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9/11: 16 Years Later

It is nothing short of impossible to believe it’s been 16 years since the world changed forever. 

No matter how much time has passed since September 11, 2001, the memories that flood my mind each year at this time remain as vivid as if the tragic events happened yesterday. As many of my longtime readers know, I was a reporter at News 12 Connecticut on that crisp, sunny morning. While it’s been 12 years since I left the world of broadcast news behind, on this day I find myself reminded of the panic and urgency in the newsroom as we went out to cover a developing story that none of us could comprehend ourselves.

There were countless interviews and live shots with people waiting to learn the fate of loved ones who worked in the World Trade Center. There were stories from the people who did make it home, stepping off of trains with ash on their clothes and shock on their faces after witnessing the horror in lower Manhattan. In between the live reports, I also remember making and receiving panicked phone calls and texts. In a pre-Facebook world, there was no other way to try to check on the whereabouts of family and friends who lived or worked anywhere near Ground Zero or the Pentagon. In the days that followed, I remember learning one of my friends and former colleagues was gone. Glen was one of too many people taken from this world so viciously and long before their time.

Amidst the sadness and confusion, there were also stories of how Americans came together to help each other ease the pain. Sales of American flags skyrocketed and random acts of kindness could be witnessed everywhere. Then I think of the state of our nation today, and it makes me want to cry all over again.

Anyone who reads this blog or follows me on social media knows I have never, ever been political. I certainly don’t intend to start now. However, I will say this: I hope we start doing a better job when it comes to showing compassion and treating others the way we want to be treated. As we mark another 9/11 anniversary, people of all ages, races and creeds in Florida and the Caribbean are reeling from the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma. Our neighbors in Texas continue their struggle in the wake of disaster caused by Hurricane Harvey. And this storm season isn’t over yet. Before the hurricanes hit, we saw never-ending news coverage about people around the country arguing about whether statues should remain standing or if movies like Gone with the Wind should be banned. Meanwhile, we are faced with volatile situations ranging from our relationship with North Korea to the status of the healthcare system. Let’s face it: Things are just a mess. 

On this September 11th, as we all stop and pray for all those lost on this day 16 years ago, let us also honor their memory by remembering the power of love and compassion.

God Bless America. 

 

 

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9/11: 15 Years Later

img_2647I hope you’ll forgive this diversion from my weekly dose of Monday Motivation. It’s hard for me to write about healthy snacks or fitting fitness into your back-to-school schedule when my mind has been flooded with memories of the day that changed our world forever. At some point this past week, I simply lost count of how many times I uttered or heard the phrase “I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since 9/11.”

Time may march on, but each year the memories are just as vivid as they were on that bright, beautiful day in 2001. I remember the shock, the silence and then the chaos that erupted in the News 12 Connecticut newsroom where I worked as a reporter at the time. I remember the nonstop news coverage and the countless live shots from the Fairfield train station. That’s where a triage team waited to treat injured survivors – only to look more and more despondent with each passing hour that none arrived. It’s also where I interviewed people with dust on their clothes, still in shock from what they had escaped in lower Manhattan. I remember calling my parents to tell them how much I loved them. And I remember the phone calls I received from panicked friends who wondered if I had any information about people working in the World Trade Center.

In the days that followed, I met too many people who lost people they loved. I learned Glen Pettit, one of my News 12 Long Island colleagues and a NYPD officer, was killed. I held back tears while interviewing people who held on to the hope a son, daughter, husband or wife would return home. I held back tears while speaking with members of the Stamford fire department who wanted to do more to help their brothers in the city. In the fleeting moments when I was alone, I let the tears flow freely. Yet in the midst of the sadness, fear, anger and confusion, I also remember people treating each other with kindness and banding together in a way I’d never seen before. Quite frankly, I haven’t seen it since.

Yankee Stadium: 15 Years Later

Yankee Stadium: 15 Years Later

Fifteen years later, I found solace going to Mass before taking the subway to Yankee Stadium. I originally felt somewhat guilty accepting the tickets my Dad offered for this game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. However, I came to realize doing something I loved on a sunny Sunday afternoon was a testament to the fact that our American way of life survived that terrible day. It turns out, the Devil Rays were the team the Yankees played two weeks after 9/11 as the nation tried to return to some semblance of normalcy, which included resuming the season for America’s pastime.

Before the start of yesterday’s game, with tears in my eyes and pride swelling in my chest, I witnessed a moving ceremony featuring the booming sounds of the NYPD Emerald Society’s Pipe and Drum Corps. I watched Yankees manager Joe Girardi shake the hands of wounded veterans from Walter Reed Hospital who were honored in front of home plate. I listened to the powerful voice of firefighter Frank Pizzaro as he belted out our national anthem while New York City’s bravest unfolded an American flag in center field beside the Port Authority Police Department’s Color Guard. I cried, I applauded and then as I cheered for the Yankees through what turned out to be a loss, I thought: the human spirit is a truly amazing thing. And it is in times of sorrow and struggle that banding together makes us stronger than standing alone. So in the company of that packed stadium, I found another way to honor the promise made 15 years ago…we will never forget.

God Bless America.

 

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