Remembering 9/11/2001

Today marks the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on America. Like the December 7th, 1941, surprise attack by the Japanese on Peal Harbor, the tragedy of 9/11/01 will live on in infamy. The attack on the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC resulted in  2997 deaths the worst single terrorist attack in history. It was the first time terrorist took over passenger jets and deliberately flew them into buildings. It was also the first time this type of terrorist attack had ever been broadcast live on television.

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WTC Tower One after impact

I will never forget the morning of 9/11/01.  I was still in bed when my wife called me around 5:50 to tell me that she had just heard that a passenger plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I immediately switched on the TV and was shocked to see tower one of the World Trade Center aflame. I watched in awe as the newsman explained that a plane had crashed into the building. Less than fifteen minutes later a second plane plowed into the second tower.

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flight-175-just-before-impacting-the-south-tower-

I watched in total disbelief.  It was surreal. Both towers, though still still standing tall, were severally damaged and on fire, the black smoke pouring from them spread across the sky. As I sat there, the towers, symbols of America at her best, suddenly reminded me of two mortally wounded giants, once proud guardians of the city, now casualties of a major terrorist attack.

9-11-fireball-at-towers1-300x230 (1)It was horrific! Images that will live with me forever. All I kept thinking was that America was under attack. Then less than a half hour later reports began coming in of a third plane headed for Washington. The attack wasn’t over! Soon it was announced that the plane had crashed into the Pentagon. and that a fourth plane was also in route to Washington. Jets were scrambled and in route to intercept, but before reaching its target the plane went down in a field in Pennsylvania, deliberately crashed by the hijackers after a group of passengers attempted to take back the plane. Modern day heroes.

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9/11 Aftermath

Less than ten minutes before the heroics of the passengers on flight 93, the unbelievable happened. Tower one began its collapse. One moment it was there, the next it was gone, reduced to a pile of smoking rubble! I couldn’t believe my eyes! But by the fifth or sixth replay there was no denying the tower was gone. A few minutes later the second tower also collapsed.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you I was in a severe state of shock like every other American who viewed their collapse. How could this be happening? How could terrorist have pulled off such a massive assault on the U.S.?  I felt sick and shivery, like someone had knocked the wind out of me. And yes I cried. You see, just the year before we had been to New York City and been up to the observatory on 1o2nd floor of the south tower. Having been to the WTC somehow made the 9/11 attack even more personal. I kept thinking “Oh my God! I was there, I was there!”

We’d gone to Clifton Park near Albany to visit my cousins and took the train into the city for a one day whirlwind tour. We went to Time Square, Park Avenue and Central Park to see Strawberry Fields. From there we walked to the Dakota Apartments so I could see where John Lennon had lived and been slain. We then made our way to the World Trade Center. I remember standing outside the towers gazing up at these magnificent giants!

My view looking up at Tower One WTC

My view looking up at Tower One WTC

Earlier we had talked about going out to the Statue of Liberty but Tom, my cousins husband, wanted to go up to the observatory. They’d lived in New York nearly ten years and never been. We stood there talking about what to do. If we did the observatory we probably wouldn’t make it to the Statue of Liberty. I was okay with that, but for some reason my cousin seemed a bit reluctant. I will never forget Tom saying to my cousin, “Come on Doreen, we’re here now, I say we go on up, it could be a once in a lifetime thing!” No truer words were ever spoken. It was so prophetic.

View from WTC

View from WTC

After a brief discussion we all went up to the observatory 102 floors up. It was quite a ride! I’m glad we decided on the WTC. It was truly an awesome experience! We never did make it out to Lady Liberty or the Empire State Building, but we got to see them from the top of the World Trade Center and they looked incredible from the observatory!

"Sometimes Freedom Hurts"

“Sometimes Freedom Hurts”

I’ll never forget my visit to the World Trade Center, just as I’ll never forget the events of 9/11. Please take a moment today to honor the memory of those who lost their lives that fateful day in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, those unsuspecting souls who went to work that morning expecting nothing more than the usual, those who worked at the WTC, the airline passengers and crew, the heroic firemen, police officers and rescue workers who gave their lives to save others. Remember these innocent victims of our fight for freedom. Thy died for the greater good. Say a prayer for them and the families left behind.      Honor their memory…

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Remembering My Brother Ted

Eight years ago yesterday my younger brother Ted passed away. I can’t say we were surprise by his death, my brother had been slowly killing himself with drugs and alcohol for years. We all knew that day was coming, it was just a matter of time and his time finally came. The years of abuse had taken their toll and his body just couldn’t take it anymore. At the time of his death he was not drunk or high on drugs, blood tests revealed that there were no illegal drugs in his system and his alcohol level was well below the legal limit. No, his heart simply stopped.  It’s sad that it took death to bring him the peace he longed for in life, but the demons he was battling were winning and that my friends made life a living hell for him and those around him. Please remember him in your prayers

Rest in peace baby brother. Until we meet again…

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John Lennon Remembered 38 Years Gone

I still remember where I was when I heard 
Cranked up the volume got caught up in the words
Cosell was saying
While the teams went on playin’
Tears fell from my eyes …   JS   3/81
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Senseless killing in the street
Yoko screamin’, her husband at her feet.
Killer was a fan who lost his head (yeah, yeah, yeah)
gunned down his hero – stood in the rain and read.
Johnny was a victim…    JS  12/82      
                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                              
downloadToday marks the 38th anniversary of the tragic death of Beatle John Lennon who was slain by a deranged fan outside his home at the Dakota Apartments in New York City in 1980. It’s hard to believe  he’s been gone so long. Lennon, renowned musician, artist and peace activist, was returning home from a recording studio where he and Yoko had been putting finishing touches on their new album “Double fantasy” his first new release in nearly five years. His death was a tragic loss for us all.
 
His death like that of John Kennedy is one of those moments  in time where you remember exactly where and what you were doing when you heard the news. I was at home that fateful Monday night, 12/8/1980, watching the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football, when Howard Cosell suddenly interrupted the play by play regular broadcast and somberly informed viewers of Lennon’s death. Ironically on another Monday night six years before, Lennon surprised Cosell  by joining him in the broadcast booth where they engaged in an impromptu interview. It was a very fun-filled exchange. This time however what Cosell had to say was tragically shocking.
 
lennonnyclg-210x300I couldn’t believe my ears. I remember thinking that they had to be wrong, John couldn’t be dead, and frantically began changing channels looking for more news on Lennon. I soon found a special report with live coverage from New York.  A large crowd had already gathered outside the Dakota and was growing by the minute. Stunned fans stood in the chilly night air, some were singing Lennon songs others simply huddled together, stunned in disbelief, tears flowed freely. At home I too was stunned and crying as well.   
 
The next day the airwaves were deluged with coverage of Lennon’s death. I still couldn’t believe it. Lennon  was and still is my favorite Beatle. I loved his irreverent attitude when being interviewed, always the wise guy, the grand cut-up. His music with the Beatles and in his solo career has had a profound influence on my life. As a young man many of my views and beliefs about love and life were a result of his music. His final album, ‘Double Fantasy” was Lennon reborn, It was a work of art, filled with songs about hope, truth, love and respect. I can’t help but wonder what direction his music would have taken had he been given the opportunity. Always a visionary Lennon appeared to be on a new life path. Sadly that life, cut short  by a crazed gunman, depriving the world of a much needed ray of light in a dark and dreary world.
 
The response to Lennon’s death was incredible, a shot heard round the world.  I remember hearing the reactions of George and Ringo and was touched by their response. Later in the day I was thoroughly disgusted when I saw a very brief interview with Paul McCartney, in London. Reporters had caught up with him outside Abbey Road Studios and asked for his reaction  on the death of his friend and Beatles writing collaborator. Mc Cartney, looking a bit bored or perhaps stoned, made an off-handed remarked to the reporter while chomping his gum, and disappeared quickly into the studio. I can still hear his crude statement as if he said it only a moment ago.  “Yeah, it’s a drag isn’t it.”   A drag? That’s it? John Lennon gunned down on the streets of New York and it’s a drag? Yep good old Sir Paul, what an ass! He was always my least favorite Beatle, a little too cutesy for my liking. Yeah his reaction really sealed the deal.
Years later my attitude towards him changed when I learned that he had been in the studio for hours after the shooting, distressed and in tears. The offhanded comment to reporters, the one I saw, was not a true indication of the pain he was experiencing at the loss of his long time friend. Although I still don’t believe the caliber of his music is on the same level as Lennon’s and is sometimes trite, I have come to respect Paul and even saw him in concert a few years ago. Something I had long said I would never do. Actually I believe I said I’d never pay to see McCartney. Then sometime later a good friend of mine gifted me tickets and I went to see Sir Paul. 
Of course I attended the Las Vegas show wearing a tee-shirt with a large likeness of Lennon on both front and back as a tribute to John and perhaps an affront to McCartney fans. But by the end of the night I was quite impressed with Sir Paul’s performance and his comments between songs, particularly his stirring tribute to John. And you know perhaps Paul was right all along because 36 years after John’s death it’s still ” a drag isn’t it?” A tragic drag for us all…
 
                                             “Favorite Lennon Story”
My son John was only two when Lennon was killed. By the time he was six he’d been inundated with Beatles and John Lennon music. He knew all about the Beatles.
 One afternoon in the summer of 84, my son and I were driving in my VW to my parent’s  home in Azusa when I spotted Tim Ryan, a friend of mine, walking along the highway. I quickly pulled over and offered him a ride. We drove him to a friend’s house in Azusa. The entire time John sat in the backseat listening to us talk and didn’t say a word which was quite unusual for John. Yeah he just sat there staring at Tim.
Lennon

Lennon

After we dropped him off and were driving away, John Michael, in awe, said to me,” I didn’t know John Lennon was your friend.”   I thought about it for a moment and realized that Tim, with his long hair, round, wire rim glasses and hawk nose did sorta, kinda, bear a resemblance to John Lennon. And my son actually thought he was really Lennon. I remember telling him “Yep, John Lennon and I are good friends.”  

My buddy Tim

My buddy Tim

And I hadn’t lied to him. Although I never met Lennon I knew him just the same. Through his lyrics and everything I ever read about him ( and believe me I read a lot) I knew him well. Lennon was indeed a good friend and saw me through some very troubled times. For several years John Michael would tell the story about the time we gave my good friend John Lennon a ride in my VW. It was priceless.       

Imagine…

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