Monday, September 11, 2017

Remembering Sept. 11,2001 when something evil this way came

A pivotal day in history for the world and we were there

By Patti Covello Pietschmann

We were there.  My husband and I were in New York on September 11, 2001, but it feels like it was yesterday. We flew in from Los Angeles two days before the catastrophic event which, like so many of us, is  emblazoned in the memory forever--every  terrible, gut-wrenching moment.  Our only consolation was the day  Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed.  God forgive me, but I prayed for that to happen.

When Bin Laden's evil followers flew airplanes into World Trade Center we were staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in a suite on the 43rd floor with a clear view of the Twin Towers from a picture window.  
We actually  arrived the night of September 9th.  The next day, September 10 was an absolutely perfect Manhattan day. Warm, but not muggy. Everyone seemed to be going about business as usual.
My husband and I were there on assignments for a couple of magazines. The day before the worst disaster to hit the US happened, couldn't have been more perfect. We met friends and editors for lunch, cocktails, dinner, walked all over the city.  I enjoyed a fabulous session in a New York spa for a piece I was working on.

We enjoyed a delightful dinner at the Four Seasons with friends and went to bed around midnight.  For me it was a fitful sleep.  I felt anxious.  I dreamed of carnage and buildings falling down and told my husband about the nightmare when we woke up about two hours before the first plane hit the tower. I actually saw the second plane hit and couldn’t believe my eyes. I blinked and thought, “This can’t be happening.”  The aircraft looked so tiny from our window, like a toy plane someone was flying.”

The events that ensued were so horrific that I was forced to undergo psychiatric therapy when we returned to Los Angeles several days later.  We watched people diving out of windows, we smelled the burning flesh.  We  saw the anguish, the fear, the shock.  It was the wickedest day of everybody's life.
The only good was the calm that overcame the city. People sat in sidewalk cafes speaking quietly. You could walk the streets with no worries. Even muggers, thieves and bottom crawlers felt the pain.

I could write a book, but suffice it say, the New Yorkers really pulled through and came to each other's aid. We sat with a man at the Four Seasons bar who had lost all his entire staff, but one that day. His company was based in the World Trade Center.  He was spending the day meeting clients at the hotel. His only surviving employee escaped because while he was having breakfast in the Windows of the World with his work mates, he decided his shirt need ironing and left to take it the cleaners. While he was gone, the tower was hit. Amen.

Our bar mate was so distraught, he cried on my shoulder as  I held this  complete stranger's hand and we cried and cried  buckets of tears together. My eyes still tear up when I think about the innocent people who left for work that morning never to return; and the fire fighters and volunteers who died trying to save others. The fruitlessness of it all.

We couldn't fly home for several days and it wasn't easy getting out the city, but we did  finally get a car to drive out to Long Island. Lucky for us I have a cousin  with a summer home in the Hamptons who put us up  until planes were operating again.  It was good to be with loved ones (he's my favorite cousin) and of course my husband (my best friend) was there, and we ate and drank and went to bars and mingled with all the other people who were still in shock and drinking hard and fast trying to forget what just happened.
But of course we never will. The anniversary of 9/11 is just six days away and 15 years old. Evil still  continues to plague  the world through senseless terrorist acts and all we can do is remain  diligent and pray for peace which for now appears to be very allusive.