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Welcome to my world - mostly the fabric world that I escape to whenever I have time. Hope you enjoy it and please feel free to comment.....

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you?

I remember exactly where I was when I first heard about the A plane going into the WTC. I had just come out of Kohl’s in Norwalk, Connecticut and was heading to my car when my husband called me. He was at work in Wilton, CT.  He said apparently some light aircraft had flown into one of the towers of the WTC.  I was an Air Traffic Controller in the Aussie Air Force my younger days so immediately I started thinking of all the mistakes a pilot had to make for a flight to go so terribly wrong.  I was amazed.

I went home and turned on the TV and sat transfixed for the rest of the day. At that stage we lived in a quiet little cul-de-sac in Stamford Connecticut. The cul-de-sac led down to a little private beach front.  It wasn't much but from the beach, at night, you could look across the water and see the lights of Manhattan 40 miles away.

My boys were at kindergarten. When I went to collect them I was a little dismayed to see that one of them was one of only four kids left in his class - all the others had been collected early. The other son’s class had had kids leave early too but not so many. I had wanted to keep things as normal as possible for my boys so I didn't want to tell them too much.

On the way home I stopped in the street to talk to a neighbour. We hadn't been living there long so didn't know everyone terribly well but that day you stopped and checked that everyone was ok. She was fine. Her husband should have been at work in one of the towers but that day he was in Dallas for a meeting!!!

In the end I had to tell my kids something. I didn't want them to know that aircraft were involved as their dad had to fly regularly for work. Also, this was September and in the December we were booked to fly from NY to LA and then LA to Sydney and I didn't want them to be afraid. I was afraid enough for all of us! I told them that a nasty man had blown up the WTC and that it had fallen down.

I had to keep them away from any but the kids’ channels on TV. I couldn't take them into COSTCO coz all the huge TVs were tuned to the news and the images were too graphic. I didn't want the boys to see them. I couldn't take them to the supermarket coz of all the pictures on magazine covers. I actually managed to keep them unaware of the involvement of aircraft for a number of years, until I thought they were old enough to deal with it and not be afraid.  I didn’t take them back to the beach at the end of the street as from there you could see the smoke from the towers.

Like everyone in the States at that time I was just stunned.  It was bad enough hearing about all those who died, seeing the images of the relatives who turned up to search for their loved ones, and hearing all the stories but there was also the uncertainty.  Would there be more attacks and, if so, where.  

We were leaving the States at the end of the year to move back to Oz.  I hadn’t wanted to leave.  I will always be an Aussie but I was enjoying living in the States and hadn’t been ready to give it up.  That changed that day.  I just wanted to get home.  We had booked tickets for The Radio City Christmas Spectacular on the 23rd of December.  On the 24th we were booked to fly to LA.  We had planned to spend Christmas Day in Disneyland and we were going to be home in Sydney shortly after. 

We lost confidence.  At that stage no one knew what the future held and with two little boys I didn’t want to take the risk.  We gave away our tickets to Radio City and flew home ten days early on December 14th.

But back to September.  The world changed that day and we all know it and we all know how.  But the one thing that I took away from the aftermath of 911 with me was the way America reacted.  I don’t mean the government or the military.  I mean the ordinary people.  Every day flags appeared in new places.  People refused to be beaten.  The stars and stripes were painted on houses and shop fronts.  People brought out their patriotic T shirts, dresses and pullovers and wore them with proud defiance.    It was wonderful.  I had always flown an Aussie flag out the front of our house.  Now I flew an American one too.  Stangers were nicer to each other.  The country seemed to band together.  I was so proud of America and so glad that I was there to see it.

This week I don’t want to watch all the commemorative shows on TV.  I don’t want to relive what I vividly remember from the first time.  I don’t want to spend the whole week in tears being moved by the stories and the memories.  But I don’t need to as I will never forget.  I still can’t talk about it without my voice shaking and tears threatening.  The boys said they talked about it in English the other day.  They didn’t even remember being in the States at the time.  I am glad.  That means they don’t remember the sadness and the fear.  We told them some of what we experienced and explained some of what we did to protect them but I could see that they didn’t really understand and that is fine.

I am not sure how to end this post.  I wasn’t planning to write it but I just felt I had to.  You will never hear me complain about tightened security at the airport or anywhere for that matter.  I hope the world never forgets what 911 means and stands for.  Just as we don’t want to forget what caused and came from both World Wars, there are lessons to be learned from 911.  I wish some people in this world would learn them a little quicker!

I promise my next post will be a little cheerier.

Now I am going to do some Happy stitching!


  1. I was woken by my husband coming off night shift to tell me what had happened. They had all but stopped production to listen to the events as they occurred. I have friends who lost friends and am inspired by the comraderie of people around the world in response to the terror. Even living in Australia we are not immune.

  2. What a beautiful heartfelt post Jan Maree, you were so close to N.Y. That was such an uncertain time for all of us, I commend you for sheltering your young boys so that they did not have those terrible images burned into their memories.

  3. Jan-Maree I love your post. It is very heart warming. I remember where I was, I was working for another dentist in Sugar Land. And I will never forget the tears when we first heard about it. Such a tragedy. My heart and my prayers go out to all the loved ones.

  4. I am amazed at how well you shielded your boys. The TV programs here in Tokyo were full of shots over and over and over again for weeks.
    Today is also the 6-month anniversary of the quake and tsunami and TV is full of that as well. I do wonder about the effect of those who took their kids and ran, leaving pets and everything behind.


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