Today, the old saying “time heals all wounds” is nothing short of senseless. Some might even call it offensive. Seventeen years after the day that changed the world as we know it forever, it’s impossible to imagine anyone who lost a loved one on 9/11 not experiencing sadness and pain.
No matter how much time passes, I am simply overwhelmed each year by the all-too vivid memories of what started out as a crisp and clear picture-perfect day here in New York City. As my longtime readers know, back then I was working as a reporter at News 12 Connecticut. My colleagues and I watched the newsroom’s multiple TV screens in horror as the second plane hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center. That moment when we realized it wasn’t an accident was the first and only time I can remember a newsroom being completely silent. Then, in what seemed like a blurred frenzy, our assistant news director shifted into auto-pilot and sent us out into the field with videographers and live trucks. There were no lessons from my journalism classes at Northwestern or past experiences as a reporter that could have prepared me for that unfathomable day. Before leaving the newsroom, I left a message on my parents’ answering machine telling them how much I loved them.
I don’t remember how many live shots I did that day or how many people I interviewed. I do remember the faces of the medical team anxiously waiting to treat injured survivors; the tearful embrace between an ash-covered man and the woman waiting for him on the platform; and all the cars that remained in the parking lot as midnight approached. I wondered how many people would never return to claim them.
In that pre-Facebook world, many of my friends tried to reach me on my cell phone – when the circuits weren’t down or busy – to see if I could help find any information about a loved one who worked in the city. Receiving those messages in between countless live reports broke my heart, and I’d learn later that several of those people being searched for were indeed gone. In the days that followed, I also learned a former friend and News 12 Long Island colleague, Glen Pettit, was killed. A talented videographer, Glen was also a NYPD officer. He was last seen with his camera on his shoulder running toward the towers to capture footage. Glen was 30 years old.
Along with the sadness, shock and anger felt around the country after the attacks, I also remember another unprecedented turn of events. Stores were selling out of Americans flags and random acts of kindness were reported everywhere. Seventeen years later, I realize all three of my Goddaughters – all born after that fateful day – never witnessed that kind of unity in the country they call home. Today, they see social media feeds where bullying takes on a whole new level as people lash out at others who don’t share their beliefs. Simply put, when I think about the state of our world today, it makes me want to cry all over again.
Never one to be political in this blog or on my social media channels, I can’t help write about what’s in my heart. As we mark another 9/11 anniversary, we’re bombarded with headlines surrounding the latest discord in Washington and looming disasters as hurricane season continues. We also continue to struggle with volatile issues ranging from gun control to the cost of healthcare. We even post scathing, combative messages for all the world to see about everything from Nike’s choice of a spokesperson to Serena Williams’ loss at the U.S. Open. What a mess.
On this September 11th, as we all stop and pray for all those lost on this day 17 years ago, let us also honor their memory by remembering the power of love and compassion.
God Bless America.
So, I started the week completely aware I’d be traveling to Texas for my first business trip of the New Year. However, I was completely unaware of what would happen when I landed in Dallas.
Not all of it was bad, but as it happens with any spontaneous occurrence, some of my best laid plans flew right out the window. In this case, those plans involved my fitting some fitness into my overnight jaunt…and they evaporated right through the rain-soaked windows of my rental car.
Basically, Mother Nature and road work put the brakes on my plans to head directly to the fitness center after checking in but before having dinner with my dear friend Jeanne Marie. What should have been a 15-minute drive from DFW to the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine quickly turned into a navigational nightmare with no apparent end in sight. My car’s GPS system kept looping me back to the same highway closure that sent me on a detour in the first place. As each minute ticked toward and beyond 5 p.m., the rain drops pounded more powerfully against the windshield and the sky grew a bit darker. After my third unsuccessful loop, I stopped at a red light where I tried to re-group. If it wasn’t for a very kind Texan named Troy, I might still be sitting there.
I was about to call the hotel’s front desk and ask someone to stay on the line with me as I drove to an alternate route when a black pickup pulled up alongside me. I asked the driver to roll down his window, hoping he could simply point me toward the right direction for an alternate route. Maybe it was my I’m-not-from-around-here accent or the harried look on my face, but Troy went above and beyond any expectation. He hopped out of his truck and into the rain to better hear me shout out from my window where I needed to go. Then he simply said “follow me, ” hopped back in to his pickup and lead me exactly where I needed to go. Thanks to some rush hour traffic and yet another road closure, I have no doubt Troy’s random act of kindness took longer than he planned.
As we came to the final intersection where a sign clearly pointed my hotel was only a mere left turn away, Troy got in the other lane to turn right and continue on with his original plans for the evening. Before he drove off, he got out of his truck in the rain a second time to make sure I was okay. I couldn’t say thank you enough times. If Troy ever travels to New York City, I can only hope to return the favor by helping him navigate the subways!
Maybe Mother Nature thought I needed a break from the elliptical machine. Or maybe she thought I needed a reminder that there are still friendly people out there willing to go out of their way (in this case, literally) to help someone out. While it may not provide the same cardio rush as the run you go on to have fun and be fit, I’d say lending a helping hand is a surefire way to make yourself and someone else feel fabulous!