Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11: The Events as Experienced by a Young Mother in San Diego

Geneabloggers is encouraging genealogy bloggers to record their own memories of 9/11, so here are mine.

We were living in San Diego at the time, which is three hours behind New York, and were woken about 6:30 by a phone call from my mother-in-law not long after the south tower of the World Trade Center was hit. We turned on the radio since we didn't have a television, and turned on the computer and followed the internet coverage. 

We had three small children, ages five, four, and one. My husband would walk our kindergartener to school each morning and then catch the bus to his work in front of the school. We felt very vulnerable and didn't want to lose sight of our family members, so we all walked the kindergartener up to school and then my husband and I walked home and he went to work from there and I read coverage of the events and listened to the radio and tried to shield my children from the news coverage and from my emotions as much as possible.

The day after the attacks, if I remember correctly, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir put on a special broadcast with music and words from President Gordon B. Hinckley and others. We attended the broadcast at the Mt. Abernathy Chapel, and I recall during the music and influence of the Spirit the dramatic change from feeling almost frantic with grief and anxiety to feeling calm, but still very sad. 

Ten years later, I only have to think about those events for a few seconds to have tears come to my eyes. It was all so sad, even happening at the distance it did, and not knowing any of the victims.

A few other memories:
  • We saw a veteran at the Tabernacle Choir broadcast wearing a baseball cap that said, "Pearl Harbor Survivor." 
  • Our next door neighbor in the apartment complex was a single, mid-20s Middle-Eastern man. Shortly after the attacks, he packed up some of his belongings and disappeared. Some of the hijackers had been living in San Diego before the attacks, but I always assumed that our neighbor had no connection to the attackers but might have had visa problems and felt threatened.
  • It was not until a year later that I saw television coverage of the events, and the images were even more horrific than the print and radio coverage. 
  • People started flying American flags everywhere. A nearby construction site flew a large American flag from the construction crane.
  • My husband and I listened to a broadcast performance of Brahms' German Requiem from a cathedral in New York City a few days after the events. Ever since then, that music has been among my "mourning music," the selections that I listen to when I am mourning a death of a family member or a member of the community of families of children with congenital heart defects. I am listening to it right now.
September 11, 2001 was a sad day for our country and the events of the subsequent ten years have been complicated and divisive in many ways, but it was an amazing thing to see the outpouring of national sentiment and common mourning and grief after the attack on our country.

Today, to commemorate the events of ten years ago, we will be watching the Tabernacle Choir's broadcast, "Rise Above," remembering the events. It will be shown a number of times on NBC stations and networks (schedule here) or on BYU-TV.

Picture of the World Trade Center as seen from the Brooklyn Bridge in July 2001 under a Creative Commons license from

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