Memory is a strange thing.

There are many things I remember about the attacks on 9/11/01:  The first announcement when I was at my desk in Providence that a “small plane” had hit the World Trade Center, the announcement of a second “small plane” and then the reality; the collapse of the buildings, something that was unimaginable; the films of people jumping from windows above the flames; and the images of medical staff at St. Vincent’s Hospital and elsewhere who waited for thousands of injured who never appeared because there were so few survivors.

But three things keep coming back to me.

First, the missing persons flyers posted throughout downtown New York City.  Whether on walls or held up by relatives on the street, each poster represented grieving families and friends:

Second, the sound of the PASS (Personal Alert Safety System) alarms worn by firemen, which continued chirping after the buildings collapsed, each one representing a life lost.  I never have been able to erase that sound from my memory:

Third, the farewell messages from people trapped above the flames or on Flight 93 left on answering machines of loved ones.

The one I remember most vividly was that of Melissa Harrington Hughes who was visiting New York on business.  Melissa did speak to her father, who recounts the events here, and then left this message for her husband who was asleep in San Francisco and didn’t answer the phone in time.  When he tried to call her back, the call didn’t go through.

Those are my memories.

Added:  While it’s still live, I’ll include the live feed of the reading of the names today.  It’s very moving as relatives are reading the names. [reading over, embed removed 1:15 p.m.]


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