Friday, September 11, 2015

My Remembrance of September 11, 2001 [Revisited]

The following is my annual repost of my personal remembrance of September 11, 2001, with slight revisions and additions. . .

Today is the day when we look at the calendar, and nearly flinch. September 11, 2001 is distant to us in many ways, but now--amazingly--for the 14th time, we've all looked at that calendar page and have been taken back to where we were that morning.

I'm republishing my personal account of what happened to me that day, written in the early days of my blog. My story is no more special than yours, I know. But on a day when the date is sure to be used by many for political purposes, I wanted to have one post up that just remembers the day.

Photo of United Airlines Las Vegas-based Flight Attendants'
memorial service at Sunset Park, September 2001
(Originally published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal)*

Posts I've made today, and earlier in this blog's short history, have discussed or are related to 9/11. I'd rather not let the day go by without giving you the reader--and me the blogger--a little more, minus the political rhetoric.

I've become a deeply cynical person, you might say, at least as it regards politics. This is particularly true lately. But on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001 I wasn't thinking about any of that. Everyone who witnessed that day has their own story. Mine is no more relevant than yours, and is surely less traumatic than many.

I awoke that morning at my usual time, somewhere between 6:30 and 6:45 am. I had finished my morning ritual, and was just buttoning up my clothes when the phone rang. It was our friend, Larry, an American Airlines flight attendant, and he was crying. "Two planes have just hit the World Trade Center," he managed between sobs. This was startling news, but not yet sufficiently alarming for me to change my routine.

I passed the phone to The Other Half, and turned on the bedroom TV. There it was, and the slight alarm turned to a sinking feeling. This was big. We quickly learned that it was both United's and American Airlines' planes that hit the buildings, causing high alarm in the room, and on the other end of the phone. The Other Half, and our next-door neighbor/friend, were [and still are] both United flight attendants. And the neighbor was on a trip at an unknown location. My heart sank, and I nearly sobbed myself--with relief--that my partner was right there in the room with me, accounted for.

Not fully realizing the impact of what had happened, I began my journey to work. I switched on the radio, and was very shortly informed that the Pentagon was on fire. They did not yet know the cause. When I pulled into the parking lot at work, the radio announcer said that a plane was believed to have crashed in Pennsylvania. There was an erroneous report about an explosion somewhere else (maybe the White House?).  I said out loud, "the sky is falling." I fully expected at that point that a wave of attacks would continue throughout the morning. Thankfully, that did not come to pass.

Shortly after my arrival at work, The Other Half called, and told me one of the towers had fallen. Not long after, we heard the same about the other. We imagined the worst, that the buildings had fallen over, smashing all below. Thankfully, again, as bad as it was, it could have been worse.

We didn't get much work done that day. Someone went home and got a TV, and we spent much of our time in front of that fuzzy little picture. Later that day, we found that most of our friends, and their colleagues were accounted for. Our neighbor was stranded in New Orleans for over a week. We had quite the celebration upon his return.

The following days were surreal. I'd never seen Las Vegas without planes in the sky, and believe me, you notice. We watched hours upon hours of TV News, of course, like everyone else. And the casinos around town knee-jerk fired lots of people. We feared for our town.

Several days later, The Other Half went to a memorial service at Sunset Park, due east of McCarran Airport, with the Las Vegas United Airlines base crew. During the service, the first plane in days landed, flying right over the park. There was a swelling of spontaneous applause, as you'd imagine.

We were very lucky. We knew people who had friends-of-friends-of-friends who died that day, but fortunately (for our little world), were spared personal losses. One friend was quite well acquainted with one of the [United 93] pilots, and we had his wife to our house, but that was the extent of our direct contact. United, of course, had a very rocky ride of it, as did American. Many of the flight attendants left town, or left aviation. Las Vegas, predictably bounced back.


Las Vegas isn't feeling very bouncy this September 11th. Tourism is down, layoffs are widespread, hours (mine included) have been cut at many jobs. United Airlines and American Airlines are seemingly always under threat of going out of business. The neighbor moved to Florida not long after September 11th. The Other Half and I were married this year, and are doing well despite job worries. Whatever happens on November fourth, I think it will bookend 9/11/2001, and hopefully all of this will seem like a bygone era.

Things in Las Vegas haven't perked up much in the last year. We have, of course, moved from the Bush Era on into the Obama Era. It remains to be seen how that will play out. I'm not a lock-step liberal by any stretch, but I'm willing to give the President time and space.


Still waiting for the economy to pick up in Las Vegas, personally and city-wide. We lead the pack for foreclosures, unemployment and several other "worst of" lists. We did place first in a "best roads" in the US story, so that's something. All of these woes are put at the feet of: a) Barack Obama, if you are a partisan conservative, b) George W. Bush, if you're a partisan liberal, c) Harry Reid, if you're Sharron Angle, or d) the snowball effect of many factors, with blame to be shared by both political parties. I'm going with the last one. But I do have to wonder what the state of the economy and the United States in general might have been like if that clear blue skied Tuesday in September 2001 had been just an ordinary day.

Wow, 10 years. There are parts of that day that seem eerily recent. And then you remember everything that has happened since. Our two (main) wars--started in the immediate aftermath of 9/11--are still going on in one form or other. The economy noted in the updates above, hasn't improved much. Las Vegas is hanging in there, but a bit beaten and battered. And as I noted in 2010, this economic pickle might have been a bit different were it not for that one day. Maybe we still would have had a housing bubble, maybe the bankers and corporate fat cats would've still been crooks. But the whole deficit/debt sideshow might've been in  much, much better shape. Ugh. I wish things were a bit rosier for the 10-year anniversary of that rotten day. Maybe the 20? Or dare I wish it, the 11th or 12th?


In my yearly updates, I see I've gotten away from "not being political." Sorry about that, but what can you do? Everything is political these days. In 2012, our household actually is better off than we were four years ago, with everything except housing values looking up. Everyone is looking toward November's election, but very little has been made this year about 9/11, other than that this year is the first (oops) second time it's happened on a Tuesday since that fateful day. Though American Airlines is in bankruptcy this year, but United seems to be doing well with its Continental merger. In good news, the Iraq War is over. Still don't know what that had to do with 9/11. And sadly, Captain Dahl's widow died this year, oddly enough at the house of a friend of ours. So, at eleven years and counting, it's kind of a mixed bag. Here's to the day when we have to think about it to remember how many years it's been.


President Obama spoke last night, on the matter of what to do about Syria. The proximity to September 11, and our botched response to it weighs heavy over the whole thing. Then again, it also informs us about overheated, foolish reactions. Also, we have to keep in mind that last year, we were attacked in Benghazi,. Hopefully this year's anniversary will go by without anything like that. This year makes a dozen years, which means we're getting well into a time where high school kids probably don't remember much about the day as it happened. Their entire worldviews are of the "post-9/11" variety.


Again, President Obama spoke last night on the matter of what to do about ISIS/ISIL in Iraq and Syria. We're not able to get out of that region it would seem, even 13 years later. And think about this: every school-aged child, and most college freshmen have spent their entire academic careers in  "post-9/11" world.


Since last year, The Other Half (who has since left United) and I have moved across the country. This is something we'd have been unable to afford to do at any other point in these updates. Which says that there has been economic improvement, at least in our household. The stock market has been rather shaky in recent weeks, but after an extended upswing, that seems inevitable. We're most of the way through the "Obama Era" now, and despite the FOX "News" doom and gloom, we seem to be better off in most ways.

* Full disclosure: photo contains an image of my husband, our friends and his co-workers.

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