I had the honor of going to NYC the week of November 11th, 2001. Two months after the tragedy that impacted our nation, I flew from TX to NY. I went as a staff member with a group called Campus Crusade for Christ (now just Cru). We met up there to help how we could and to bring the hope of Christ to teenagers in the area. While there, I snapped some photos. They are from a poor quality camera unfortunately. 10 years ago I had no idea I’d have a blog. They were never meant to be posted. But, I want to share some of them today with all of you as we remember the men and women who lost their lives, the rescue workers who gave their lives and all of the heroes from that day.
Our group flew in on an American Airlines plane which was almost empty due to AA planes being among those that crashed only two months earlier. This afforded me the right to act silly on the way back and to serve drinks to everyone on the plane as I pretended to be a flight attendant. But, the gravity of the recent event hit home as we exited the plane. There were military men with assault rifles throughout the airport keeping an eye on everyone.
We visited Ground Zero. The surrounding blocks were still wrought with destruction. Streets were covered in inches of debris and dust for blocks. Windows were shattered in nearby buildings. Police were blocking streets. Make-shift memorials were set up. The area was silent and reverent. Here are some of the sites we saw.
To be honest, with this having been my first visit to NYC, I wasn’t certain what I was looking at other than it being right next to the main building site. If you know, please do share.
(Edit: Ann pieced much of this together for me in her comment. Thank you!)
Looking into the direct site. What struck me was that after two months with workers working around the clock, not much had changed at the main site. They had been focusing on cleaning up blocks away so that those businesses and streets could return to normal.
I still get teary eyed looking at these photos. There were so many make-shift memorials in the immediate area. But, I think the most moving thing for me is still the footage that is shown of people actually jumping from the burning towers. I cannot imagine having such terrifying choices that jumping seemed like the thing to do. I still hurt for them.
Possibly the thing from this trip that has stayed with me the most and that moved me the most were the nearby parking garages. There were cars being claimed as we stood there. Claimed by loved ones for people they lost. I thought about those who parked that morning not knowing what the day held.
I happened to snap a photo of this car. Can you see the dust and dents from the happenings on that fateful day?
A little closer up.
And, as we peered inside, it only hit home how that morning felt like any other morning. Day planner and coffee cup still in the car. Now, dust covered the personal items in the recently used vehicle. The person who steered it through traffic probably no longer with us.
I still can barely imagine how this pile of rubble was not one but two buildings that once stood 110 stories high filled with furniture, computers, paperwork, and people. All reduced to a pile of dust and mangled metal. Papers were still on the ground where they had floated down from the buildings as they collapsed.
Workers were still working hard to clear the streets and had not even done much at all at the actual site.
My team and I went to Queens a couple of days after we arrived. We were helping a church there serve their community. Here is some of our team. That’s me kneeling.
While on the Subway on November 12, 2001, on our way to Queens, another plane crashed in… a residential area of Queens.
We were all shocked and scared. Immediately after we got off the subway, the entire subway system was shut down for several hours. The city was on high alert. Emotions were high. We had no idea if this was another terrorist attack or not. Come to find out, after an investigation, this crash was due to a mechanical problem with the tail and rudder of the plane.
All 260 people aboard the plane and 5 people on the ground died that day, and the impact forces and a post-crash fire destroyed the plane.
While in Queens, we ministered at this school.
Letting these kiddos know that they are loved no matter what their ethnic background. We prayed for peace for everyone.
Our team as we were able to get back on the subway and back to our hotel near Times Square. That’s my aunt on the end.
I wish I had even more photos and photos of better quality. Sometimes you can go back to a place and retake shots once you have better equipment and know-how, but these are images that I can never ever capture again. May it never look this way again.
May we never forget.
My experiences were so small compared to others whose lives were altered that day. Though these images are not good photos by any standards, they are a piece of history that I have that reminds me of all of the heroes of that day and of our country’s resilience.
What are your experiences and memories of that time? Do you have any personal connections?
(RIP Max Torres (also kneeling in front of the graffiti). I just found out he is no longer with us due to a motorcycle crash. I adored him. He was always game for anything and had such a great attitude. He loved his family dearly and was very involved in inner city ministry in Houston, TX. He will be missed.)