September 11 Digital Archive

[Untitled]

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Smithsonian website

How has your life changed because of what happened on September 11, 2001?

After 9/11, I left the financial services industry and returned to my first love, teaching. Since then, I've worked as an educator and instructional technology specialist in the New York City Dept of Education. I think it's important that we give back to our community and relish every day.

I am much more focused on experiencing life on a daily basis, treasuring the time with my children and family, developing special moments with my friends and living in the moment.

We never know how long our lives will be. Cease the day!

FNL

How will you remember the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks?

I was at home on 9/11, doing laundry. My kids were at school and it was the start of an ordinary, normal day. Suddenly, my mother appeared at the laundry room, out of breath. “A plane has hit the World Trade Center!”, she said. We raced back upstairs to the 15th floor and stared in disbelief at the images on television. Looking out my bedroom window, we saw the twin towers in the distance burning like smoke stacks! That’s when the tv images became real for us.

Panic set in. My kids were both in Manhattan! I will never forget the power of that urge to get to my kids. It was visceral. The only other time I’d felt something remotely similar was when I gave birth to my daughter, and demanded to see her so I could count her fingers and toes. At that moment, I needed to touch my children to make sure they were alright.

I called a dear friend, also a mother with two kids in Manhattan, and we set out to get them. We drove from Riverdale to the Broadway Bridge, and had to abandon the car when we learned that all bridges had been closed. We walked over the Broadway Bridge and found one of the last running subways that took us closer to the kids’ schools. At Central Park West, we walked to three schools – two on the west-side and one on the east to collect our kids. I found both of mine, safely huddled with their wonderful teachers in the school’s church.

I counted their fingers and toes when I saw them. I swear I must have touched them everywhere. I needed to make sure they were alright. The relief in their eyes at seeing their mom was probably the most wonderful feeling I’ve ever had. Their mom was there and everything was going to be okay.

The six of us then took the subway back north, walked over the Broadway Bridge and finally got home about five hours later. I remember seeing a Stealth bomber flying over Central Park when we walked through it. The sky was empty, but the bomber flew. Cut off from the media for so long, we had no idea of the scope of what had happened. Seeing the bomber told us that this event was monumental.

Safe at home with my kids in tow, I sat at my window watching the World Trade Center in the distance. I saw the smoke billowing over Brooklyn, watched every broadcast, answered emails from European friends, and eventually shut down. It was too overwhelming to process.

I don’t remember if I ever collected that laundry. It all had started out as a normal, beautiful fall day.

Frances Newsom-Lang

Citation

Frances Newsom-Lang, “[Untitled],” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed December 14, 2017, http://911digitalarchive.org/items/show/96779.