Reflecting on 9-11. What do you remember?

Note: This is an excerpt from my article originally posted on




“Why should we be happy about a tragic event?” My 10 y.o. asked while watching the news the other night which featured stories about 9-11 ceremonies that were taking place.


“We aren’t celebrating the tragedy, if that’s what you mean,” I replied.” We are COMMEMORATING not CELEBRATING.”


” So we’re remembering it,” he said.


“Yes,” my husband chimed in, “we’re remembering those that died.”  A cloud passes over my husband’s face as if reliving the day.
September 11th. I was home alone in suburban New Jersey with my almost 5 month old son.  I was still getting used to being in America, having moved only a year before from the Philippines. Still new to being a wife and mother. I was sleepless and out of it, when my father-in-law called to tell me to turn on the news. Tower 1 was hit and it seemed unreal. I watched, mouth agape, still holding the receiver to my ear. And then the second tower was hit. “I gotta go, Pop.” I said and put the phone down.


My husband was at work in Philadelphia, and I was nervous. It was a time of great uncertainty. What was happening? Were there more planes? More attacks? Was this for real?  New York was just an hour and a half away.  My aunt worked by the World Trade Center.  Would more planes be hitting major U.S. cities?


Not long after, my husband called “I’m coming home,” he said, much to my relief.


And just like that, America, the world, as we knew it – and our lives – had changed. We frantically phoned friends to see if they were okay, if they got out. My aunt who was incommunicado for days turned up in New Jersey.  She was alive. But so many others weren’t as lucky.
In the days that followed, my husband and his brother, who both worked for an environmental company, were sent to Ground Zero to inspect the environmental impact. It was eerie, my husband said, as he and his brother wept atop the rubble, dust all around, evidence of lives – business cards, pictures, office items strewn all over. The images haunt him to this day.
Back in reality, my baby cooed in his bouncy seat.  September 11, 2001, the day he sat up by himself for the first time.







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