There was no music on the radio; the announcers were talking about some awful tragedy but I couldn’t really make out what they were referring to. My cell phone rang. It was my husband, saying that an airplane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers in Manhattan. Initially he thought it was a small, private aircraft- by now the radio was reporting that it was a commercial jet, and using words such as “terrorism” and “attack”. My initial reaction was that there was some morbid joke happening, such as Orwell’s “War of the Worlds”, until my husband yelled out on the other end of the phone. He was watching the news and saw the second plane hit the second tower. I parked my car and ran into work. By now, word had spread about the downed plane in Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon.
I worked at a State Office at the time, and walked in to stunned faces, confusion, and chaos. The rest of the day was surreal; like being wide awake in a nightmare, unable to remember the dream itself. Dead quiet. Fear. Confusion. Waiting…
Being a Yankee fan, it was my assumption that there would be no baseball that evening, but there was a part of me that wished it were possible. The distraction of watching America’s favorite pastime would have been a relief. Instead, I sat on my front porch, looked up into the otherwise empty sky, and watched military helicopters as they deployed to New York. Not knowing if it was over, it was a long, petrifying night.
The days that followed were tense, full of fear, and horror as I stayed glued to the television set to watch the recovery efforts, cry for the dead and missing and their families, and pray that someday, America would once again return to normal. I knew it my heart, though, that things would never be the same again.
As time went on, little by little, the media finally began to talk about these things. Resuming activities on Wall Street, sports, and many other things that makes America tick. There was footage of Derek Jeter, Chuck Knoblauch, Scott Brosius and Roger Clemens among others helping the effort by doing some charity work and personal appearances. Finally, some hope was slowly coming back, and a return to some sense of normalcy seemed to be on the horizon.
As baseball resumed, a sense of relief was felt by everyone. Only it wasn’t because people cared more about the standings or who was going to the World Series that year. People wanted-and perhaps needed- to show the rest of the world that America will not, and can be broken by this.
The sentiment across the entire country was “We’re all New Yorkers” now, and baseball fans took this to heart. Even in the heart of “enemy territory” at away games, opposing teams paid tribute to New York, the Yankees and the Mets, fans applauded instead of jeered, and, for a brief moment in time, baseball fans all across America were no longer divided by loyalty to teams, but were united by the sense that we were all in this together, and baseball was the glue that helped rebuild our hearts and minds and bring some sense of comfort, relief, and healthy distraction to our lives again.
There’s a beautiful quote that, to me, summarizes the whole experience for America during those days:
“I can be changed by what happens to me; but I refused to be reduced by it”- Maya Angelou
On this 10th Anniversary of the attacks on America, please take a moment to reflect, remember, and offer support to those who survived but still suffer from that awful day. “Never Forget”.