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Sunday, September 11, 2016

We Will *Never* Forget

(This is the annual "reprinting" of my inaugural post on Sept. 11, 2011 - lest one day I 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, I was new to California, but 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 then-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 it was no skin off his nose.

See, they call the big investors "whales," and it took five months of living off credit cards to reel two of them in for me. 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 went for a few drinks with the boys, having promised my whales they'd receive all 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."

So today, as always, I'll wear my then-new Liz Claiborne NYC skyline-themed shirt that I bought because the Statue of Liberty looks cool in the foreground. (It was only on the first anniversary of 9/11 that I "saw" the Twin Towers for the first time.)

I'll also reflect on how I awoke that day thinking only about me, but ended that evening thinking only about "U.S.," and the thousands whose lives had been destroyed by hate and fear.

May God bless the souls of all those lost on September 11, 2001, and Lord, please continue to protect those who, with a servant's heart, always run into harm's way while the rest of us scream just 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...

Never forgotten. And my heart aches for the family and friends for whom each day is a new and painful anniversary.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I remember this post. We all went through a range of emotions that day.

Deanie Humphrys-Dunne said...

Such a day of tragedy for our country. May we never forget the bravery of the victims and heroes.

Jo said...

Matt was out golfing and a friend called me to turn on the TV. We thought it was a horrible accident until the second plane hit. I was absolutely stunned as were most people I imagine.

LD Masterson said...

I was working for the American Red Cross on 9/11/2001 so I have some very specific memories of that day and the weeks that followed. But I prefer to remember 9/11/2003. That's the day my 77 year old mum-in-law was swore in as a U.S. citizen. I think you'll understand.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark ... I remember this post - and thought 'what unfortunate timing' ... to put it mildly. I was out trying to make earn some pennies - and all I hit were tvs - I went home! But quite understand why ....

Dreadful time for so many - we should not and will not forget - Hilary

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

9/11 is the real, 'never forget' moment of our time. I remember so clearly my emotions on that day, where I was and who I was with. Your post is touching every year.

Eva Wilson said...

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