My September 11th

In memory of September 11th, people around blogland are sharing their memories.


My most indelible memory of September 11th is of little boys playing Legos.  But let me back up a little.

We move slowly in the mornings at our house.  That morning we were just getting breakfast started.  Our two three year olds were watching PBS, and the big kids were just starting to wake up.

The phone rang.   It was my mother in law, sounding like she could hardly breathe.  “Turn on the TV,” she said.  “A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center.”

At that point I’m not even sure if I knew what the World Trade Center was, and I was thinking some pilot had made some terrible error.  We turned on the TV and talked for a few minutes while watching the confused coverage, then hung up.  

Minutes later we were watching still, as the plane hit the second tower.  It was dizzying to realize this was something beyond pilot error.  And then, unbelieveably, shockingly, one after another, the towers fell.

And fell.

And fell.  

All day long, courtesy of instant replay, those towers fell, over and over again.   And all day long, our TV stayed on, an event usually only reserved for the Olympics at our house.

And our little children sat, watching quietly and playing with their legos on the living room floor.   And at one point, they said, “Look, mommy, look what we built!”  

And when I could tear my eyes from the TV screen, I looked and saw that my sweet innocent 3 year olds, trying to make sense out of it all, had built two tall skinny towers of Legos, which teetered precariously.  Now the boys were now beaming proudly at me.

“Can we get our airplanes out and knock them down?”  they said.

My stomach lurched and I wanted to hold up those two skinny leaning towers made of bright plastic blocks.

And as I looked at their beaming little faces and struggled for an appropriate response, I saw the rubble of the towers just behind them in the TV, and I knew that moment that the world had changed.

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  1. I don't know why, but I still get choked up when I think/read about that day.

    My Uncle was one of the firefighters called in for the "clean-up", 12 hour shifts, horrifying stories, findings…my heart just ached for him and his friends.

    You are right, the world changed that day, and life became much more precious, and fragile.

    I think I know why it still affects me…

  2. Wow. What a post.

  3. Excellent post. Wow. I wrote too.
    Pass the Torch

  4. What a great post, Mary. Your kids and the lego towers was very striking.

  5. I never think of that day without a tear and that feeling, the one in your stomach when someting goes horribly wrong.

    I liked your post. We need to remember.

  6. That was a very powerful post. The innocence of kids and trying to grasp the situation is amazing. I am posting mine later this weekend.

  7. Exactly. As I watched events unfold that day, I knew our world had changed and that it would never be the same again. If I close my eyes, I still see those towers falling.

  8. Each of us no doubt had things unforgettably etched on our memories that day. One moment stands out above them all for me, and I'm so grateful for it:

    September 11 was the fall kick-off date for a large women's Bible study I attended. I was excitedly en route when I happened to turn on the radio and hear that a WTC tower had been hit. My first gut reaction was that someone ihad ntended to do this, that this kind of accident does not just happen, but the announcers were treating it as if it had been a terrible accident. I mulled it over as I arrived at the church in Pittsburgh's Northside, then became involved in the busyness of getting my kids to their classrooms, and settling in among the 75 or so women who were there that day. We sang a few songs of worship together, and then our teacher came up to the podium to kick off the year's teaching by introducing the theme and verse that had been carefully and prayerfully selected for the year. She had not even opened her notes when someone came into the room to pass her a note bearing news of the second plane crash. There was silence for a moment as realization sunk in for each of us, and then we just prayed intently for several minutes. The teacher had no sooner lifted her head when another note was passed to her with news of the Pentagon. Two women burst into tears and ran from the room in search of telephones– one whose husband worked for the FBI and was to have been at the Pentagon, and another who had just carefully deposited her daughter in a freshman dorm in Washington D.C. We all bowed our heads and cried out to God together for a long while. Finally, there seemed to be nothing left to do but continue with our purpose for gathering, though it didn't seem that anything could touch the feelings we were brimming with in that moment. The teacher quietly opened her folder and read the verse that had been selected for us months earlier, the one that was emblazoned on the title page of the notebooks we had each been given as we entered that morning:
    "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I wil say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." (Psalm 91:1-2)
    The words flooded the room and giant wings covered our souls with peace. No matter what men might do to our bodies, we could never be separated from God's love and sovereign authority. Of all the verses in the Bible, one had been selected for us for the year and for that morning. He had prepared a word to our hearts in advance. A few other scary moments followed that day, one being when it was announced that a plane that would not identify itself had approached Pittsburgh ( the one that subseqently went down near Shanksville), but I hung on to the sovereignty and love demonstrated to me in that one moment on one terrible day.

  9. Goosebumps. What a powerful story.

  10. I'm glad you wrote out your memories. It has inspired me to write out mine, which I will post on my blog later today. My memories are quite different because we were overseas when it happened. We did not get back to the States until the very end of October and therefore missed a lot of the patriotism that happened immediately after. For me, one of my biggest memories is having Ukrainian television finally stop trying to voice over a CNN broadcast and go to direct live feed. When President Bush came on to speak – that was the first time I had heard my presidents voice. I'll never forget that. More on the blog. Again – thank you.

  11. Wow. That was powerful. All our memories. All different yet the same.

  12. Wow. Your story brought tears. Thank you for your memories.

  13. Thank you for sharing your memories. It is neat to see how each of us felt and delt with this, along with our kids.

  14. It was so hard to just sit there and watch the destruction and not be able to do anything. I had just missed the first plane, but was horrified at watching the second plane crash. It seemed too hard to believe.

  15. thank you for sharing

  16. Wow, very chilling. I often thought back then about how I would have ever found the words if we had children, I still have trouble finding words.

  17. I wrote about my thoughts on Sept. 11th as well. Thank you for sharing yours.

  18. Reading your post something new just struck me:

    We all wanted this to be make-believe because this kind of "unthinkable" doesn't happen. It doesn't happen…it really, truly, cannot happen, right?

    But it did.

    Thanks for a different kind of post…it's one I'll remember.

  19. My son also built towers with his blocks and knocked them down with toy airplanes. It was eery, but in a way, that's just how he made sense of things. We had our TV on all day too, which wasn't something normal for us.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  20. Wonderful story. Someone else said it really well when they said we all had different memories, all different yet all the same. Thanks for sharing.

  21. I wish I had been that innocent five years ago.!!