9.01.2015

Show + Tell Tuesday {9/11}

Today's Show & Tell Tuesday is near and dear to my heart.
I've posted about it before, but couldn't pass up posting about it again. 
Linking up with Andrea!


September 11, 2001
September 11th
9.11.019-11Nine Eleven.A date that will never be forgotten.One Tuesday morning I will never, ever forget.
I can't believe it has been 14 years.Where were you on 9/11?
I was 22 & had graduated from college a few months before. Kevin and I had officially started dating 2 days before on 9/9/01.On Tuesday, 9/11 we had plans to meet at a local coffee shop before work like we had done for the past few weeks.Ironically, Kevin was taking the day off work because he had an interview at the local fire department to become a volunteer firefigher. What are the odds?I remember waking up to the alarm on my radio & hearing about the twin towers. I couldn't believe it nor did I understand the impact it would have on our country. I met Kevin at the local coffee/bagel shop we always met at and we talked with people about what was going on. Everyone was in shock. I went to work ( I was working for my dad at the time) and we were listening to the radio all day. That evening & night we went to Reid & Kelly's and our eyes were glued to the TV watching the coverage. It was surreal. I will never forget those images.
A few months after 9/11 a group of 20 people from our church had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to New York City to volunteer at St. Paul's Chapel & the NYC Salvation Army. I knew I had to go. So, I went. (My sisters also came on the trip) We got special clearance passes that we had to wear at all times:I can't even put into words the experience I had.The words I have type won't even do it justice.I fell in love with the people of NYC, the NYPD & the FDNY.(Please excuse the quality of my pictures, I scanned them in)I went in honor of the men, women, police officers & FDNY who lost their lives on this day. I went to serve those who were serving others. It was a trip that changed me. It was an experience that I will treasure in my heart for the rest of my life. The city of New York & the FDNY holds a special place in my heart.My sisters & I all got to work together on the same shifts. Because we were the "younger" ones on the trip, we were signed up for the graveyard shifts on both nights.The first night we worked from 8 pm to 8 am at St. Pauls Chapel at the edge of Ground Zero. St Paul's Chapel had become the home base for all of the NYPD, FDNY & construction workers who were clearing out the debris from the Twin Towers.At St. Paul's Chapel the PD, FD & workers could come to the church for meals, dry clothes, showers, tolietries, a place to sleep or a place to go talk to someone or pray.St. Pauls chapel was at the edge of the World Trade Centers & was miraculously untouched by all of the debris of the Twin Towers falling. It became a rest & relief center for the workers. The outside walls of the church became a memorial where visitors came & posted letters & American flags.Our job was to help get food prepared &, get them supplies & be available to talk to them & keep their spirits up. The night we were there, it was mostly firefighters from FDNY who were coming to the church. As we served them food they would re-count their 9/11 stories to us. They told us what they did on 9/11, how they responded to the call & the family & friends that they had lost.These were real stories with faces to the stories. It was heartbreaking & tragic. But there was also hope. The American spirit was alive. People were crying out to God in despair, but also looking to Him because He is the one who brings hope, peace & love in the midst of crisis.One firefighter, Jack K (FDNY Ladder 54) poured out his heart to my and my sister. He was a firefighter who came from a family of fire fighters. The past year he had gone through a divorce. He told us of the uncle, cousin & brother that he lost on 9/11. He was so grateful to us & couldn't believe we came all the way from California to help out. (It was the LEAST I could do!) Despite all the serious conversations & tears that were shed, he was also a jokester & kept giving me a hard time about being 22 and getting married at such a young age.Toward the end of the night, Jack told me & 2 other girls to come with him so he could give us a closer look at ground zero. He let us into the FDNY Suburban & drove us into the "pit" of ground zero so we could get an up close look at what was going on.We had to cross through all this secruity & the pit of Ground Zero was 20 stories below street level. "The pit" took up 17 acres! It was HUGE!The pit during the day:The pit at night:It was where the Twin Towers once stood. I couldn't believe how big it was.It was amazing & horrifying at the same time.I know these pictures of the chain link fence don't mean anything to you, but these are the only pictures I was allowed to take when I went into the pit. (I actually wasn't supposed to take pictures, but I did anyways!) I wanted to document it so that I would remember it. Being at the bottom of "the pit" and looking up was surreal. We had to wear a mask in the pit because of all the toxins that had been released in the air from the Twin Towers falling. A few months after I got back from the trip I had a package from the NY Deptartment of Health 9/11 Registry. I have to fill out a questionnaire every year to make sure I have no "health" effects from being at Ground Zero.The next night we had the graveyard shift at the Salvation Army Respite Center on the other edge of the WTC. The Salvation Army set up "The Bubble", which was a huge white tent. It was seriously huge, about the size of a football field, but all enclosed.We served hot meals here & beds were set up for the workers. The Bubble was mostly for the construction workers & clean up crew. I honestly don't remember much about this night because I was so delirious from lack of sleep, we had only gotten 3 hours of sleep in 48 hours. I remember serving food & clearing people's plates. At that point, I was emotionally & physically overwhelmed. This is Becks & I on the subway back to the hotel after our 2nd shift. So exhausted!Below is a picture I took of the Miracle Cross. On 9/11 when the Twin Towers collapsed, a Cross of steel girders was somehow left standing, torn away from the rubble and destruction of the Twin Towers. Henceforth the Miracle Cross. It is a reminder to all that with our faith and prayer in God we will overcome what was brought upon us that day.The cross still stands today, a silent testament to the power of hope. It has become a destination for visitors to ground zero, and is part of the memorial for the WTC.
It was a mission trip I will never forget. I have been on several mission trips before. In high school I went to Mexico 3 times to build houses & work at an orphanage for a week. In the spring of 2006 I went to build houses for Hurricane Katrina relief, but this mission trip to NYC has still impacted me big time, almost 8 years later. I am thankful for the opportunity I had to go & serve in that capacity.

View of the NY skyline with the Twin Towers missing:
To the Heroes who responded on that day, you will never be forgotten.To those who lost loved ones on 9/11, may they never be forgotten.
Thank you to all of the men and women in our town, county, state and country who choose to serve to protect our freedom and insure our safety.


Whenever I think of New York City, I think of my time volunteering there. 
NYC holds a special place in my heart.
Because I volunteered at the Pit & where the Twin Towers were, there was paper work I had to fill out when we volunteered. Every 6 months since I volunteered I get a letter/questionnaire from the New York Health Registry asking about my health & if I have any breathing complications or other complications from helping near the destruction. (I don't have any side effects, but I think it is amazing that 14 years later, they still check on my health & I was just a volunteer.) They also call once a year to ask more questions & check in.
 
9/11/01....I will never forget.
Where were you on 9/11?
It is a day I will never forget.

10 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, this post just gave me goose bumps and a lump in my throat. That is amazing that you could volunteer your time, what an impact that must have had on you.

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  2. Everything that Foxy said! and that steel beam cross.....wow

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  3. Mel - what a wonderful post - thanks for sharing! So wonderful that you and your sisters volunteered. Like Erin said, wow, to the steel beam cross...

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  4. I worked in NYC at the time at an office on 41st. I can still recall every detail of that day as though it was yesterday, or in a movie I'd seen. It seems too surreal to have even happened. Hard to believe it's been fourteen years...

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  5. It's been so interesting reading everyone's 9/11 stories. Thank you for sharing yours. That is amazing the health registry still contacts you! Fascinating.

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  6. I never knew about the cross but that is so amazing! What an experience you'll never forget. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Mel...I'm so glad you shared this! I hadn't heard about the miracle cross either but wow!

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  8. Oh Mel that is an amazing story. What an experience to serve those who served NYC so well. Thanks so much for sharing

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  9. How dang cool that you went and volunteered in NYC. I've been dying to go on a mission trip there. I think it would've been an experience in and of itself just to go and talk to all the Firefighters, police, etc. I'm jealous :)

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