Tuesday, September 11, 2012

year 11 .

11 years ago was September 11th, 2001. Each year, new things are uncovered and the wounds sort of reopen for me as it is just so hard to relive through that experience. Now last year, I gave my story of exactly what I was doing that day. But every year, new things happen that just touch me. This year, as I was sitting in one of the student centers on campus, even ESPN was playing things to remember that day. I learned of the story of Welles Crowther, who was a 24 year old volunteer firefighter working in one of the buildings when the attacks happened.

Welles worked on the 104th floor of the South Tower for Sandler O'Neill and Partners. One of the things he was known for was a red bandana he carried with him always (his father habitually carried a blue one of the same nature).

When the buildings were hit, Welles sprung into action. You can chalk it up to him being a firefighter and used to pressure situations, or maybe he just wasn't afraid somehow. But he began making his way around to people and directing them towards a stairway he had found. These people were on the ground, hurt, lost, not knowing what to do. They all describe it now as a just seeing a man with a red bandana coming through the smoke, and he is credited with directly saving 12 people's lives.

They are eternally in his debt.

It is the things like this story, that we can hold on to. It is stories like this that we use to try to cover up the pain, the hurt, the anguish. I struggle to get through this day every year without tears. I end up watching lots of Youtube videos about that day, and the pictures are like something out of a horror film. There are so many disturbing images of the second plane hitting, sirens blaring, cops running but staring up in awe, unsure of what to even do. Fire engines flying through the city and people running and screaming. The two hardest things for me to watch are people falling out of the windows, and those running from the giant wall of smoke and debris when the buildings collapsed.

At the end of the day, I suppose we can say that there is some sort of silver lining. Though many innocent people died, it brought our country together like nothing else could. We still mourn just as hard, 11 years later. The memories will always hurt, and the pain won't ever subside. But life continues on. The best thing to do is remember, to embrace each other and mourn together, and pray for those who lost their lives on that day.

Welles Crowther, American Hero
05.17.77 - 09.11.01


  1. this is really well put, and is a great summation of how I think we're all feeling today.

    1. Thanks E. I'm curious, what was it like in Canada?

    2. it's extremely well remembered here as well.

      I remember that my elementary school chose not to tell any of the students what had happened throughout the day, so it was left to our parents to deliver the news when we got home from school. My parents were upset by the school's choice- they thought that we should have been notified as soon as it happened.

      My mom picked me up from school that day to take me to a dentist appointment, so she told me in the car. I can still remember the exact spot on the highway where we were at that moment.

      I remember in my first year at Queen's a political science prof was talking about international relations, and how 9/11 meant more to us than we probably realized. His proof of this was that when asked, every single one of us could remember exactly where we were when we heard about the tragedy- which happened at a time when we were all still Canadian children.

      I think I mourn the loss in the same way I would if I lived anywhere else, you know what I mean?

    3. Nice to hear. I think because I live an hour from the city, it hit me incredibly hard. Still does, each year. And it has a habit of sneaking up on you too. It's September 10th, and then bam. I am the same way -- I remember everything vividly.

      I was in 5th grade at the time and they rushed us all home and had someone walk us to the door to make sure someone was home. There was rumor that there was a plane crash, but we didn't know anything until we got home. My mom was already in tears, the tv on, Tower 1 sitting there smoking.

      As I get older, it gets harder to pass through this day every year. I guess that just comes with maturity, understanding the scale of what happened and the number of people involved in so many ways. Often we all forgot about the crash at the Pentagon, and Flight 93 going down in Pennsylvania while headed toward D.C. for the capital.

      I think I would mourn, but perhaps not in the same way. I think it means a lot more to me to have attended funerals and wakes with no body, because people's parents were in the Tower and never found. I lived through friends who held onto strands of hope that their parent was still alive (only declared missing originally) that slowly washed away with the waters of time. That wasn't easy. It was hard to wrap my head around back then. But every year, more things flood back, and I hope that we are a better country for it. And that's all that we can do. I'm planning on visiting the memorial this winter.


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