My 9/11 Story
September 12, 2011
In light of the ten year anniversary of 9/11, I have been asked to share my story of that day. This tenth year anniversary is so very important. We as a country survived the most vicious attack. The day it happened in NYC was something I hope no one ever has to experience in the USA again. Only now, can I share the trauma of that day. Here is my experience of 9/11 as a NYer.
It was a gorgeous day in New York. It was sunny and warm with clear skies. I even remember what I was wearing; a skirt with a shirt and very high heeled opened shoes with no stockings. Mario was away on business in Italy for the week. He usually would take Avery to school in the mornings. That morning I took Avery, who was six years old, to school in a car service, dropped her off and continued to my office on Broadway and 39th Street. In Times Square, on Broadway, is a huge TV screen; literally100 ft high. I looked at it and I saw to my disbelief the World Trade Center being hit by a plane. I remember thinking to myself, how could a plane make a mistake of crashing into a building? Did the pilot have a heart attack? Was there a malfunction with the plane that they couldn’t maneuver?
On the radio in the car service there was someone speaking live from their apartment on Wall Street. They were telling everyone what they were witnessing. Then she said, “Oh my God!! Another plane has hit the other tower!!!!” I am thinking, “Holy crap. This is now no accident. This is a deliberate attack.”
I went into my office. I was the first to arrive. The phone was ringing off the hook as I was putting the key into the door. I answered and it was my Mom. She was screaming at me, “Ramona get out of the city fast!!” I think I went into temporary shock or disbelief. I actually went across the street to visit one of my clients that I had a 9:30am appointment with. When I returned to my office building twenty minutes later, there was a man on his cell phone out front. He was saying, “What?? What?! A plane crashed into the Pentagon?? The plane hit the Pentagon???”
I then knew for certain that we were under attack. I felt like I was in a movie. This can’t be happening. This can’t be real. But, it was. I went back to my office, got my things together and told everyone to leave.
My strongest thought then was that I have to get Avery. I must get to Avery as fast as I can. I walked out of my office building and I saw clouds of smoke rising high from Wall Street. It was so eerie, scary and threatening. What was going on? Are we all going to die? Will I get to Avery in time? Oh how I wish Mario was here!
There were no cabs and I was not taking the subway. Maybe poisonous gas would be down there. Who knew what was going on? The Air Force planes were buzzing over my head. This is not the U.S. This is not happening to my country. This has to be a bad dream.
I walked over 60 blocks in 5 inch heels. It was finally 1:30 pm when I reached Avery’s school on East 91st street and Fifth Ave. My feet were raw but I only wanted to get Avery. I was blind with my mission. The school obviously knew at this time what was going on. But, because our children were so young, they did not convey anything to them. So many moms and dads were outside the school to get their children. The school convinced us to wait another hour to receive our children at the normal dismissal time. They did not want these young children to panic or be upset. Panic? I am freaking out myself! But, okay. They made sense. What would one hour mean? So, I waited.
My good girlfriend’s ex-husband was there. His daughter was best friends with Avery. I asked him if he could speak to both girls together about what was going on as I was at a loss and really did not know what I should tell Avery. I realize now that I was in shock and did not trust myself to say the right thing to my child of 6 years, my most precious person in the world, my Avery. How could I explain to her something I was not even understanding myself!!? David told me what he was planning to say to our girls. To this day I don’t remember what he said. I just remember it was the right thing to say to 6 year old children. I brought Avery home and I wanted to leave the city ASAP to our country house. That afternoon, they closed all the roads and bridges that led outside the city. I couldn’t leave the city. I was trapped. What if the fumes from Wall Street contained toxic elements? What if these fumes could hurt Avery’s lungs or worse, kill her?!? My thoughts were only for Avery, not myself. I needed to get her out of the city ASAP.
They opened the bridges and roads in the AM and I left the city so fast with her. I invited my girlfriend to join us with her two children and she did. One was Avery’s best friend. I remember so vividly pulling up to our home in Southampton and such a feeling of huge relief came over me. I am safe here. We are all safe here. It was as if I was in another world.
It took me over sixth months to get over 9/11. I could not sleep well. I did not feel safe. Every time I heard a siren, I would panic.
Here we are, ten years later, and the wound still feels fresh. But, as I watch the ceremony on the television of the new memorial I feel that we are finally rebuilding. We are united and forever connected. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who lost loved ones. My thanks go out to all of our heroes who saved us on that day and protect us every day since.
All I can say now is, God bless America, the best country in the world that I am so proud to be part of.