On Sept. 11, 2001, my son and I were both home sick. I heard the news and told him to turn on the television set, which was in his room. We saw the second plane hit the tower. The horror of a plane full of innocent people being used as a weapon against a building full of other innocent people roiled my stomach and my spirit. As reports continued on the attacks, bells tolled at Grace Episcopal Church and Crescent Presbyterian Church near my home. My daughter called from Seattle to say nothing had happened there - so far. It was an unprecedented situation and everything was unknown except the feeling of vulnerability. The skies became quiet. On an errand to Westfield, I saw a mailman with an American flag sticking out of his bag, the first of many to be seen on cars, in windows and anywhere else a flag could go to show love of our country. Later I wrote in my journal, "I feel so weak," too weak to do simple tasks in the face of this enormity. Television and radio were out or spotty. President George Bush was expected to address the nation but that did not happen until evening. My notes say he quoted the Twenty-third Psalm. Former newsroom colleague Pasquale DiFulco was on CBS radio with a statement from the Port Authority, his new workplace. My journal says, "At least that means he is OK." It was reassuring also to hear Mike Kennedy's voice giving traffic reports. Formerly with a local station, he was at CBS. I note that Courier News reporter Tony Sclafani is going to New York with Piscataway firefighters. All first responders want to go, but within days the Union County Office of Emergency Management has to advise them to go only if asked. A death toll of possibly 4,700 is announced.
And so began a challenge to take care of everyday concerns while scares continued, airports suddenly shutting down and later anthrax alarms. The life and death stories mounted up, survivors and victims, the bereaved and the brave, and so it continues to this day, as we remember.