September 11th

September 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm 2 comments

So, I typically write about math. Teaching math. Helping students with math. Creating a community of learners in a math class. Recreational math. And I’ll start writing about math tomorrow. But today is different – the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Like many people, I remember where I was. I remember the confusion I felt when I saw the fire in the first tower. I remember the gut punch I felt when we saw Flight 175 fly into the South Tower. I remember hearing Jim Miklaszewski reporting that he felt something at the Pentagon. I remember watching both towers fall, and the clouds of smoke & dust. I remember watching people evacuating the White House and the Capitol. I remember hearing about Flight 93 crashing in western Pennsylvania. I remember trying not to cry, I didn’t want to scare my children. I remember being scared, and crying on the inside.

But when I think about September 11th, I will always think back to a warm August day in 2010. I was vacationing in New York City with my family, and we had spent the morning at Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. There are few places that one can feel more like an American than at those two places. We then made our way over to Ground Zero, and all the memories came floating back. The scarred earth. The first responders. We looked at the construction – hope rising from the rubble.

We had decided to visit the Tribute WTC Visitor Center. We saw a short movie, and walked through a gallery that displayed the timeline of that day. We saw objects pulled from the wreckage – stuffed animals, fire helmets, and posters searching for lost loved ones. Then I turned the corner into a gallery filled with photos of those people who lost their lives that day. An older woman was pointing with a laser pointer to individuals, telling their stories. She then pointed to a young policeman and said “And that was my son.” She said in matter-of-factly. I turned away in an attempt to hold back my tears. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to cry, but I didn’t want to cry in front of her. She had been through so much, I didn’t want to spark anything. After a few seconds I got it back together and listened to the story of her son’s day. Of his life. Of her life afterwards.

So today, that woman from the tribute center is on my mind. And her son. And that is what I will always think of first when I think of 9/11 – those two brave souls.


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tracy (Rabinowitz) Menoza  |  September 11, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    That is an enormously touching story. The coverage on CNN today brought a story to my attention that I’d not heard before. It was the story of the volunteer boatmen who came to shore and brought everyone trying to leave Manhattan to the mainland since all the bridges and tunnels were closed. My dad was in Manhattan that day (thankfully for us, not near the towers) and like many commuters, he was trapped on that island with no way home. I found out today that those volunteers shuttled 500,000 people in about 9 hours!! There is no doubt that in times of need, human beings are capable of unbelievable feats.

    • 2. georgewoodbury  |  September 12, 2011 at 5:32 am

      When we got on the ferry to head out to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, we saw a sign on board that explained how the ferry shuttle people out of Manhattan to hospitals, etc. A perfect example of how people can come together in a time of great need.
      I also read about a group of NYC volunteers who “return the favor” – going to other places (New Orleans, …) whenever a crisis occurs.


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