September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document

Story:On September 11, 2001, I was here at my home in Danville, California. My mother, Hilda Marcin, was flying from Newark, NJ to San Francisco, CA that day and I was up early getting ready to pick her up at the airport. My mom Hilda was 79 years old (young), had retired in June, 2001 from her job as an instructional aide to special needs children. She lived and worked in Budd Lake, New Jersey. Upon her retirement, she decided she would like to try living a good part of the year with my husband Tom and I here in California. So, September 11, 2001 was her moving day. She was a passenger aboard United Flight 93. When I heard the news of the Twin Towers being hit by planes (actually saw the 2nd plane hit a little after 6 a.m. pacific time), I froze, terrified and afraid for my mom. I ran upstairs and told my husband what was happening in New York and he assured me my mother's plane was already well on its way to California. I called United and they said everything was OK and the United 93 was scheduled to land on time. All I can say is that morning was the most terrifying and horrific day of my life. I feared so for my mother's safety; I prayed, cried, and made so many phone calls I cannot even remember them all. Later that morning, my sister Betty who lives in New Jersey and took my mom to Newark Airport that morning, and I were speaking on the phone, comparing notes, wondering who to call next. We both had on the TV and were watching CNN when the news flash appeared stating "United Flight 93 bound for San Francisco from Newark crashes in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania". I get chills when I write those words. My sister and I dropped our phones and both fell to the floor crying, screaming and physically sick from the news. It was not real to us; it could not be, not our beautiful mom. My husband immediatley left work, came home, where we hugged and cried in the driveway. Shortly thereafter, neighbors stopped by, some crying, some leaving flowers and notes. My husband Tom and I then went to see our priest; even he was at a loss for words. That evening, our church had a special service and they mentioned my mom's name; I still was in shock; could not believe any of it. Then and there, the long journey began. A journey that continues today and will for the rest of my life. I am heartbroken, not just over the loss of my mom, but for all the 9/11 families I have come to know and love. What we have suffered has been at times almost too much for anyone to bear. I hope and pray it never happens again.

Memory:My strongest memory is the coming together of people in support of others. I cannot remember much about my own pain because it was so strong, so sickening, so difficult to put words to it. I do remember the stories of heroism; people helping others get up off the ground in New York; watching it on TV, at the time not realizing how my life would be changed forever. I wanted to get to Shanksville so bad, but couldn't unless we got in the car. My husband and I waited to see how the airlines would handle us, and three days later we were on our way to Pittsburgh, and then driven to Shanksville along with the other Flight 93 families. It was the longest three days of my life; waiting to get there.

Affects:Personally, I have been affected in many ways. I lost my dear mom, my best friend, a woman who gave to others all her life and just wanted to spend the rest of her life enjoying the time she had left. She was healthy and looking forward to her stay with us. I have never been the same since that day. I have not flown much, only when necessary, and then I take tranquilizers. Every time I get on a plane, I visualize what happened on Flight 93 and how the passengers and crew members may have been acting/reacting. It's frightening and it haunts me. I have become involved in the FLight 93 Memorial process; am on the Task Force as Co-Chair of the Government Relations Committee; I write the Flight 93 Family Newsletter monthly for all the families. I am totally engulfed in something I would have never dreamed in a thousand years to be a part of; I sometimes have to remember that there were only 40 people on that plane -- what are the odds one of them would be my mom?

The country has been affected dramatically as well, but I think most people have moved on with their lives since then. If you live in the West as I do, people were never as affected emotionally as in the East. It's just too far removed from their everyday lives. There are some of us in the West who where directly affected, but not like the numbers in the NY area. The isolation of that hasn't helped us much, but yet I do understand from my friends and family in the East that sometimes it is overwhelming for them being in the news constantly. I think people generally are more cautious now though, especially about flying. I think fliers are more aware of their surroundings and have accepted the security changes as a vital part of life. I know when I fly I look at everyone on the plane to see if they look suspicious in any way and like the passengers and crew on Flight 93; I would be ready for a good fight if necessary. The country has become more patriotic especially since our young men and women have been sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. I support them 100% as does most of the country. I just feel so, so bad for all the 9/11 families; it's been a tough road for most and will continue to be forever. All the children left without parents; we still don't know the long term psychological affects. I can speak for myself though and say without question that I am a changed person; will never be the same again. I only hope to find peace and answers in the coming years.


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