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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 - Memories of a Former Foreigner

(This is an annual "reprinting" of my first ever post from Sept. 11, 2011 - lest I one day forget why I wrote it.)


The thing I remember most about 9/11 is how selfish I felt - at the very beginning.

September 11th was supposed to be the day I paid my debts and made some serious money. I clearly remember the last thing I said as my balding head hit the soft pillow on the 10th: "Tomorrow is going to be a great day, man, tomorrow is going to be a great day."

Source: Anthony Grimley
Five months prior to 9/11 and new to California, I had met several fellow Irishmen at a pub or six, which networked into an interview with a starched suit who looked me up and down to see if I could sell gold coins.

"I can sell a Yankees hat in Boston, or a Cowboys jersey in New York, surely I can sell a little coin over the phone?" I said, full of the optimism of the uninformed American sports fan.

My new boss didn't really care. I'd earn a bare stipend for a couple of months, and then work on one hundred percent commission, so no skin off his nose.

They call the big investors "whales," and it took five months of living off credit cards to reel two in. One lived in New York; the other was in Jersey. I arranged great deals with both retired men; deals that culminated on Monday the 10th, and happy as a pig in a blanket, I later went for a few drinks with the boys, having promised my whales that they'd receive the official paperwork via fax before noon EST Tuesday.

That's the only reason I was up at 5:50 a.m. PST, but as soon as I saw the plane hit the second tower just after 6 a.m. my time, I knew the deals were done - and so was I. (I had no clue how bad it would be - did anyone?)

I wallowed in pity for about thirty-five minutes until I heard another plane had crashed into the Pentagon. Driving to work in my new, unpaid-for Mustang, I jumped up as far as my seatbelt would allow, and let out a scream of hurt and anger I hope my ears will never again endure.

As an immigrant with naturalization papers in process, I had no doubt that the attack was on my country (I swore in July 3, 2003,) and my people.

In October 2001, I tried joining the USAF, but the recruiter told me a 19-year-old's pay "ain't going to take care of the credit problems belonging to a 31-year-old."

On 9/11, as always, I'll wear my Liz Claiborne WTC shirt that I bought 'cos the Statue of Liberty looks cool in the forefront (it was 2002 before I "saw" the Twin Towers for the first time.) I will also reflect on how I awoke thinking only about me, but ended the day thinking only about "U.S." and the thousands whose lives had been destroyed by hate and fear.

May the good God bless the souls of all those lost on 9/11, and Lord, please continue to protect those who, with a servant's heart, always run into harms way while we scream to get the hell out of there.

Thomas J. Foley, 32, Rescue 3, FDNY, died in the collapse of Tower 2, WTC, New York, 9.59 am, 9/11/01. RIP


Anonymous said...

Very sobering thoughts on this 09/11.
I too wrote about today 12 years ago and three years previously.


Optimistic Existentialist said...

I'm glad that a lot of us are blogging about this today. Seems like only yesterday doesn't it?

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

Absolutely beautiful post ... I found you through Keith's blog and I am glad I stopped by today!!

Deanie Humphrys-Dunne said...

This is a beautiful blog. May we always remember that horrific event and pray for those directly affected. May God forever watch over our country.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

What a great remembrance of the people we lost. We also lost our innocence that day thinking that America is untouchable by bad people.

Unknown said...

Somber reminder. Thanks Mark.

Misha Gerrick said...

9/11 definitely changed how we thought.

Thank you for sharing that moment of your life with us.

Donna K. Weaver said...

This is such a somber day. We cannot forget.

~Sia McKye~ said...

It was a shocker of day, I'll say that. My mom and I stopped at the bank to get make a deposit and everyone was glued to the TV screen they have in the bank. It was a moment of unreality. Mom and I heard someone else say that that airliner had hit one of the towers but we didn't believe him. As Americans, we weren't accustomed to having war and carnage brought to our shores like this. I don't think anyone will forget it.

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Horrible day.
You are a true patriot, Mark.

Melissa said...

One of my twins sat up for the first time that day. I looked away from the news on the TV screen and realized he was sitting unaided. Not to minimize the losses that day, but that's the way I choose to remember September 11th. There was at least one thing to smile about.

Elephant's Child said...

My heart hurts for everyone lost to violence. Wherever they are, whoever they are.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark .. couldn't agree more - with thoughts for all who have lost loved ones in War ...... Hilary

klahanie said...

Dear Mark,

A day etched into our minds with horror over such atrocity. The day the world changed, forever.

It was the day that touched all civilized people. We are all citizens of the earth. Many of us united in the cause that is peace.

A poignant and powerful posting, my friend.


Yolanda Renée said...

Wonderful post, beautiful tribute, and so very, very sad, that we continue to have these episodes to remind us of the inhumanity of our world. I remember that day clearly too, and it felt like the end, in some ways it was!

Unknown said...

9/11 is always a day that I will remember with soberness. I actually wrote a post about 9/11 too. I thought it was important to give respect to those that were lost and did loose.

Great post and I'm glad people are still remembering.

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