September 11th 2011 La Paz Baja California Sur.
Like the day JFK was shot forty-eight years ago, September 11, 2001 is a day everyone will remember, they will remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when the news came of the first attacks at the Twin Towers in New York.
I was in La Paz, we had just returned from a trip to California.
I was watching CNN, the black ugly smoke was pouring out of Tower 1. And across the screen rolled the words that Secretary of transportation, Norm Minetta had closed all US borders and airspace. It was like an iron curtain had dropped and I was cut off from my country, my homeland, my family and friends.
I had plans to go segunda shopping for patio furniture with a Mexican friend. She understood completely when I told her I was too sad to leave the house. And to go shopping seemed frivolous in the face of what had happened in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, PA.
And I was afraid to go to town. Mexico’s fate is so closely tied to what happens in the US, I was sure the locals would tell me to go home and take my terrorism with me.
Just the opposite occurred.
My beloved works for a Mexican government agency. His colleagues were surprised that he went to work that day. They stopped in at his office, they sent emails, and they called, all offering their condolences. He did come home early, we were both too sad, and too scared to do much but watch the horror replay and replay.
We were building a swimming pool, and I had developed camaraderie with the workers and would ask them every day if that was the day I could swim. They would laugh and say “No, senora, maybe tomorrow.”
Our architect, their, boss drove out to the house to offer his condolences. I saw him talking to the men. Then a knock came, they were all lined up at my door and one by one they shook my hand, and said “So sorry, we are sorry.” They wanted to know if I had family that could have been hurt. I told them I had family and friends that could well have been at the Trade Center and I would not know for sure for many days if anyone I knew and loved was hurt.
In fact smoke and soot and debris rained down on my home town Atlantic Highlands, NJ, just a few miles by sea to New York City.
In the days and weeks that followed, everywhere I went, Mexicans would stop me and other Gringos on the street and take our hands and say “So sorry, we are so sorry.” My friend , the one I cancelled the shopping day with said there were no Gringos in town for a few days, it felt odd to her, but she understood how frightened and saddened we all were.
Ten years later we honored the dead, and the heroes of flight 93. They took a vote on the plane that was certainly going to be their death trap. They voted to take the plane down and not allow it to hit another target. Ten years later bagpipes wailed in New York and Pennsylvania recalling how many rescuers died.
Ten years later, we feel it like it happened yesterday.
May something like this never happen again…anywhere.