Ten Years After

It’s partly overcast this morning, so unlike that morning ten years ago when the skies here in Massachusetts were a brilliant, crisp azure, so clear you could see details on the John Hancock Tower and Prudential Center in downtown Boston from the Mass Pike as you headed toward the Weston Toll Booth.

I was nearing the end of my daily hour-and-a-half-long commute to Brookline, just reaching the tolls, half listening to news and traffic on WBZ, when the announcer broke in to say that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

At first I thought it was some kind of small passenger plane, a fluke. Maybe the pilot had a heart attack and lost control?

The second plane hit as I parked at the college where I worked. I hurried inside, checked in our president’s office to be sure he knew what was happening and ran upstairs to my office.

A few minutes later, we were all gathered around a television in a classroom, watching Peter Jennings describe the unbelievable as smoke poured from the twin towers. One of our colleagues had lived through the Second World War in Europe, and as the first tower collapsed, he gasped and began to cry.

I was numb. The whole thing seemed surreal, like some disaster movie that would end at a commercial break.

The college closed for the day. I called my children’s school to tell them I would be there early to pick up my girls and flew back home on the Pike. As I drove, I thought about the day my mother called my elementary school to be sure the principal knew JFK had been shot.

My kids were surprised to see me. My oldest daughter knew about the disaster, but didn’t fully grasp the significance; my youngest hadn’t been told and was having fun with her friends. I was just relieved to be with them.

Later that day, we sat together and watched the news, and I tried to explain, as best I could, what had happened.

But I’m not sure, ten years later, that I can ever fully understand the events of that day. All I know is that life is precious, that we need to respect each other, and that in whatever length of days we are granted, we must use our time well to make a difference for the greater good.

If 9-11 means anything, let it be that.





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