Lost Dreams


Ten years gone. Ten years in time for those of us that
survived, ten years in missed opportunities, unrealized potential and ten years
of lost dreams for those that perished.

We will all reflect upon where we were and what we were doing
when the planes hit on that crisp beautiful September day in 2001. I was at
home getting dressed to go to work as a police detective in NJ.  As I saw the reports come in I knew I had to
get to work right away, and off I went. As I drove to work the reports of the
first tower collapsing blared at me over the car radio. I was dumbfounded,
until I looked towards the northern horizon and could see the smoke and dust
rising from the area the towers once stood. Panic calls from my wife, should
she get the kids from school. What should she do? I was in complete police
officer mode then, not husband mode, I didn’t offer her words of comfort the
way a husband should. I told her not to panic, to remain calm and let me find
out what is going on. My wife often suffers from my “police officer”
persona in times of crisis and never gets the benefit of a husband that truly
shows the vulnerable side that she may sometimes need. I was scared but I had
to maintain control. I always cherish and appreciate the fact that she has in
the past and continues to understand who I am and my reactions are based on

There was confusion at police HQ as we assessed what was
going on and how many people would go to the site to assist in what we believed
would be rescue operations. I was assigned as family liaison, helping to
coordinate children who were separated from their parents who worked in NY and
in some cases in the towers. In fact my job throughout was dealing with the
families of the residents of our town that perished that day. I worked with the
Medical Examiner’s office for nearly a year until we had confirmation through
DNA that all our residents remains were recovered.

I did not go to ground zero that day, but did go in the
days that followed. I worked the site and the destruction witnessed firsthand
is indescribable. Pictures and television can NEVER do it justice. The
desperation in people’s eyes and their pleas to find their loved ones is
haunting to this day. The toll it took on the fire fighters, police officers
and emts that searched the debris daily is an overwhelming thought. I keep the construction hard hat I wore as a reminder.  The silence
amongst heavy machinery was unreal. The feeling of hope drained daily to a
feeling of sadness as the realization set in that this was no more a rescue
mission but everything from this point forward was a recovery mission. The
entire area had become a graveyard with large pieces of twisted steel the
tombstones that marked the final resting place for 2,606 heroes.

Despite the despair, a feeling of unity was prevalent-
patriotism flowed through the mounds of debris and it was as if 2,977 (total number of victims from all 9-11
sites) unknowing patriots cried out God Bless America.

Six months after 9-11 I had to tell the wife of one of
the people that perished in the North Tower that her husband’s remains had been
identified. The news was delivered to me late on a Friday night. It was not
information I felt could wait until Monday so I went to her house at 11pm and
gave her the news. She yelled at me for delivering the news to her at 11 pm on
a Friday night when there was nothing she could do about it until Monday. She
was right and I felt horrible, I was so sick of dealing with 9-11 everyday,
phone calls, letters, stacks of cases on my desk, but in that moment of her
yelling at me I received clarity. What I went through daily since 9-11 was
NOTHING compared to what these families were enduring the day of, 6 months
later and today. I have great respect for those families and while I don’t see
them very often any longer I keep a little letter written by a then 9 year old
boy thanking us for looking for his father who perished that day. I often visit
the memorial our town erected to honor the residents of our town that perished
and reflect on the lives of people I never knew while alive but learned so much
about in death.

We will reflect on the 10 year anniversary and remember
that fateful day, I wish we could recapture some of the patriotism that was so
strong in the months that followed…football games will be played that day,
children will laugh and our lives will go on after we reflect for a brief moment.
For 2,977 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA their
lives were over in a brief moment. As we remind ourselves what happened that
horrible day a soldier will be in harm’s way and perhaps be killed.

We remember the 2,977 heroes that perished on 9-11-01 and
the 5,796 men and woman in uniform that have perished since. They left behind
wives, husbands, children, mothers, fathers families, friends and dreams of a
better tomorrow, what a shame if we allow those dreams to perish.

Categories : Family Life

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