Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday Surgery: 9/11 Ten Years Later

I think I associate 9/11 so strongly with the internet and the soaps because on that day, like every other person I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was home alone, upstairs and getting ready  when I saw the news about the first plane. Diane Sawyer was on-- and no one thought much about it other than it was an accident.  The second plane hit and I just kept turning the channels, over and over again because I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I called my Mother..she was like "I don't understand"-- I ran downstairs and got online. Everyone on the AOL boards were buzzing. We held each other up through the day. The net was pretty new then-- at least there was nothing like Twitter or Facebook to meet up on. Most of us on the boards were there to just dish about soaps. Suddenly we were looking for posters who lived in NYC -- some were posting from NJ and could see the smoke. There were no "us" "them' was "we".

When the Pentagon got hit, I panicked. We live in Western NY by a Nuclear Power Plant and close to Canada. I called my husband who was at Xerox and he was seeing things on Yahoo News. I was ready to get our stuff and go. Where? Who the hell knows.. I had this sudden urge to flee. I remembered our neighbor Mary was in lower Manhattan with her daughter. I ran over to her house, hoping she was home. Not to be. Later I found out she dropped Martha off at the downtown library and went on her way. She was there when the first plane hit. She just made it out of the Lincoln Tunnel before it was shut down. 

Of course, the soaps were interrupted for some time after the event. GH was in the middle of "The Endgame" story and it had to be shelved because of the implications of 9/11. Big Brother Season 2 was also going strong and there was much discussion about cancelling it because the people inside needed to get out. The boards were filled with people looking for loved ones, people reaching out to others and just a mass of humanity posting at once. Numb. That's what I remember in the days after.

 Soap Weekly 9/11/01

When the soaps resumed, people were cautious. For awhile all of TV was turned to the tragedy and nothing aired on any channel but news. This is also when "crawlers" appeared on the bottom of the screen as well. Even when you started watching again, there was a constant reminder scrolling along on the bottom of your picture.
I got an email from a woman that worked as an EMT in Delaware that went to NYC to work trauma units. She wrote to tell me that she and some of the patients started watching GH again and how much it helped them get 'back to normal'. People wrote lovely letters to Connie Towers at the time, expressing their feelings about the show. Soaps gave us something to tune into to take our minds off of things for a moment. Characters wore flag pins and there were flags all over the sets. Soaps got a tinier but kinder, gentler for a little while. (just a little while!)

I flew to France just 10 days after the event. When we were in Newark, we had to change planes. All of us still saw the smouldering Ground Zero. Police were everywhere. When we got to France, they had tributes to America at the  Arc de Triomphe that took my breath away. I actually couldn't wait to get home and back to the net where I knew others were still talking about their feelings.
9/11 truly bound me together with the online community in a way I never dreamed of. I think we tend to forget just how raw it all was back then. For some, it's still as raw. Bless those that lost their lives and loved ones that day. 

GH Notes: Scene of the Week: Lucky ditching his drugs in the bathroom.
Go see who won Soapy Match last week..and who's up this week. Wubs Net


Anonymous said...

I was working in D.C. at the time and our whole office and the city in general went nuts. The panic of trying to find love ones, trying to get news and trying to get home after the Pentagon was hit all that is still in my mind.
D.C. was scary for months after this happened and I seem to associate this with the time when the 'talking heads' became a TV fixture or when I really noticed it.
9/11 will forever be etched in our minds and the survivors in our hearts.

Batgary said...

I was still the Air Force(I'm retired) and assigned at the Pentagon. My office was across 395 in Crystal City. When the first plane hit, we all thought it was an accident. After the 2nd hit, my husband called and said "you guys are a target, be careful". Less than 5 minutes later the Pentagon was hit. Luckily no one in my directorate was lost, we spent a few hours accounting for us all. Everyone at the Pentagon evacuated to our office, we handed them a phone and told them to call home. It took me a while to reach my mother, she was in tears thinking I was dead. Same for my mother-in-law.

At the time, we were living on Andrews AFB, not too far from the flight line. Planes were taking off from there to do the patrols over DC. I remember waking up in a cold sweat every time a plane took off.

We were told not to come in for several days while cleanup was going on and the internet was my lifeline. My husband was working nights, so I entertained our 5 year old. I didn't want him seeing the pictures on TV so all the news I got was from the net.

Those evil men thought they could destroy America, they just made us stronger. They seriously underestimated us. We will fight amongst ourselves, but you hurst one of us you hurt us all.
Never forget those who died in New York, the Pentagon and Flight 93. And thanks to all those who put themselves in harms way that day.

Lori said...

I was at work. The entire top floor of the building I was in was military. I was 5 minutes from Tampa International Airport and 10 minutes from MacDill AFB where CenCom is located. I heard the news on the radio. I immediately called my mom and told her to turn on the TV. She got on to Yahoo messenger, I pulled up MSNBC's website and turned up the radio. She watched the 2nd plane fly into the tower live on tv and told me what happened via instant messages. I couldn't comprehend because at that time I hadn't seen the footage. My boss came out about 5 minutes later and said "why are all these guys showing up in fatigues?", I told him what happened. By noon we shut the office and both went home.

It was the scariest thing to drive down the express way home, past the airport, and nothing was moving. It felt like I was the only person out on the roads, the airport looked frozen in time, and the silence was deafening. The days that followed without a single plane or helicopter in the sky went by like a blurr. When the planes started flying again all I could do was stare and hold my breath as they passed. I still find myself staring at planes when I am near the airport like I can will them safe travels and praying I will not witness history.

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

May we all continue to dream but never forget

skeebob said...

Like Lori, I was also living in Tampa on 9/11, working a 3 month temp job at the Hillsborough County Jail. (Not in Tampa anymore, still miss it sometimes.) Someone came in the office after the first plane hit and told us, and all of us saw the second plane hit live on the break room tv. The jail went on lockdown, not only because of our proximity to MacDill AFB, but also because Bush was in Sarasota, just an hour south of us, and MacDill was an option of where he could go. That was scary. But by my normal quitting time, the lockdown was over.

One of my friends is a teacher, and 9/11 was her very first day working as a substitute, her first day ever as a paid teacher. She was a bundle of nerves anyway, and then this happened, and she had no idea what to do. Certainly these stories don't compare to what folks in NYC, DC & Penn. went through, but it just shows how deeply EVERYBODY was touched by this atrocity.

Very good column today, Karen.

Barbara Darlin said...

I was born and raised in NYC and living in the SF Bay area at the time. My husband was in Atlanta on business. I thought the chances of it being an accident were slim (because of the air traffic control in the area).

I immediately thought of Bin Laden. I have no idea why other than he was a rogue enemy. I couldn't imagine a government doing something so overt.

Of course, when the second plane hit there was no doubt we were being attacked. I couldn't believe it when the Pentagon was hit. I thought this was concentrated on NYC.

After the Pentagon I could only wonder where next?

I couldn't get through to my husband of course and knew he wouldn't be able to come home anytime soon.

From that point on I was on automatic pilot. When the plane went down in PA I couldn't imagine when or how it would end.

I watched the towers collapse in disbelief. You get use to seeing these things in movies. Watching this seemed so inappropriate and wrong...there were people in there...real people...and I was watching like I would a movie.

When the 1st plane hit I kept saying to myself life as we know it has been changed forever. Nothing will ever be the same. Somehow our little island of a country had been breached.

historyiseveryday said...

i think i may be the youngest person commenting. Ten years ago I was 14 years old, and i had just started a new high school the week before.

I was in my 2nd period gym class when the first plane hit. None of us knew until after class had ended because there were no windows and there weren't any intercoms in that particular gym. I don't know if an announcement was made by the administration, but when i got to my 3rd period Italian class, all of my classmates were trying to see out of the windows to see over Jamaica Bay into the city. They said that they could see the towers on fire, but I didn't look. I was in total shock. I vaguely remembered the 1993 attack, but since I was barely 6 at the time what i remembered wasn't much. It took me about 15 minutes to realize that my aunt worked in lower Manhattan about a hop, skip, and a jump away from the world trade center. logically, i knew nothing could have happened to her, but i was afraid anyway. Somehow, news of the bridges and the subway system closing flooded into the school, and everyone was resigned to being stuck there(probably one of the safest places on the peninsula--the cafeteria was a bomb shelter). Some of the teachers tried to keep it business as usual. My 4th period math teacher attempted to teach us factoring, but none of us were really paying attention. My 5th period bio teacher let us sit there and talk. At my 6th period lunch no one wanted to eat or talk. Many people cried. I tried to read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets just to escape. During my 7th period global studies class, my teacher tried to explain terrorism to us, but it was then that my name was called over the loudspeaker. My mother had come to take me home. Because the roads were closing, i was sure that the only reason she had come to get me was because something had happened to my aunt. thankfully, she told me that my aunt was fine and was on her way home (she walked from her office near Wall Street to Queens BLVD where my other aunt picked her up). We had to fight with the police to let us over the bridge into Broad Channel because we weren't supposed to be on them, but they let us go--we were the only car on the road; it was so eerie. When I got home, all the other kids were there--their schools were easier to get to. My 8 year old cousin hugged me thinking that she was never going to see me again because she didn't really know where i was and what was going on. I was left in charge of the kids because the adults were all watching the news. That night, my mom took my brother and me to a prayer service at the local Catholic church. On the way home a military plane flew over my neighborhood. I freaked thinking that it was happening again, but my mom explained that the military was being sent to Manhattan to make sure everyone was safe.

Hope said...

These are some of the most touching and well written comments I have ever read! Way to go soap people....
I was in Illinois, and mostly I remember the next morning needing to run errands and being afriad to leave my sister home alone! I made her get up and go with me and she was so mad....

Leesy said...

After Lori called me and gave me the news (we thought it was an accident of course), I stayed online giving her the news as it came in, and translated what I was watching live to a room full of roulette players on a game site I was in. Not everyone could see a TV from their computer screen, and our friendly site seemed a safe haven. One of the players was l3 years old, home alone , and in New York. We calmed her and talked to her until someone came home.....5 hours later! It was a day we will never forget, and I've thought of that child often, wondering what became of her. I will sign off to you as I did 10 years ago...God Bless us All!

kdmask said...

OH WOW..thank you all so much for these comments!! I got all teary eyed. Didn't know many of you were in the military or close to the attacks!!
Thanks for sharing everyone. xxoo

lisa said...

I watched the memorial and I was so touched by a little girl who traced over her father's engraved name on a sheet of paper in order to keep this at home as her own part of him.
That day was filled with so much pain and devastation, so many lives lost.
First responders are still suffering the effects of that day with illnesses and cancers. I will not ever forget.

mosbp2003 said...

First, I would like to send my prayers to the family of all those that lost their lives that horrible day. I would also like so say a huge "Thank You" to all the service men and women, police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel who risk their lives every single day to protect ours...

Anonymous said...

I was working on a army base in NJ 5 mins from home.We went into high alert for a year after that just to get to work took an hour everyday after.They had to check every car with mirrors,search the whole car and some got a random pat down.

CareyN said...

I live in San Diego, and on 9/11 I was getting ready for work and watching General Hospital on SoapNet. (Honest to god, that's what I was doing!) My mom, who still lived about 15 minutes from DC at the time called me in total panic, so I switched off GH for the news. Batgary--my dad was also in Crystal City, working for NavSea. I had a cousin in the Pentagon, who was unharmed. It was all very was also the 2nd day of my new job. Everyone at the new office was so sweet to me since they didn't know me. They asked about my family, and let me make all the calls I needed to. I didn't do a lick of work that day and they paid me anyway. I'm still with that company, btw, largely in part to how they treated me on 9/11. When I talk about my company, I always tell people this story.

As soon as my mom could (about 4 years later) she made my dad transfer to the navy base in Bremerton, far from DC as she could get. She lived every day there in panic.

Funny, sharing this story on a GH message board since I will always associate GH and 9/11....

Karen, as always, thanks for providing us a place to talk, share, and get to know each other.

Batgary said...

Anonymous 4:43 I remember the looonnng lines to get on base. I'm a contractor now working on Bolling AFB and they still do random car searches along with everyone in the car having to show their ID to get on.

CareyN Small world. Hope your folks are enjoying the West coast.

We always joked about the Pentagon being a target, but we were thinking cruise missiles not planes.

I was a "chair warrior" but I thank God for those guys and gals on the front lines. Also for all the Firemen, Policemen, EMTs and all the others who put their lives on the line to keep us safe.