Hubs and I were watching CNN that 11th day of September 2001. I went down to the kitchen to get some ice cream and when I got back in our room, I saw my husband's eyes glued to the television without blinking and his mouth slightly opened. "New York is being attacked", he finally said.
We just stood there in front of the television watching with great abhorrence and despondency. It was too surreal. Too horrific to be true. Unfortunately, it was.
My husband called his dad after a couple of hours.
"Are you watching CNN", my husband asked my father-in-law. They expressed their disgust regarding the atrocious attack and sympathy for the people of New York. Hubs asked if we were still pushing through with our trip to the US. "I don't see any reason why we shouldn't. They (terrorists) have to see that tourists will still go to the US inspite of what they did."
We were scheduled to visit the US a month and a half prior to 9/11 for my dad-in-law's check-up in Virginia. He was going to get a second opinion regarding another CABG procedure from his cardiologist in the said State. We left for the US a little over two weeks after the attack.
Security check at the airports were complete torture but understandable. I told the airport security that I'd have to draw the line at cavity searches. She just smiled and said, "no need for that".
We immediately felt the solemn vibe when we got to the city. Mom-in-law and I wept. We couldn't help it. We felt the pain and heartache from everyone in the street even without them uttering a single word.
I saw a fireman and immediately went up to him to let him know how much he's appreciated. He asked me where I was from, then he removed his hat and told me to wear it. I didn't know that that thing was so heavy! It felt like a toddler was sitting on my head! Can you just imagine what these brave men did? They went up the buildings with that heavy hat and heavier gears to save the lives of a lot of people they didn't know. That's not just doing one's job. That's beyond the call of duty. Beyond basic humanity.
And because we found a new level of appreciation for the NY firemen, J2 (hubs) and I bought a lot of FDNY shirts, caps, magnets, and keychains for all our friends and relatives back home.
There was this guy who approached us while we were clicking away at the ruins and asked if we're tourists. I confirmed his suspicion and out of nowhere, he grabbed me and gave me a tight hug! He thanked us for being there and condoling with the people of New York. I got a bit scared but was really touched.
A mixture of ash and concrete still lingered in the air when we went there.
It was the saddest trip to the US that I've ever made. Never did I imagine that I would see New York that way. Never. I will never understand why they did this. It was clearly an unforgivable act of gross turpitude. That's how I will forever see it.