When I think about 9/11 and the time period that surrounded that day, one of the most powerful and painfully chilling memories for me was a radio interview by Terry Gross on NPR. She was interviewing a mother whose daughter had been at a daycare center that was very near the World Trade Center. The daycare evacuated the children just after United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower following the collapse of the North Tower. The mother recounted how, on that evening, at home, the little girl began talking about all the birds she had seen in the sky during the evacuation. There were no birds in the sky in New York that day, the mother thought. Then, the horror set in, and she knew. Her daughter had seen people in the sky who were falling from the World Trade Center. It is estimated that 200 people either were forced out of the buildings from the heat and smoke, or they made that awful choice of not if they would die, but how. The mother’s only hope was that in her daughter’s mind, she really did see birds that day.
This mobile is made up of 200 porcelain birds. Each tower is made up of 100 little white birds. I could not look at any of the videos or photos of this tragedy following 9/11, but when I researched this topic I had to look, and face it. It was so much worse than I realized. I read many of the eye witness accounts from people looking out their windows in the South Tower, some from the ground. The two towers were only 120 feet apart. People in the South Tower could see the faces of people, their hair color, what they were wearing as they were falling from the buildings. It was a 10 second flight with an impact speed of 150 miles per hour. These people had all began a normal work day, each one of them. I am sure some may not have finished their first cup of coffee.
I have to remember these people because all the birds in the sky show me, teach me, how quickly life can change…how quickly it can be taken from you.
This piece called "Birds"