Losing memory of 9/11


Maria Session

At approximately 9 a.m. September 11, 2001 Ground Zero is barricaded for three-mile radius from civilians. By the next morning the borders had extended even further.

Xylina Session, Editor-in-Chief

In an ever growingly post-9/11 world, the distance between students and events of historical significance grows ever wider. For those who can cite the moments of trauma that brought America to h

Surgical masks protect the pedestrians from the deadly dust. One man on a bike snaps a shot of an event that will change history.
Maria Session
Surgical masks protect the pedestrians from the deadly dust. One man on a bike snaps a shot of an event that will change history.

er knees so many years ago, the tears still fall as heavy and as fresh as the debris that rained that day.

Joachim Session, my father, begins with the story of his co-worker.

“Stanley Weinstein,” he said. “When I hear ‘nine-eleven’, he is the first person that comes to my mind.” Dad worked with Weinstein on the 30th floor of Video Monitoring Services (VMS), a building adjacent to the Port Authority bus terminal on 42nd Street New York City at the time. Weinstein’s daughter worked on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower, the second tower that was hit. Somehow, he managed to get ahold of her amidst the phone line overload during the attack. “He was saying, ‘go up as high as you can. Go up to the rooftop,’ because maybe a helicopter could come and start rescuing these people who are stranded in the other building.” Weinstein grasped for faith, but unfeigned goodbyes were inevitable. “I remember [his] daughter [saying] ‘please help my husband take care of my kids.’”

As jet-fuel-infused flames were consuming the eight floors below her, the North tower was giving way to a structure failure. Suddenly, Video Monitoring Service’s 30th office floor flocked to the windows and let loose wails of pain and fear as the 110-story concrete giant reduced to a mass of detritus within 15 seconds.

“When the first tower crumbled, I knew that he lost hope,” said my father. “It was just a matter of time before the next building.” The phone lines shut down. An office of helpless colleagues scrambled for reconnection with Weinstein’s daughter, who was watching the building burn through the window.

The South Tower was now his daughter’s prison, the 56-passenger plane that hit it a fire-breathing dragon, whose flames were slowly tentacling up for her. Then the South Tower succumbed to the fate of her sister. The biggest structures of Manhattan were now a 1.8 million ton grave. Weinstein fell to his knees in time with the gray rubble. “He was crying like a little boy,” said Dad. “It was as if somebody took his spirit away from him.”

Meanwhile, my mom, Maria Session, had her own nightmare that morning within the confinement of her home. After watching footage on the news, she phoned the schools. Schools who were still unaware. My brother’s class had been planning on a field trip that would take them downtown. Within the next hour, my sister and my brother were checked out of school and safe at home.

While waiting for my father, she watched reruns of news footage. “[. . .] you see people jumping out of the tower,” she said. “That was just  something you will never forget for the rest of your life. People looking for their loved ones and crying and praying and carrying pictures.”

Manhattan, home to the towers, is the largest and busiest of the boroughs. “They sealed Manhattan,” said Mom. “No phone, no anything. We just had to pray the whole afternoon until Dad came home that night.”

Public transport was shut down. Bus depots and subways closed. Every taxi was trapped in the city. The amount of people who commute to work from out of Manhattan almost doubles Manhattan’s total population. Everyone who had come in to work from the other four boroughs that day was left with the final option of trekking across bridges to their home.

“It was like an Exodus,” said Dad. “Millions of people walking.”  A mass of people bottlenecked at the mouth of the Queensboro bridge, where Ground Zero survivors gathered to  try to get home to their families, too. Silent and sober, covered with ash.

“You couldn’t recognize their faces. It was gray, their countenance, their hair, their clothing,” he said. “But the first thing you notice is the markings of the tears on their faces.” He traces his finger down his cheek, drawing an image for me that I will never truly see.

The bridge was packed till the end, where volunteer carpools were waiting. Restaurants were distributing bottles of water and soda on the street, and some homes were offering restroom use.

“All of a sudden everybody was concerned about each other. Helping one another, everyone was polite,” said Dad. A day marked for anguish is streaked with memories of humanity. Of the estimated 36,000 units of blood donated, 258 units were actually used. Sung and unsung heroism echo in a harmony that almost overpowers the cries of sorrow. “You never realize how much [people] are willing to give. . . regardless of color and race,” said Mom.

Next year, while a gathering commemorates the 15-year anniversary of September 11, 2001, the children who were born that year will be learning how to drive. The understanding of deep change adheres with older generations; the begriming issue for the younger is remembrance.

Sophomore Delaney Jordan said about September 11, 2015, “We didn’t really talk about it this year. It was sad. We talk about it every year. There was a moment of silence on the bus this morning, but that was it.”

With significance borne regularly, roads will be filled with accountable members of recognition. The impact of 9/11 reaches across a span of individual human emotion and global effect. “Everybody got scared. Not really scared to die, I think. But you’re scared especially if your kids are with you. Scared of what’s gonna happen. Everything changed,” said Mom. “It affected the economy, it affected our way of living. Our lifestyle.”

As a landmark in history, every single day after is measured by it. “We should as a generation definitely take a step back and analyze the connections that the past generations had to 9/11 and the repercussions that arose from it,” said junior, Cormac Romine. “And I definitely think that we should use those connections from the past to help us identify problems within our future and how we can avoid [them].”

We cannot fix those problems if we do not lift the apathy shadowing them.The consequences of a terrorist attack are less easy to notice when they are a part of regular rehearsal. Connection and memory to that day tick further away with every other passing thought. Every step further in the direction of apathy is a step closer to a future filled with children who would have grown up learning the importance of parallel parking more than the significance of the flag they were forced to pledge to every day.