September 11th: The Day The World Changed (In Your Words)

September 11th: The Day the World Changed (and Your Responses)

Guest Post By: Jason M. Silverman and Powerful responses

Note: Very Long Post!

As you know, 7 years ago everything we thought we knew about our own personal safety was blown to smithereens as we witnessed 2 hijacked planes being driven into the World Trade Center. In memory of all who perished and all who stepped up in our time of need, I thought I’d share just a few words. If you are so moved to, please reply back to this note with anything that comes to mind (or heart).

It was just before 9am on September 11, 2001 and I was at my own powerful words member school. I’d just finished teaching a private lesson and was getting ready to start preparing some marketing campaigns to take further advantage of the back to school rush that we had been experiencing. Then I heard it on the radio – A plane just flew into the World Trade Center in New York City! I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked!

Before I opened my school, I had been a bond trader for Fidelity Investments. My office had been located in the Boston World Trade Center. Many of the people I did business with on a daily basis, however, worked in NYC at the building that had just been hit. My mind went to all the people I knew and I hoped that they were OK. It seemed like such a freak accident – but oh so sad. Then I heard the radio AGAIN – ANOTHER PLANE HAS HIT THE OTHER TOWER! THIS IS NOT AN ACCIDENT!

I felt my heart in my throat and for the first time in a long time I actually feared for my own personal safety and that of my family. I hated that feeling. After calling all of my family members (even those that for one reason or another, I’d not been that close to), I felt a little bit better and felt more comfortable when I got home to my wife, Dr. Robyn Silverman.

For the next couple of days, we were both glued to the Television and watched that horrific image of the towers coming down, over and over and over again until it became permanently burned into our memories. Then we watched in amazement as the first responders did everything they could to rescue those still alive and locate those that hadn’t been as lucky. I was proud to see the camaraderie that was displayed over the following days, weeks, and months after the attack.

Today, Dr. Robyn and I were watching the memorial services and listening to the children of those lost in the attack. All those same emotions came rushing back – it was quite powerful to tell you the truth. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family’s that were robbed of time, love and memories that awful day.

What I realized, and wanted to share with you, is that we know that all of what we have can disappear in just a flash just like 7 years ago. Being grateful is a mere understatement for how we feel about our lives and the path we’ve chosen to travel. We’re honored and blessed that we have the opportunity to help you change lives on a daily basis. It means the world to us that you’ve welcomed us into your schools and into your lives. Thank you for making our journey so amazing.

As I said earlier, I’d love to hear where you were (physically, mentally, and emotionally) 7 years ago if you’d be so kind to share.

Hope you have a Powerful Day!

Jason M. Silverman

Powerful Words Character Development

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Dear Jason and Dr. Robyn,

7 years ago I was just starting my first September rush of enrollment since buying my gymnastics school the previous January. Fall classes had just started on Monday the 10th…I was just finishing dressing to go down to my gym for the AM preschool classes and my husband was in the shower when I saw the report and video on CNN of a plane hitting one of the twin towers. This had some meaning for our family since half of my husband’s family lives in and around NYC and the last problem there had affected his cousin personally.

I literally pulled my husband out of the shower and while we sat there watching CNN we got to witness the second plane hitting the second tower. I will never forget the look on Seth’s face and the pit of fear in my stomach as the realization that we were under attack hit us. In total shock we both went into automatic pilot and without ever losing sight of the TV we both finished dressing. Seth continued to his job and I went in to my gym. It never dawned on us, in our shock and our fear, to do anything else.

Preschool gym classes started with only a handful of children there. Many of the parents present were military parents because my gym is in such close proximity to both McGuire AFB and Ft.Dix Army Base. My instructors looked shell shocked and during breaks kept asking for updates. We kept all information away from the children and kept it “business as usual” with fun activities in class (talk about putting a game face on!). I stood in the lobby with the parents watching our tiny TV. As a group of 10-12 strangers stood there witnessing the towers crashing, the Pentagon getting hit (which REALLY hit home for the military families), and then the news that another airliner was missing, then had been reported as crashed we became bonded as strangers do in times of serious duress. I do not allow customers to see me in serious emotional states but that day

owner, parents, coaches, men, women, and soldiers became simply humans with tears dripping down our faces, hugging each other for comfort in our fear and horror. Then we did what we as resilient parents and humans do the best — we stopped reacting and began proactive.

In a now controlled state of fear, I closed the gym for the remainder of the day — which was fortunate since they put NJ in a state of emergency and all highways were to be cleared by that afternoon. In my first really official act as a leader in a serious situation, I sent all my staff and parents home to be with their families. I called my neighbor and best friend and we cried together on the phone. No one in her family had heard from her brother, a Port Authority Cop who was on the scene after the first plane hit. His cell phone was not working so no one knew if he was still alive (fortunately we were to find out a day later that he had vacated the first tower and was running people down the street when the tower fell — his police cruiser was crushed but he was spared.) Together my friend and I called our children’s schools and we made a plan of how to pick up the six children who at that time were attending 3 different schools with 3 different pick up times. No bus rides home that day — we wanted our children with us!

By 3:00 PM all of my children were home with me, my husband was home from his job. My older two sons (age 13 and 15) sat with us watching CNN reports throughout the night. My youngest son (age 8) simply was not able to handle that. To this day, I will forever salute the Nickelodeon station — while all other stations had coverage of the horrors of the day, Nick kept the cartoons running! My 8 year old NEEDED that as did

many other children in this country who simply did not need the emotional overload of that day. He would come up to say a word or two to us, then retreat back to his TV. No one ate dinner that night and even my teenaged boys wanted nothing. No one except the 8 year old even got any sleep.

Besides fear, grief, and a sense of loss my biggest impression of that night was the SILENCE. It was eerie and I have never heard that kind of silence in my area before or after that night. No one was out, and the only noise you heard was crickets and the occasional sound of sirens going up the turnpike as emergency crews from all over went to help. I remember thinking how weird it was that the crickets would just keep going as normal but why would I expect them to do anything else? No planes, no cars, no one outside, nothing but silence and sirens for the entire night. This was the silence of a nation in shock and it was not the type of silence that “peace and quiet” usually brings. It was the silence of loss — the loss of our security, the loss of friends (with both my husband and I having our MBA’s we knew quite of few people in the twin towers who were lost), the loss of our childrens’ innocence, the loss of personal freedom, and the loss of optimism. I was always a “glass half full” person, until that day. It took many months for my optimism to return — and I still seem to struggle with overdoing the “what-if” scenarios.

Last night my husband watched several specials commerating the 9/11 tragedy. I simply could not sit and watch for more than a minute before all that loss began to overwhelm me again — I began to cry once again (much like I am tearing up simply writing this) and I came to the realization that I do not need to watch specials to remember. I will

NEVER forget. Now, with my 22 year old in the military, I now live with a different fear generated from that day — Iraq is still a reality for many families and it is a direct result of 9/11. While our nation remembers the losses of 9/11, the armed forces are continuing to suffer losses which keeps 9/11 alive for many families every day. I used to go through periods of months where I would not think about 9/11 but ever since my son enlisted I think about it every time he puts on his uniform to go on duty.

I have dedicated my life to working with children, in helping them develop into great people (and sometimes great athletes), and more than anything else, 9/11 instilled in me a greater sense of my purpose. A parent mentioned to me that she was glad that her daughter had gymnatstics last night because the TV specials are very upsetting and this gave her daughter a place to be instead of home watching TV (and I will point out that this is a teenaged child). I am not simply a person who likes to wear sweat pants and run around playing with children for fun — I provide a safe, structured environment for children where they can learn life lessons without trauma. I provide them with something positive to look forward to even when the outside world is crazy. I help shelter them from the bad, put them on an equal footing with their peers no matter their grades in school, athletic skill, or family situation. We (because I do have a great staff that works with me) lead and mold them in to becoming great people. I was very positive about my business before 9/11 but afterwards I realized exactly WHAT I actually provided and what my role was in this world. Remembering 9/11 is always painful but it also reaffirms my purpose.

Terry Veit-Harmening

EnVision Gymnastics, LLC

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Seven years ago, I was here at work and was told by a co-worker what had happened. Believe it or not I hadn’t heard yet as I got to work at 7:00 am. We then turned on news through a computer inside the office where it played all day long. We were in shock, our parent’s were in shock as they came in the door for their child’s class.

The whole day we had CD’s playing in the stereo so as not to upset the children and putting on happy faces all the while we were crying inside. There are no words adequate enough to convey the feelings of that day.

I wish Americans would still behave now as we did then. You felt proud to be an American because WE knew we were not going down without fighting. Our pride needs to show 24/7 365 days a year not just when tragedy strikes.

I am proud to be an American and proud to be the daughter of a United States Marine who was a veteran of the Vietnam War.

Casey Tanon

V.P. & Secretary

GymStars Gymnastics, Inc Stockton, CA

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Oh yes Jason, that memory still burns in me everyday! In addition to my school I have been a fugitive recovery agent since the early 1990’s. I was sitting on my sofa that morning getting ready to go arrest a fugitive when I seen the news begin to cover it live. I thought how the hell did a plane get off coarse to hit the WTC. Then I personally saw the second plane hit the WTC. I knew right at that second we were being ATTACKED!!!

I remained frozen on my sofa felling numb. I didn’t even care about the person I needed to go arrest. At the time he wasn’t a bad guy to me. Just someone who broke the law. Then the ATTACK just kept coming, hitting the Pentagon, then the plane in Penn. It was at that time I remembered that the President was in Sarasota just over the Skyway bridge from us. I thought these people ATTACKING us mean business and they will be going after the President as well. My mind began to run, thinking of what else could happen!! My wife and I ran to our kid’s schools, got our kids home and we all couldn’t even move from the TV until late at night when we couldn’t stay up any longer. However we I went

to bed I only could lay there listening to the TV all night long. What a memory!!! The next morning I finally started to come to the reality that these people really, really, really hate Americans and this is the Holy war that is at hand.

After the incident what I remember is what I believe America needs the most. A coming together and bonding as one body. It was phenomenal what America did to truly become one, it only is a little sad that we can’t keep that sense to stay so strong as it was shortly after the event. I only work on striving to uphold this true American sense of being, myself with each and every person that surrounds me in my life.

To close this flash back, every moment of the rest of my life I will feel so blessed to be an American and how blessed to still have my family with me!!! My only thing left to say is…

May GOD bless those people who lost someone that day and may HE bless America and keep his hand of protection on us all!!!

Jason thank you for allowing me to share this special moment.

Master Tim McCahan

St.Petersburg, Fl

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Jason and Dr. Robyn,

I spent 20 years and 20 days in the service of the NYPD.

On September 22,  2000 I retired. I spent about 8 years of my career in Manhattan.

Those buildings were majestic and every time I stood in front of them only one thing used to enter my mind. What if these building ever fell, I always thought that if they fell they would tip over never thinking that they would implode on themselves.  On September 11, 2001 my fears became reality.

When I turned on the TV I saw the first tower fall I. truly believed my brother was dead. My brother Michael worked in the building. I didn’t realize that many of the occupants had enough time to escape.  He was lucky ones to escape without injury.

But the scars of the day remain.  He witnessed people jumping from the floors to escape the fire.   One of my student’s brother wasn’t so lucky, he lost his life in the building. My childhood friend Battalion Chief Orio Palmer lost his life in the building trying to save people and so did a colleague Police Officer John D’Allara. We worked together in the 46 Precinct.   I will never forget the people that lost their lives that day and the rescue people that continue to lose their lives from the toxic fumes that our government told them were safe.  I really do not believe that the whole story is being told and I hope to live long enough to get the true story.

Thank Y ou
Shihan Gary Gione
Elite Defensive Tactics, NY

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Hey Jason,

I clearly remember the events of that morning as well. I had also just finished a private lesson and was stopping at a convenience store to grab some breakfast when the first reports came over the radio. I called my wife and asked her to check out CNN and see if she could figure out was going on. She turned on the TV just in time to witness live the second plane impact on the tower. I can still vividly remember how I felt, holding on to my 5-month old daughter, watching the first tower collapse, and wondering what kind of world I’d brought her into. Every protective instinct in me was on fire, to shield my family from that horror. I’d have to say that in light of and maybe because of the events that day, I have tried to appreciate each day for the miracles it reveals, and that I’ve not only grown closer to my family but to God as well.

May our country never have to suffer a wound like that again. May we also never forget.

God Bless America!

Rob K.

KMAI

Hockessin, DE

Landenberg, PA

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