On this tenth anniversary of the day our world changed, Band Back Together remembers the sacrifices so many made on September 11, 2001.
We celebrate the spirit that the American people possess that allowed us to learn and grow from this national tragedy.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones and those who continue to give of themselves protecting our country from those who want to cause harm to our people.
If you want to share your memories of 9/11 or how it's changed you, we will be taking submissions all month. Submit them as you normally would.
Today we Band Together to remember 9/11.
That day was one of most favorite kind of days. Those early fall days that are so clear and so crisp that every single blade of grass, every single pebble on the sidewalk stands out in laser like relief. The kind of day where the sky is bluer than it's ever been ever and the air is just so right that you want to hug it and sing The Hills Are Motherfucking Alive if only you could figure out how.
It was such a perfect day I couldn't help but take notice, even though I missed the ferry, even though I was going to be late to court. I was fuming about my lateness and frantically reviewing the case file so I could walk into court late, sure, but prepared.
I hit the ground running when we docked. Running full speed, juggling my bag and the unwieldy case files, for the 1/9 train. I crashed through the stiles and almost into some transit person hollering at me to to grab a voucher from the booth and try the much further 4/5/6/ train, something about the line being down. It couldn't have been later than 9:12 EST.
Holy fuck, echoed through my skull as I took off running over cobblestone, I am LATE. As I ran I noticed people standing in small groups, looking upwards. I thought about stopping to ask why, but I was late. But I did look up and was transfixed by a sight my eyes couldn't make sense of until later. Through the open chinks between the buildings, against the bluer than ever sky was an unending cloud of smoke and it was...sparkling. No time for mysteries, yo. Run for that train. Made it on the train. The 4. If I hadn't caught that train, the last train out of Manhattan that day, I would have walked over the Brooklyn Bridge in hazy smoke instead of watching the throngs as they crossed.
I made it to court, through security and was scoping out a seat when the alarm sounded and we were told to evacuate. In the elevator a guard said that a plane flew into a building. Corrected himself, TWO planes. Ridiculous, I thought. How could two planes fly into the same building? What are the odds?
On the street, everything was just...off. Transit was down, people were milling, there was precious little information to be had. Cell reception was impossible, the lines for the pay phones were down the block not that you could get a line out anyway. People flocked to the electronics store, listening to the radio they had playing there. A girl was weeping uncontrollably. I kept on down the block, adrift.
A hand from out of the crowd, and out of the past, plucked me from the street.
An old friend from college that I hadn't seen or heard from in two years who worked in a building on the street, a total miracle in a petite package. She took me upstairs where we watched the stream of people, looking like refugees from a war zone, coming over the bridge down Adams Street. We huddled around the television someone had bought at the electronics store downstairs and cringed and wept at the constantly changing, chaotic flow of information coming from the reporters.
There was little to no editing of information, much of it which proved to be false or premature. There was little to no editing in the video footage, which meant we watched as several people jumped or fell.
And I cannot get that out of my head, had to Google to make sure I'm not relying on the faultiness of my own memory. Before I even typed more than live footage into my iPad, the kindly Google suggester fills in people jumping from Twin Towers. Which means people are Googling this. Lots of people. Wanting to see this? Because I can't stop seeing it even if I didn't see it and I would give most of what I have to get it out of my head forever.
I finally managed to get a line out, but only to my best friend in Montana. I asked her to contact my family and tell them I was all right. They later told me they assumed I was fine as I was living and working in Staten Island at the time. They had no idea I was in Manhattan when the planes hit. My friend was loving and supportive, but said that no one was really talking about it there. No one was talking about it.
We were in a war zone, with fighter jets wailing their way over the harbor and the city was burning. There was a cloud of smoke over Manhattan that didn't dissipate for at least a week. The city was shut down below 14th street and when they re-opened it there were tanks. In Manhattan. Like we were living in war-torn Libya. There were Army guys in the subway with some sort of automatic weaponry. Transit and bridges were opened and then locked down repeatedly, stranding people in their boroughs. The old New York habit of completely ignoring everyone on the street as if they didn't exist changed to surreptitious glances at passersby assessing for danger.
That day in September, late in the evening, the bridge to Staten Island was re-opened and the trains and buses were running. The stiles were left open, no one paid fares that day. That evening I took the bus over the Verrazano alone because I wanted to get back to my apartment and hunker down. The buses were so crowded I didn't make it on the first two that stopped. Cars were stopping at the bus stop to give those waiting rides home in their own private cars. I remember sitting down on the sidewalk crying, floored that people could be so kind to strangers after going through what we all had that day. That they wouldn't be in such a hurry to get home to their own nests, to their own people but would take the time to help out someone they didn't even know.
I remember all of it, but I remember that so fully and clearly.
The way that New Yorkers lifted each other up, dusted each other off and helped each other home.
The way that the New York firefighters, paramedics and New York and New Jersey police officers threw themselves into the fray for the lives of strangers.
The way that New York rallied for our city, our people and our dead.
The way that we remembered and continue to do so.
And the way that we go on because we're grateful and because that's what life does - it goes on.