September 11th Sky

By: pattihenderson

Sep 11 2010

Category: Weekend Adventures


Focal Length:70mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 7D

This morning I woke up to this stunning view outside my apartment window.  Initially, I took this picture to show off the new view from my newly-minted “steps from the Boardwalk” apartment.  But then I thought “Wow, does this ever look like a September 11th sky.”  And then it hit me.  Today is indeed the 9th anniversary of “that day” that we all remember so vividly.  The sky then looked like it did this morning.  Do you remember?

Like everyone, I have my own 9/11 story.  That day I was giving a Geography in-service to Newfoundland teachers at The Airport Hotel just outside St. John’s.  I remember vividly waking to a stunningly clear morning, already nervous about my day ahead (while I’ve gotten used to public speaking, it still makes me slightly queasy…).  During the early part of the in-service we started to hear plane after plane land on the tarmac behind the hotel.  Unusual activity for St. John’s Airport mid-morning.  We all went out to investigate and were shocked to see a tarmac littered with commercial planes.  Our group went back inside and found a television set and spent the rest of the morning watching in horror as we witnessed people jumping from the Twin Towers and then the towers themselves fell.  One then the other.  Anyone watching on that day would agree that what we were witnessing was surreal, almost like watching a movie.  This could not be happening.  But it was.  Later that morning our hotel was evacuated by firefighters as one of the planes backing onto the hotel was suspected to hold hijackers.  We all fled, some to their homes and the rest to our hotels down on the waterfront.

I spent the rest of that day wandering the streets along  St. John’s harbour in a bit of a fog and very worried about our future.  I missed my family back home and wanted desperately to get back there.  I spent the evening at a lovely local restaurant on the harbour called Bruno’s, eating and drinking with the owners.  A month later on another visit to St. John’s for a different project I went back to Bruno’s and was instantly welcomed by name and with open arms.  Without knowing it, we had become family on September 11th.  And we did continue our in-service the next day.  We were a solemn crowd of educators but my week was brightened by one local teacher who remembered I was far from home and baked me a wonderful dessert to help sustain me during my unexpected lengthy stay. 

I did eventually make it home at the end of the week after many cancelled flights and false starts.  On each anniversary of this date I find myself looking to the skies, remembering, and giving a whispered thank you for the kind treatment I received during a week when I desperately needed to be home.

Where were you on September 11, 2001?


7 comments on “September 11th Sky”

  1. Thanks for sharing your story Patti.

    I think after Sept 11th we all learned to embrace life a little more and show kindness to our fellow man as we realized how fragile life really is and how quickly something or someone can take it from us.

  2. Your family back home sure wished you were home with us but once we knew you were ok we were relieved . What a frightening day that was. I am thankful the kids were so small they don’t remember it. That was the first day all the kids got on the bus together.

  3. Jen, I didn’t know that…does it seem that 9 years has passed quickly? And…I felt lucky to have a family to miss that much!

  4. I was working in a high-rise in downtown Philadelphia, directly behind Independence Hall. They closed our building and I left with some colleagues to go and try and get a train home. Barricades had already been placed around Independence Hall and a nearby Federal Courthouse and I likened the streets to a Godzilla movie – streams of people in a near panic trying to get out of the city. The train station was chaos and the trains were jammed. My colleagues and I walked to another colleague’s nearby apartment to wait it out, all the while keeping an eye on the sky and the nearby skyscrapers. I remember my friend coming out when we arrived and telling us that the 1st tower had fallen and thinking that that was not physically possible.

    The weird thing I remember is that in the middle of all the chaos as we walked down the streets, it struck us that we were all starving because we hadn’t eaten. So, we stopped and grabbed a pizza to bring with us. And we knew that another co-worker was in labour with her first child. Life went on.

    The other thing I remember is just wanting to talk to my loved ones even though logically I knew that they were alright since no one was near any of the sites. I still wanted to hear their voices and be reassured.

  5. TLC, thanks for sharing your story. You were not alone in feeling the need to reach out to family on that day. I called my Mum – she told me to walk home from Newfoundland as quickly as I could…but it still helped to hear her voice!

  6. […] on that frightening day. I have written about my experience in St. John’s the week of 9/11 here and here. But somehow finding these photos taken on the day before all hell broke loose brought […]

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