Sunday, September 11, 2011

The 9/11 Tragedy, Ten Years Later

Rest in peace, all who died as a result of the tragedy on 9/11/2001. You are not forgotten.

All day I've been working on the computer while watching the recap of the tragedy on 9/11, ten years ago but it feels just like yesterday. I remember it just like it was yesterday, though. All those people, just gone. It's just beyond comprehension. And quite a few of those who worked so hard on the wreckage have cancer and other physical ailments as a result of their bravery. Then there's the families and those who survived the carnage, only to end up with Post Traumatic Stress and grief over losing friends and/or loved ones. It's just so terribly unfair.

When 9/11 hit ten years ago, I was at a hotel in Las Vegas, having flown there the night before by my ex-boyfriend, who was attending a huge professional bakers' convention there. Here we were in a lovely high-rise on the 15th floor, in a pretty suite overlooking the city. I had the flu (caught the day before, what bad luck), and didn't do much since my head was spinning, but I turned on the Today show the morning of the 11th and witnessed the collapse of the Twin Towers and the rest of the horrible chain of events. It was surreal, terrifying (especially since they targeted American Airlines, the airline I'd flown in on the night before).

Nearby McCarran airport the night before had a steady flow of planes flying in and out, which could be seen from our suite window the night I got there. On 9/11 all planes stopped, of course, and instead there was a jet fighter plane circling the city, guarding it. Las Vegas would've been an easy target, so loaded with large crowds of people and high-rises (such as the one we were staying in). The city still operated after the tragedy but in a subdued, guarded way. The Forum shops were off-limits, closed, as was some of the attractions. When we went to the nearby Hoover Dam, state troopers inspected cars and asked questions before all of us were allowed to cross it, and we weren't allowed to stop on it at all.

When my ex and I had lunch at Caesar's Palace, we watched people across the way all watching the tragedy on many monitors on walls, normally used for horse race gambling, I think. You could've heard a pin drop, it was so very quiet. I remember feeling overwhelmed with sadness, and how I wanted to go help those working at the site in NYC. Being sick with the flu, that wasn't going to happen. My ex and I had a rental van, so we drove to southern California after his convention wrapped up. Wherever we went, I was glued to the tv, trying to get updates on what was going on. It was too devastating an event to not be aware of what was happening. As we drove around, we saw crowds of people waving American flags and holding signs in support of the USA. It was wonderful to see such solidarity of people all over, we all needed comfort during this time, and seeing the people together like this was heartwarming.

My ex and I went to see Jay Leno at the Tonight show, it was the first show after a respectful break away from comedy at that time. We ended up in the front row there at the studio, the place was freezing cold. Jay wheeled out a motorcycle and stars such as Tom Cruise and Arnold Schwartzennegger came to sign it. The motorcycle was eventually auctioned off on Ebay, with the proceeds going to the families of 9/11. A very noble cause indeed.

After nearly three weeks away, we drove the rental van across the US, back east to home. We'd been in constant contact with my parents in Ohio, since the tragedy was a confusing, scary time for us all. Our trip wasn't joyous or fun (who could have fun after experiencing such a major loss of innocent, good people?) This trip was more a study of humanity as we'd seen so many people out and about as we drove, showing flags, displaying them on cars and shirts, and everyone seemed to be more open with one another. We talked to others in restaurants about the tragedy more than we ever would've previously, as everyone was grieving together. An interesting lesson in human psychology, more or less.