The calendar makes it impossible for me to write my usual Transformation Tuesday post. It’s hard to analyze the daily struggles and little victories of the past week as I continue to prepare for the Brooklyn Grand Prix. Instead, I find myself overwhelmed yet again with the eternally vivid memories of the day that changed the world forever. It seems impossible that tomorrow will mark 18 years since the heartbreaking events of September 11, 2001. Despite the passage of time, each year this date creeps up on so many of us like it all just happened yesterday.
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. 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.
In that age before Facebook and Instagram, many of my friends tried to reach me on my cell phone – when the circuits weren’t jammed – 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. I learned later that several of those people being searched for were indeed gone. In the days that followed, I also learned a friend and former News 12 Long Island colleague, Glen Pettit, was killed. A videographer and 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 couldn’t keep Americans flags on the shelves and random acts of kindness were reported everywhere. Eighteen years later, I realize my three Goddaughters – all born after that fateful day – have probably 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 views on everything from politics to fashion. Honestly, 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 the destruction in the Bahamas caused by Hurricane Dorian. Meanwhile, despite more acts of senseless violence, we’re no closer on this anniversary than the last to resolving volatile issues in our country including gun control. With the 2020 campaign looming closer, I fear our divisiveness will only get worse. What a mess.
As we commemorate another September 11th this week, let us all stop and pray for all those lost on this day 18 years ago. Let us also honor their memory by remembering the power of love and compassion.
God Bless America.