Trauma Lessons From 9/11 On This Anniversary

What’s the image you remember most from this awful day that changed us, forever?

 

It’s become common on 9/11 anniversaries (& I’ve done it as well), to post pics of the strong towers as they once stood…or the light beams we now show in their place, & post phrases like “Never Forget.” We also, appropriately, honor those we lost, the fam & friends of those we lost, & the many first responders (from all over the world), who risked & even gave their lives for others.

 

Why this pic though, & why the question abt the scene you remember the most? Bc as our friend Royce White aptly said a while ago – he watched it on TV, from another state, & the trauma still haunts him. This was an event, no matter where you were, that’s affected you. How do images like these make you feel? Do you still get a pit in your stomach? I know now, I STILL, 18 yrs later, have work to do related to this event, bc of the emotional charge I get when seeing this particular pic. Here was my experience on that day:

 

I’d started my 1st job at the @nba League Office in mid-July of 2001. Took a subway each day to work, & would walk w couple of avenues to 645 5th Avenue, 17th floor. Our office floor was designed so that the desks/offices were all on the perimeter, next to windows that spread the length of the walls. My desk, & that of my first boss, Mark Tatum (now deputy commissioner of the league), faced down 5th Avenue – straight shot to the Towers.

 

When I came in on 9/11/01, I was still a newbie. I must’ve been heading up the elevator as the first plane hit the north tower. As I got to the area where Mark & I sat, he was watching the news of the first plane hitting, on a tv that came down from the ceiling. We could watch the TV & look live at the Towers simultaneously outside our large window. I remember Mark telling me – someone had “mistakenly” flown a plane into one of the Towers. Alarm bells went off as – this was the biggest/most famous building in our country. A mistake into THAT building didn’t seem right. We continued watching & were looking at the TV. We saw the 2nd plane come into view & as we did, we switched focus to the window view &, live, watched the 2nd plane crash into the south tower. Immediately we knew this wasn’t a mistake. The head of our floor, Heidi Ueberroth, the daughter of baseball’s once commissioner, ordered us all to go into the media lounge, where there was room for all staff to gather.

 

There was a wall of about 15 TVs & we all sat there, w all the different new stations on, focusing on different reports from each, as we learned our nation was under attack. This was early in the cell phone era, & ppl in my office w friends & fam who lived/worked even closer to downtown were freaking out (myself included), bc cell service was down, & we couldn’t get in touch to find out if loved ones were ok.

 

As news continued to break, we were told to stay in the media lounge so that we could be communicated w about decisions on whether it’d be safe to leave that day/night. Nonetheless, I snuck back to my desk/to look out the window.

 

This is where the 2nd scene will never leave my memory. I watched, out the window, clearest day I can remember, as the 1st Tower began to collapse. It was a scene from an Armageddon movie, playing right out in front of my eyes…& as the Tower began to crumble, I could hear a collection of shrieks coming from the media lounge. It was at that point we all knew – thousands of lives would be lost, damage would be immense, & our skyline – known for its strength, would never look the same.

 

There’s a lot more to that day. Being the youngest, a “leader” in the floor who will remain

 

nameless, sent me & the other youngest guy on the floor, to walk down the stairs & to Grand Central Station (prob not the safest place to visit), to check if trains would be running out of the city. The doors were locked & we proceeded back to the office. We were finally let out, as an office, as HR made sure that everyone who didn’t live in the city, would be able to stay at at coworker’s place. I remember walking back to my apt, how surreal it was, as mounds & mounds of NYers lined the biggest avenues in the city, walking like herds, together. And we were – together. If there’s one thing that came out of that horrific event – it was the way ppl pulled together for the next 3 or so months.

 

Ppl would let you walk in front of their cars w/o honking, no one was in a crazy rush, ppl would help each other w bags. So many would volunteer down by where the Towers stood. Yet still the next few days as we watched on TV, we knew, while NYers were coming together, our world & way of life would never be the same. All I ask from this post, as Royce pointed out, is that you consider the trauma from witnessing that event, regardless of where you were…& the trauma of any event from your past. These things STAY w us, until we work them out. I’ve still got some work to do from 9/11. Maybe you do too? Much love to all the brave men & women & all those lost, on this anniversary.

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