9/11, Eleanor Roosevelt, New York City, Photography, Picture of the Day, September 11, Trade Towers, Travel

This is What I Remember and Why I Remember, by Beverly Hicks Burch

It’s been 11 years today…and every year I remember it with the same ache as when it happened that morning.

That summer had been a dreadful summer for me personally. My husband of 27 years walked out on me for a new life with another woman. My health was in a continual decline. I had one outbreak of shingles after another, a constant fever of an unknown source and a list of other serious health problems too long to list. Just the weekend before 9/11 I’d been rush to the ER while out of town with a friend who was visiting her parents.

And then 9/11 happened…

I was alone that morning. I was actually still asleep, recovering from my health crisis from the previous weekend. My son who was with the Alabama Air National Guard was actually at the base that morning called me and woke me up.

He said, “Mom, turn on your TV! We’re being attack! A plane as been flown into one of the Trade Towers in New York City.”

I asked, “Honey, are you sure it’s an attack? You know a plane flew into the Empire State building back in the 1930s or 1940s.”

‘’Momma, this was a large passenger jet, full of people and it was aiming for the Tower!”

Then as we were talking the second tower was hit and there was absolutely no question as to what was happening.

Air travel was shut down that day in the US, but my son’s wing was launch later that day to do refueling runs. During one of those runs they flew over the smoldering damage at the Pentagon. Yes, there was positively no question as to what had happened. The US had been attacked much like it had at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

It was a seminal day in the USA and in my life.

A year or so ago I was going through some of my older photographs and I came upon this one. It instantly gripped my heart and brought back memories and reminded me why 9/11 had affected me so personally and continues to do so. Yes, it had affected me as an American…to see the attack on our soil, see so many innocent people suffer in such horrific ways. But, there was something else…

I remember the very first time I saw the Trade Towers. It was the early 1980s and I was a young lass from Alabama fulfilling a lifetime goal or as we call it today, marking off a bucket list item…and that was to visit New York City. In my case I not only had an opportunity to visit, but I was going to be living in Westchester County just north of the City for several months, so I would be visiting the city often.

I took this particular picture one day as we were driving into the City. I was actually sitting in my car (a 1980 5 speed Toyota Corolla if memory serves me) and I was quite taken with the view. I took the shot with my Pentax 35mm which has long since died and given up the ghost, but served me well for many years. I’m not really sure if I managed to capture a lightning strike in the upper right of the picture or if that’s a scratch on the surface of the picture. Either way, it chilled me when I saw it considering the events that unfolded on 9/11. Some 30 years later it appears as a spooky, ominous harbinger of things to come.

I may have share this picture before, but given today’s somber anniversary I can’t help but share it again. Because every time I look at this picture I am reminded of one of the reasons 9/11 affects me so year after year. For you see, not only did I see these monolithic giants from afar, but I stood as far atop on one that the public was allowed, in the observation deck and looked out on a 360 degree view of Manhattan that was breathtakingly stunning. It was the sun setting on Manhattan and the lights beginning to twinkle and come alive one by one across the city. It was magical.

I will never see that particular view again…no one will…and I grieve that loss…along with the thousands of lost souls who no longer walk upon this earth.

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace; one must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it; one must work at it.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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