, each and every one. I pray for them, for their families and for their friends left behind. I thank them for their sacrifice and tell them that I will not forget.
I was coming off 395 into Brewer this morning (Brewer is our beautiful sister city across the river) after taking the kids to school and saw the Brewer Fire Department putting our flag up on their ladder truck. It touched my heart to see it there, hanging against the gray sky and so I turned left instead of right and got out to look.
Brewer Fire Department ladder truck.
There were some firemen by the truck and I went over and asked if they minded me taking a picture. One gentleman, a firefighter named Jason Gross told me to look behind me in the truck bays, that they had a piece of steel from the Twin Towers. I looked up at it and my heart skipped. I have never seen anything in person from the Towers, and there it was. Huge. And bent and twisted like a ribbon.
Steel from the Twin Towers at the Brewer Fire Department.
Jason told me that they also had another piece upstairs in their museum, and would I like to see it? I felt so honored and also clueless. How is this here and I didn’t know? They have a museum (for both the fire department as well as the police department) that’s open to everyone each day with no admission. We went upstairs and in their beautiful little museum was the second piece of steel. Jason said it was OK to touch it and with gentle fingers, I did. What a sense of reverence and honor. And loss. And anger. Still.
Steel beam from the World Trade Center.
Jason got called away but told me I could stay for a bit and I was glad to do so.
Firefighter Jason Gross, of the Brewer Fire Department, thank you for your time!
If like me, you weren’t aware that we have this amazing piece of history right in our own back yards, please make the time to go and see for yourselves. Not only do these amazing folks put their own lives on the line for us each and every day, but they are the keepers of these pieces of the Towers, and the keepers of the memories of so many of their brothers that were lost to us all on that awful day. The Brewer Public Safety building is at 151 Parkway South in Brewer.
Brewer Public Safety Building.
It was an honor for me to see these pieces today and I am grateful I got the chance. I hope you all took some time today to remember 9/11. And I hope you’ll hug your sweetheart, give your kids an extra kiss and please…never forget.