How We New Yorkers Dealt With 9/11


Hi everyone. What a sad day, the 10th year anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy. My husband and I are watching CBS with all the names of the victims being read. My 5 year old just said, “I don’t want to watch this show where everyone is talking about everybody dying.” My husband and I really want to watch it but we just changed the channel to Nickelodean.

On September 11, 2001, we were living fewer than three miles from the Towers and even then, our family was divided on how we needed to be taken care of during that time. My husband wanted the T.V. on every second of the day and I needed to tune out, as I was caring for my then year and a half old daughter. He needed information to feel connected and safe, and I needed to be distracted so I could carry on. It was a terrifying time of unknowns for all of us. The horrifying and indescribable smell of it all wafting through our windows, prohibiting us from escaping the thought of death.

I remember the panic to stock up on milk for our baby, not knowing if we would be shut in with no access to bridges or tunnels to deliver food and other necessities to Manhattan.

In the first day or two, there was such a beautiful outpouring of volunteerism that , even as a Social Worker, I was put on waiting lists to help in my local hospitals and the nearby downtown Armory where victims and their families were receiving services. Everyone came out to help.

With all the hundreds of police officers in the streets right outside my door, I made cookies. I made a ton of chocolate chip cookies, put them in a box and hit the streets. Some officers declined, that they were watching their weight, some declined , probably for fear of the unknown baker, but all were grateful and appreciative of the offer.

In the weeks following, I was fortunate enough to be able to volunteer at the Armory on the West Side of Manhattan where my background in counseling permitted me to work with the children who had lost family members. I later went on to work with the International Relief Organization, Mercy Corps, to provide trainings to staff of dozens of organizations in NY and NJ who dealt with children who were indirectly affected by 9/11. It was an honor and a relief to be doing something productive to help. I did this for almost a year until I was so pregnant with my second child that it was time to get back to my family.

We turned the Memorial Show off this morning for my sweet and innocent five year old but the time will come when she will learn about the world we live in, with all it’s joys and sorrows. For now, we will speak of the atrocious acts with our kids, but only with the specifics that each of them as individuals can tolerate and understand. What we will do with all of them, however, is to teach them to always help in a time of need, even if it is making chocolate chip cookies to show we care.

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7 Responses

  1. Visiting from Rambling Follower's blog. thanks for the post. Your experience helps me to reconsider what my own children can handle. It is so hard, as we want them to know, but not shut down in fear. Just as our grandparents could not explain WWII to us, we will probably never be able to explain 9/11 to our own children. Peace and blessings.

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