As I sat on my front step enjoying a cup of tea with my husband on Sept. 11, 2001, I remember thinking how beautiful the sky looked. The color was a perfect shade of light blue, the sun was shining bright and there was not a cloud to be seen. We had just finished going for a walk with our then 2-year-old daughter and were chatting and laughing with a few neighbors. With summer slowly ending, the school year had resumed and my son returned to Jonas E. Salk Middle School for his final year as an eighth grade student.
That perfect day would drastically change in a matter of minutes. My husband, then a NYPD detective, received a phone call from his sergeant. I will never forget the look in his eyes as he glanced at me and went into the house to take the call. I knew something was wrong, and I remember thinking I had hoped a cop had not been injured. Seconds later he returned to our small group, and informed us that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers in NYC, and terrorist activity was suspected. No one said a word for a minute, as the disbelief and shock settled in. “I have to go in, my boss is picking me up any second,” he said. We followed him into the house and immediately turned on the television.
In minutes, my husband’s boss pulled up. News stations began to report that a second plane had hit the other tower. My husband turned to us, kissed our daughter, then gave me a hug and a kiss and said “I’ll call you when I can.” I felt my head spin, everything was happening so fast. How could this be happening? Just 15 minutes earlier we were enjoying a beautiful September morning. Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by neighbors who were crying and yelling “Be careful!” to my husband as the car quickly sped off.
I sat glued to the television for hours. I watched as the towers fell. I watched and listened to news reporter’s panicked voices. I watched and saw people running through the streets of New York, looking for a way to escape, shocked and covered in soot. I remember thinking as these people were attempting to run out of the city, my husband, his team and the rest of the NYPD ran in. I watched and viewed countless FDNY trucks rushing to the devastating scene. I watched, and I prayed.
I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of fear as I wondered if more attacks were coming. Unsure of what the future would hold, I grabbed my car keys, put my daughter in the car seat and went to pick up my son from school. I was not surprised to see that other parents were also there for the same reason.
As the day went on, I waited to hear from my husband. Each time the phone would ring my heart would race, as I hoped to hear his voice on the other. Finally, at some point that night, he called. I will never forget the devastation I heard in his voice. He would go on to work 20-hour tours for weeks. He would come home smelling like an ash tray, even though he showered and changed his clothes at work.
A few years ago, my husband retired from the NYPD. I am thankful every day that he was not a casualty of the senseless, cowardly acts that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001. That fateful September day will affect millions of people forever, and 10 years later, a country still mourns.