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Friday, September 11, 2015

9/11 - Never Forget...

(This is the annual "reprinting" of my inaugural post on 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


Elephant's Child said...

Yes. And thank you.
And please, please can we learn better. All of us.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I remember your story of that morning.
Blessings to all who were affected by that tragedy.

Jo said...

Matt was out golfing and a friend called me to turn on the TV. I thought the first one was an accident. Matt didn't hear about any of it until it was over.

Melissa said...

I was staying at home with the kids then. I just sat there all day, watching the news and feeling numb.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written, Mark. I was working my corporate job when the first plane hit, and actually saw the second. The company sent us home, and I changed into uniform and went to my squad. Spent the entire day into the evening by the waterfront waiting for survivors to come across via ferry.

Sadly, there were too few. RIP to all who were lost on this tragic day. Hugs to you Mark.

Cynthia said...

My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones on that terrible horrific day.

Crystal Collier said...

Such a sobering experience. I think that day touched all of us who remember it, and it stands for something. Tragedy breeds more than just sorrow.

David Powers King said...

I had just started college and was swimming lapse in the early morning when these events all started. Never expected what I would discover upon exiting the water. Thank you for sharing, Mark. :)

Sheena-kay Graham said...

It is a day that shocked the world.

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