9/11: Ten Years Later

Today I spent the day in the same manner as I did ten years ago: at work. I thought that it would be a fitting tribute to the ten year anniversary. At the time, I was working in commercial horticulture at a company called Medford Nursery. It was a clear sunny warm day, the kind that is perfect for plant growth.

My most enduring memory of that day is revolves around the sky. The company is located between two regional airports and is on the landing path for McGuire Air Force base. All day long, there would be the hum of light aircraft and helicopters along with the occasional deep rumble of C130’s and other large military cargo aircraft. When the FAA ordered the grounding of all aircraft, my sky went silent. Nothing above save for the wisp of passing clouds. In accordance with events of the day, it was the sudden absence of something so prevalent that was hard to ignore that stands out for me.

One of the aspects that comes into sharp focus for me is how the people I know around me (both friends and acquaintances) were affected. A pair of friends who worked for an ambulance company went up to Jersey City and Hoboken so as to triage people as they came across the river. An acquaintance who worked for the Red Cross spent the next six months up in New York City tracking over one hundred vehicles while pulling twelve hours shifts. The dad of my best friend in college was a school guidance counselor and spent the day trying to help his students get in contact in their parents. The neighbor who had worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and attended eight funerals in the following weeks. A gaming friend whose family member was on the flight crew of one of the planes. I was not hit directly by the disaster, but it had hit the people around me.

The library was quiet today, especially for a Sunday. In the ten years between. I have traded one silence for another. And before the day is out, I will take another to reflect back on all those years, all those people, and what the time has brought us. Today is a time to remember those gone and tomorrow will be a time to set the path for those yet to come. Such as it is, such as it will always be.

5 thoughts on “9/11: Ten Years Later

  1. Very insightful post.

    There’s a lot that stands out to me, but the silence overhead was an important memory. My high school was about 2 miles as-the-crow-flies from the regional airport and we were used to the heavy hum of planes zipping by. My friends and I did something unusual for lunch that day as we sat outside in the courtyard and listened to the heavy silence. We did not speak much because shock had set in and we were very afraid.

  2. Thank you for this post. I, too, recall the eerie silence from the sky and how it added to overall feelings of fear and disorientation – even here on the West Coast. On 9/11 itself – and most of its anniversaries – I spent the day on the job at a large downtown public library. On the day of the horror I initially thought the library should close, but my opinion changed upon helping a community college student who thanked us profusely for being open. His college library was closed and he said he needed to be with people that day. It made me proud that the public library was still considered a safe place.

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