Before I had children and became a stay-at-home-mom, I used to fly in airplanes quite a bit. Between visits to my family in Wisconsin and business trips¸ I probably flew an average of 4 times per month. Most of the time I flew in and out of Newark Airport. Every time we began our final descent, I would look out the window so I could see the NYC skyline. The World Trade Center Towers were always a prominent sight- day or night.
On one particular trip back from Wisconsin, while looking at the NYC skyline, I remember thinking how NJ/NY had now become home to me- not Wisconsin, where I was born and raised, and where my family remains to this day. I then saw the towers and realized they had become for me a symbolic lighthouse- a beacon- guiding me back home.
I do not personally know anyone who died on 9/11. I was not even in Manhattan that day; I was on a business trip in Switzerland. Due to the initial flight groundings, and a graciously cautious employer, I did not fly home until September 17th. Security on that day was very tight. At the airport in Switzerland, I waited in a long line as all carry on baggage was fully inspected. We were given plastic silverware on the plane and no knives. Everyone was tense on the plane.
Once I heard the captain announce our final descent, I started to breathe a sigh of relief. I looked out the window- automatically looking for the towers, but all I saw was a giant cloud of smoke. Around me, I heard people gasp in shock. It was one thing for us to see images on television, but quite another to see it in person.
The next day when I returned to work, and for a while after, I saw pictures of missing persons posted on street corners and the subway. The air had a burning smell and smoke was visible over downtown Manhattan. That October, I volunteered with the Red Cross by preparing and serving lunch to the firemen and other personnel who were working at ground zero. We were told most of the people searching the wreckage worked 12 hour shifts, slept in recliners in the hotel and then returned to begin another shift. I will never forget the dedication of all those people who worked there.
Today is the 11th anniversary of 9/11. I have already discussed the events of that day with my eldest son, and I plan to talk to both of them about it today. Someday in the near future, we will take them to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in Manhattan (I already had the opportunity to visit the Memorial last December). We will never forget.
I do not fly as often as I used to, but when I do, I can’t help myself- I still look for those towers. I suspect I always will.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog.