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In their own words: TribLocal contributors reflect on 9/11


Sept. 11, 2001, dawned bright and clear, but before the day was out indelible memories had been etched into our collective consciousness. For the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, TribLocal bloggers and contributors around the Chicago area offered up their perspectives, reflections and thoughts on the day.

The essays read like a narrative of the entire Chicago area, full of common hopes and fears that we all shared that day. Read on for excerpts and links to the columns, and don’t forget to post your own thoughts on your town site.

Rebecca Palumbo in Tinley Park writes:

Deb and I stood on the apron of my driveway after we had put our little ones on the schoolbus, laughing about something one of our kids had said, or maybe something one of our husbands has said, or it could have been some self-deprecating mothering moment of our own. We were standing in the sunshine, happy and safe.

Our neighbor Greg, retired, came across the cul-de-sac. He looked stricken and we stopped short. “A plane flew into the World Trade Center in New York,” he said. Deb and I looked at each other, confused. Why was Greg ruining our delightful morning buzz with news of an unfortunate plane crash? “It was on purpose,” he said. “Another one hit the second tower. Both towers are burning. People are dying.”

Lucy Lloyd in Downers Grove writes:

At Hillcrest Elementary in Downers Grove, there was an undercurrent of concern amongst the teachers and staff, but outwardly, everyone was going about their morning routine.

Hillcrest Principal Dr. Richard Russell, now retired, says the calm was deliberate. “I had to ask myself what to do? When dealing with small children, the first thing is to remain calm. How we approached it with the kids was to keep things as normal as possible. The teachers talked to the students, making sure the conversations were age appropriate. We advised them not to discuss it at length and to use their best judgment.”

Barb Valentin in Wheaton writes:

For the first time in a long time, my instinct was to be with my family. After that, all I really wanted to do was wrap myself in a flag and go pound the snot out of the bullies who invaded our great playground and played ever so badly with the other kids.

The next day, flaunting a pair of uncharacteristically big and unabashedly patriotic American flag earrings, I hammered out an email to the CEO, demanding to know why the real ones flying in front of our building were not at half-mast. Later that morning, the poor guy had the misfortune of blocking my access to the coffee machine in the cafeteria. But the day was far from over.

Amy Bordoni in St. Charles writes:

In the midst of every tragedy, it seems, stories of caring and selfless giving rise to the surface. And 9/11 was no exception. Strangers searching for strangers, firefighters sacrificing their lives to save others, funds established for victims’ families, people who had never met comforting each other in their grief.

Even thousands of miles away, in the aftermath of that evil, people were nicer to each other. It was as if we were jolted out of our small little worlds so we could see each other more clearly, as we truly are—precious lives that so easily and unexpectedly could be snuffed out.

Alana McBride-Piech in Lombard writes:

One moment in time I will never forget is walking back from church the following Saturday evening after 9/11 with my family. We were just getting used to the silence of the sky, and a plane flew overhead. My husband Stan looked down at our 13-year-old daughter and then up at the sky, pointed at the airplane, and said, “Rosie…. that’s the sound of freedom.”

I would have never believed I would look forward to hearing those planes again, but I feel differently about them now. I have come to believe freedom comes in all different packages, and I will always think of them as the sound of freedom.

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