I can remember exactly where I was twelve years ago today. It’s a flashbulb memory–a vivid snapshot of the moment and circumstances when you learned about a shocking event. The kind of memory my grandparents’ generation experienced with the assassination of JFK, and the kind of memory my generation experienced with 9/11, and more recently, the Boston Marathon bombings.
I was in high school, and had stayed home sick that day. My mom was taking me to the doctor, but first we stopped to drop my little sister off at the nanny’s house. I was listening to K-Rock radio, when I heard Howard Stern say that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, and my first thought was, “That’s sick….he’s gone too far this time.” I didn’t believe it until my mom came out from the nanny’s house and told me she saw it on TV.
The events kept unfolding over the radio as I sat in the doctor’s office. When I heard that the first tower fell, I began to cry, not knowing which building my dad worked in or if he was okay. The nurse, in shock and busy consoling me, forgot about the tight blood pressure cuff around my arm until she noticed and quickly released the pressure.
I spent the rest of the day glued to the TV, watching the coverage and seeing the same footage looped over and over until there was something new to report. The only other thing I remember about the day is intermittent calls from my dad, giving us updates whenever he could as he tried to figure out a way to get home. He made it home–one of the lucky ones.
Others in my town weren’t as lucky. Manhasset, whose residents largely work in finance, was hit disproportionately hard. Nearly 50 people from my small town were lost that day.
To read the LA Times’ article on Manhasset that ran on the one year anniversary of the attacks is to gain a glimpse into what life is like here. I came across the article on last year’s anniversary, and wondered who wrote such a beautiful, intimate portrait of the town where I grew up. Upon seeing the byline–JR Moehringer–it clicked. Moehringer grew up here as well. I don’t know if he was here after the attacks, but if you grew up here, then you wouldn’t have had to be here to understand what it was like.
Our community is small. Entire families live here: grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. People don’t leave, and if they do, they tend to come back. According to Moehringer’s article, half of the homes sold annually in Manhasset are sold to people who were born here. It’s how I know that the names of those lost belonged to the loved ones of people I grew up with. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone from Manhasset who does recognize the names and places in Moehringer’s article.
Reading the article for the second year in a row, it still brings me to tears. I get the sense that reading the article will becoming an annual tradition. More than just a piece of journalism, it is a beautifully-written tribute, a way to remember those lost on 9/11.