9-11 on Mount St. Alban

I was wrapping up a meeting when my then-boss rushed through Satterlee Hall, saying, "There's been an explosion at the World Trade Center" . Remembering the 1993 event I replied, "What; again?"

Soon all we staffers and volunteers at St Alban's Episcopal Church were gathered around in the meeting room where there was a TV set and we watched in horror some footage that looked one hates to say like a movie.

There was a clergy meeting in there and as I stood in the doorway a box of handkerchiefs made the rounds of the room as we stood there prayerful and stunned, shedding tears.

By mid-morning the decision came down from on high that the Cathedral Close would be evacuated so I proceeded to the bus on Wisconsin Ave. It took one and a half hours for two buses to arrive at the stop in front of a then-closed Chinese restaurant. A small group of homeless people were camped out on the sidewalk. They seemed completely unaffected by the news, well they would be, wouldn't they.

I remember thinking, "I wish I had internet service out here; I would like to know what is going to happen." but of course no internet service or news media would have been able to predict the events that took place that day.

Getting home downtown there were National Guard troops lined up and I was recalling how that resembled the scenes of my youth with the National Guard called out to enforce civil rights. It was eerie.

I suppose we all lost some innocence that day. I know that for a year and a half afterwards, there were helicopters flying overhead at 9 PM and 2 AM, waking us. I developed for over a decade after that the habit, unfortunate anxiety-inducing habit, of awakening often at 2 AM for some reason or for no reason at all. The sort of PTSD lingered long after the actual event of 9-11.

I did not lose anyone known to me, nor did anyone close to me, but still it had an effect and yet to think - as PBS Newshour anchor John Yang mentioned on tonight's show - that in two days we have as many Americans dead of COVID-19 as we did on September 11, 2001, I don't imagine I could have dealt with that thought back then.

I will probably not be alive any longer 20 years from now and so I am not worried about how COVID will affect me mentally but I bet a lot of young folk will find it is with them in the background of their lives forever.

Thank you for giving us this forum to tell our stories because everyone is unique and part of history. Thanks be to God.

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Stories of September 11