Saturday, September 11, 2010

Through My Lens, Why I Will Never Forget...

Life before and after September 11, 2001.

I worked right down the block from the Trade Center. The picture above is from my first night back at work. I spent much of my shift crying. At first, I wasn't sure about taking any photos, I felt like I was intruding on the souls that were lost. A firefighter I knew from the South Street Seaport engine Company told me to take the pictures because it was history, horrible history, and it would be documented by so many of us, and we would all have our stories.

Lower Manhattan was still covered in the ash, buildings, the sidewalks, streetlights, it was everywhere. Our Military walked the streets. The South Street Seaport Fire House was draped in black. My building, covered in pictures and ash, had bomb sniffing dogs. The dogs were there for a few months after the attacks. There were pictures of those lost lovingly hung on buildings and anywhere they could possibly be attached. Signs beckoned to the searchers and rescue workers to come and rest for a little while, not many of them did, they were all at ground zero working to find survivors, recover their fallen, and put out the fires that still burned. You could tell which way the wind was blowing, or if a fire had been uncovered for weeks after the attacks by the smell outside my building. We would buy water and coffees for anyone in the Water Street Deli that we knew were working at Ground Zero. It was the least we could do.  A dear friend that I worked with and I walked the streets of lower Manhattan during our break at about 2:20AM September 22, 2001. These are just a few snapshots frozen in time, frozen in history.
Trinity Church
My shifts at the time were Monday and Tuesday, 4PM to 12AM. then on the weekends, I did the midnight shift. It was a perfect shift for me since it meant that my son was always with myself, my husband, or our family. I would take the trains during the week, but on weekends I drove. Manhattan was closed to car traffic my first few weeks back to work, so I would take the Staten Island Ferry there and back. This was my view coming home after my return to work.
I will never forget the events of the day. September 11, 2001. I will never forget the weeks and months that followed. I will never forget all those whose names are so gently spoken each year. The people I knew personally, and those I had never met, but am so touched by their lives. I will always remember.
May God bless them, their families, and our great country.


  1. What a beautiful tribute post, it brought tears to my eyes. I didn't personally know anyone who lost a loved one that day but I know how emotional it was (and still is) for me, and I can not imagine how much for you - I never realized you were so close to it all. Your photos are amazing.
    {{hugs}} to you.

  2. Thank you Denise. I was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Jersey City, and lived in Bayonne until we moved to South Jersey. We moved here because my son was commuting to Haddonfield from Bayonne (about a 90 mile trip one way) everyday to school. We wanted to be closer to school for him. We had just put a down-payment on our home the 2nd of September, 2001. He was in school when the attack happened, and the driver of his car came home without him! I never forgave her for that. He was stranded in Haddonfield, we couldn't get him because the NJ Turnpike was locked down. I was lucky that the school was able to find a place for him to stay for the night. That night, Pete and I were glued to the TV, when we suddenly heard helicopters and sirens, there were bright lights coming into our windows. The FBI was raiding an apartment around the corner from us. They seized boxes and bags of items connected to the attacks. I don't think they ever found the guy who lived there. The next day, the NJ State Troopers allowed us to drive the turnpike to get Danny. So much happened that day and night, it still takes my breath away.

  3. Colleen,
    what a beautiful post. I too don't personally know of anyone lost but am always emotionally moved by what others witnessed and felt during those horrible days.

  4. Thanks for this post. It is always amazing to hear from someone who was at ground zero. The most amazing thing to me was how the towers fell. I am convinced that God held those towers in his hands as they collapsed. Considering how much time and effort goes into the demolition process of buildings to get them to collapse straight down like that? Makes me realize what a miracle that was. He couldn't prevent the actions of the few evil people involved unfortunately. I am so glad you and your family are safe. Thanks again for taking the time to remember...from a military family still living with the consequences...