World Trade Center

REMEMBERING 9/11 –A LOS ANGELES PERSPECTIVE

September 11, 2001, as other world-shaking events, seems like only yesterday. Perhaps because the media makes sure we don’t forget our 21st century Pearl Harbor. Being suddenly attacked, as an individual or as a country, is a difficult trauma to face and overcome in life, and some never do adjust. “Where were you on 9/11?” is a more current version of, “Where were you when JFK was shot?” We all share the tragedy, whether it’s one person or nearly 3,000.

My daughter, Heidi, and I were sharing an apartment in Sherman Oaks, California, that September Tuesday morning, which began in a typical fashion. Heidi was out for an invigorating walk before going to work for a downtown Los Angeles attorney service. At 7:30 a.m., I had spread my exercise mat in front of the TV and turned it on to watch Good Morning America before I had breakfast and started work editing a book. I was sitting on the floor when I saw the footage on the planes striking both the north and south tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. It was so shocking I couldn’t absorb it; I was impatient to share the news with Heidi before I broke down completely. Human instinct propels us to turn to others.

World Trade Center before the disaster

A couple of days later, I wrote in my diary, “It was unfathomable to most of us—resembling an especially bad special effect from an action movie, but played hundreds of times over and over.”

That morning I was mesmerized and horrified as I listened and watched the news, which eventually grew to include the Pentagon disaster and the plane that went down in Pennsylvania. Heidi returned from her walk totally ignorant; it was still early and many neighbors were getting ready for work and school.  As I filled her in, we watched the continuous replays and news. A good friend of hers soon called and advised her to stay home from work. At that time one of the hijacked planes was supposedly headed for LA—the one that crash landed in the field in Shanksville, thanks to passengers who fought back.

Because of all the uncertainties, downtown Los Angeles was literally shut down. The terrorists had hijacked planes flying to LA because they would have the highest amount of volatile jet fuel to act as a bomb. Airports around the country were soon shut down because of potential danger.

Suzi, a friend of Heidi’s who worked in the travel industry, had driven to work in Culver City and wondered why the 405 freeway was so empty until she heard the news on her car radio.

It was a strange quiet day of little traffic and no sounds of planes: very unusual because we lived fairly close to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. Many of us felt lost, at loose ends. It was a time of getting in touch with friends and family and watching TV for more news and the scenes of horror over and over again. Shopping centers and businesses closed down all over LA. The scene, the mood, resembled a California earthquake disaster without the physical damage. In this case the damage was emotional.

In our immediate neighborhood of single-family homes, apartment buildings, a strip mall and a supermarket, most of the businesses stayed open. It was comforting for Heidi and I to walk the short distance to the little pizza parlor in the strip mall. People shared stories and observations with each other as we ordered Italian food and watched the small TV, playing nothing but World Trade Center news. It was a day full of tears and tissues.

9/11  WTC Memorial before it opened.

  A year after the disaster, Una, a friend from Northern California, visited Manhattan and walked down to the site. “I was overwhelmed with grief at seeing the gaping hole, this open wound on the heart of America, still raw, so vulnerable.  Walking by the small church next door, posters and photos of missing loved ones were still attached to the fence.  It was a heart-wrenching sight to read each plea for help in finding a loved one.  The wind whipped up, creating a dusty whirlwind of the ashes and dust in the hole.  I wondered whose ashes were being resifted.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN FURTHER REMEMBRANCE – 9/11

During the 9/11 disaster and afterward, Los Angeles residents wanted to feel connected to those suffering from the physical effects of losing loved ones. We talked about the horror, gave each other knowing looks. Signs appeared on neighborhood telephone poles to place lighted candles at certain locations by a specific time. Cars driving by these spots would honk in sympathy if drivers saw anyone on the sidewalk. American flags were being sold at gas stations on the major streets and boulevards all over LA. Drivers placed them on their cars to show their solidarity as patriotic Americans.

The Internet was filled with patriotic messages and inspirational poems. I decided to send a brief and loving message to connect with everyone on my Email list and had a wonderful response. All of us wanted to get in touch and keep in touch, as we called family and friends. All around LA there were prayer vigils and religious services scheduled.

One of the Memorial Fountains

 

I was fortunate I lost no one I knew in the tragedy. When the California victims of the disaster were announced, I took particular note of the death of the Emmy award-winning producer of TV’s “Frasier,” one of my favorite shows. He and his wife were on one of the planes and had been heading home to LA. Particularly poignant was their last name—Angell. Although I wasn’t positive of its pronunciation, I decided it must be angel.

One friend shared the experience of her son, a singer in a rock band who had been in New York City for the MTV awards. The group was in their hotel room a mile from the World Trade Center and heard each of the planes flying low toward their targets and then the terrific explosions when they hit the towers. Another friend, whose son was living in Brooklyn, told me how devastated he felt as he watched the constant paper debris from the World Trade Center buildings blowing over the river and all over Brooklyn. It was difficult for all of us to comprehend, much less deal with the emotional weight of what had happened.

I noted in my diary that there was already talk of war, and I hoped it would be a small one. I wrote, “Now we will suffer losses of much of our freedom when it comes to travel. There will be heightened security measures – no accompanying passengers to boarding areas, no private cars, no curbside check-in, lots of baggage search, long lines, hours to spend at the airport – all to guarantee safety, or so they hope.”

One of the highlights of those days was a telethon broadcast on September 21 featuring Neil Young singing John Lennon’s very moving “Imagine,”  Celine Dion belting out “God Bless America,” and Paul Simon performing his “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” Even Willie Nelson participated with all the verses from “America the Beautiful.”

A year after the disaster, Una, a friend from Northern California, visited Manhattan and walked down to the site. “I was overwhelmed with grief at seeing the gaping hole, this open wound on the heart of America, still raw, so vulnerable.  Walking by the small church next door, posters and photos of missing loved ones were still attached to the fence.  It was a heart-wrenching sight to read each plea for help in finding a loved one.  The wind whipped up, creating a dusty whirlwind of the ashes and dust in the hole.  I wondered whose ashes were being resifted.”

It took ten years but the resulting memorial is worth the wait.

 

Victoria Giraud   

 Author of Kindle Books for sale in the near future:                                                            

Melaynie’s Masquerade

16th century historical fiction – Disguised as a cabin

boy, Melaynie Morgan ships off with Francis Drake

to the Caribbean in search of Spanish treasure

 

Mama Liked Army Men

A Tale of Two Fathers

The perils of military life

Shores of Tripoli

Memories of Libya in the 1950s

Personal history

 

Weird Dates & Strange Mates

Non-fiction with names changed to

Protect the innocent or not…

                                             

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                      

THE DAY THE TOWERS COLLAPSED

September 11, 2001, as other world-shaking events, seems like only yesterday. Perhaps because the media makes sure we don’t forget our 21st century Pearl Harbor. Being suddenly attacked, as an individual or as a country, is a difficult trauma to face and overcome in life, and some never do adjust. “Where were you on 9/11?” is a more current version of, “Where were you when JFK was shot?” We all share the tragedy, whether it’s one person or nearly 3,000.

My daughter, Heidi, and I were sharing an apartment in Sherman Oaks, California, that September Tuesday morning, which began in a typical fashion. Heidi was out for an invigorating walk before going to work for a downtown Los Angeles attorney service. At 7:30 a.m., I had spread my exercise mat in front of the TV and turned it on to watch Good Morning America before I had breakfast and started work editing a book. I was sitting on the floor when I saw the footage on the planes striking both the north and south tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. It was so shocking I couldn’t absorb it; I was impatient to share the news with Heidi before I broke down completely. Human instinct propels us to turn to others.

World Trade Center before the disaster

A couple of days later, I wrote in my diary, “It was unfathomable to most of us—resembling an especially bad special effect from an action movie, but played hundreds of times over and over.”

That morning I was mesmerized and horrified as I listened and watched the news, which eventually grew to include the Pentagon disaster and the plane that went down in Pennsylvania. Heidi returned from her walk totally ignorant; it was still early and many neighbors were getting ready for work and school.  As I filled her in, we watched the continuous replays and news. A good friend of hers soon called and advised her to stay home from work. At that time one of the hijacked planes was supposedly headed for LA—the one that landed in the field in Shanksville, thanks to passengers who fought back.

Because of all the uncertainties, downtown Los Angeles was literally shut down. The terrorists had hijacked planes flying to LA because they would have the highest amount of volatile jet fuel to act as a bomb. Airports around the country were soon shut down because of potential danger.

Suzi, a friend of Heidi’s who worked in the travel industry, had driven to work in Culver City and wondered why the freeway was so empty until she heard the news on her car radio.

It was a strange quiet day of little traffic and no sounds of planes (we were not far from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank). Many of us felt lost, at loose ends. It was a time of getting in touch with friends and family and watching TV for more news and the scenes of horror over and over again. Shopping centers and businesses closed down all over LA. The scene, the mood, resembled a California earthquake disaster without the physical damage. In this case the damage was emotional.

In our immediate neighborhood of single-family homes, apartment buildings, a strip mall and a supermarket, most of the businesses stayed open. It was comforting for Heidi and I to walk the short distance to the little pizza parlor in the strip mall. People shared stories and observations with each other as we ordered Italian food and watched the small TV, playing nothing but World Trade Center news. It was a day full of tears and tissues.

Soon-to-open 9/11 Memorial

To be continued on Sunday, 9/ll.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victoria Giraud

Author – Melaynie’s Masquerade

listed on Amazon books

 

Editor – 85 books in all genres

Blogger – Words on My Mind

Publishing soon –  Mama Loved Army Men,

                                     A Tale of Two Fathers

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