Thursday, September 10, 2015

Anniversary of 9/11

Today's post is about memories of those who are innocents that have passed and those who stand up for others to protect them in civil duties.

On 9/11 I was in my home in bed asleep. I had been working many hours and would go to bed early to rise early to be at work. My husband, who had decided to stay up a bit later, decided finally to go to bed. In fact, this was one of the years we were actually going to be at normal times for many people - by 11pm usually we were in bed or getting ready for bed. On this night, we decided to go to bed early - me by 10:30pm and my husband at about 10:45pm. Later we would find out he had just turned off the light in our bedroom as one of the planes hit the Trade Towers.
Taken from

Anyhow, at about 1:30am, our telephone line rings and as everyone knows, a phone call at that point of the hour - unless it was someone in my family that gets confused with the time zones AND had figured out how to get my phone number - its bad news. On that morning, a friend of ours who knew I grew up in New York, called me because she had fallen asleep with the TV on and woke up to turn it off and found out about the attacks in New York. She called me right away almost hysterical. I couldn't understand what she was saying but I had to try and calm her down. Then she just told me to turn on the TV and hung up the phone.

We got up and went into the living room and turned on the TV and did what most people did that day - sat there stunned. I'm not a morning person and it wasn't exactly hitting home what was happening. When it did, we sat there asking what everyone else was asking - why?

My Relatives
Then it occurred to me I had a nephew who worked down there and we had first responders in the family. I ran for my computer as I knew the telephone lines would be a mess and if anyone could get anything out to me it would be that way. I turned on my emails and had a FLOOD of emails about
One of my niece's husbands
what was going on. I learned most of my immediate family were fine but what about the others? My cousin? I then sent out an email asking about them...only to find that no one knew.

It took a few hours, and as my manager wasn't going to be in that day, I was it for the IT side of things, so I had to go in. I grabbed a few books I bought for our upcoming trip to NYC in about 6 weeks because I knew people were going to have questions. Once I got on the train going into the city, I was calling people asking about my sister, my nieces' husbands, and my cousin.

By the time I was almost at work, I found all were fine except my cousin. That wouldn't occur for a few more hours before I found that he had left the job at the World Trade Center - I believe it was building 5 - about a month before.

Waiting time
One of my other niece's husbands who was in the fire department
The big question was there - would they get sent down to help with the clean up or set up to help the people who were harmed? No one knew and they were all on standby in case they were to get sent down. I know my one sister, who is a nurse by trade, was on call. I asked her not to go down -
something I don't do because I know its her job to help injured people. My big fear? That whatever was in those buildings would harm her and take her away from her young son, Eric. She didn't believe me and told me she would think about it but I knew she wouldn't - if asked she would be right down there.

She knew people who were in the rubble. She knew the priest who was the first person killed. She knew one of the men who were carrying the priest as he was her friend's husband.

Traveling to NYC
As I said above, we had plans to go to NYC within weeks of 9/11. We had planned to walk around NYC and act like the tourists we are - something I don't really like doing as I feel like a jerk in my own state doing that. This was the one time I had agreed as I hadn't been down there but a few times myself. I bought books, wanted to see the balloons for the Macy's Parade, and go to a few museums. My husband, who was the bigger tourist because of not being in NYC before, had the longer list of things to see. One of them was the World Trade Center. I figured we could plan it just right to go in the morning and have a breakfast or brunch up there. I then bought the tickets and had them sent to my mother's house. They arrived a few weeks before 9/11.
Our tribute of 9/11 including the 2 World Trade Tickets we bought before the event happened

We did end up going to NYC, but I wasn't looking forward to it because of what had happened. Everyone was scared and tender about it. And not only those in the US either. At the time of the attacks I was working with a Muslim at work, and we were working on a programming problem for one of the computer systems. Then 9/11 happened. He was sooo uncomfortable the days after the event, I had to stop him and had decided to talk to him about it. I asked him what the problem was. He was scared about how I and others would treat him. I told him I know him and I would treat him like I always have. I couldn't say what others would do though. I asked him if, since he had been there that day, I had treated him any differently than any other day and he replied no, I treated him like any other day. I told him if anyone could be upset with him it would be me, but how could I be upset with someone I know didn't have anything to do with it? Unfortunately, he decided after that to be reassigned and I never saw him after that day. Now that's really sad that someone, who had nothing to do with the events actually ended up changing the way they worked or lived because of other idiots.

Anyhow, we did go to NYC, did the tourist thing, and took the pictures. However, once you got down past a certain level, all you could smell was - death. At first I didn't know what it was and as we got closer to what was the World Trade Towers, I figured out what it was. After all they were still burning at that point. Walking around the area was really sad. After awhile I was glad we had other tours booked and planned so we could leave that area.

First Responders
As I mentioned, I knew we had first responders in the family. My sister was a trained nurse and worked on an ambulance where she lived as a volunteer. My nieces both married men who volunteered or worked with the fire department near where they lived. Would they get sent down - who knew. Thankfully, none of them did. I know they all wanted to go down because they wanted to help as everyone did. However, for the family's sakes, I'm glad they didn't because of what was in those buildings.

Toxic debris
 I knew, deep down, there were things in those buildings who were going to make people sick. The pit of my stomach kept telling me there was something very toxic happening and people were going to be very sick. I had visions of the people from the Atomic Bombs in my mind.

The sad part is now we know we were right - it wasn't the Atomic Bomb toxic, but it was much worse because you couldn't see it or tell if it was going to affect you or not.

Genealogy and First Responders

As I'm slowly finding my family, I found there were many other first responders I never knew about. My cousin on my paternal side - actually he's my 1st cousin 1 time removed - Stanley Wojtkowski or
Stanley "Stash" Wojtkowski picture from
Slash. I've only just found him through records. He was a New Jersey State Trooper and I found he
had died in 2012 - 3 years before I could meet him. I can only wonder if he had done anything to do with the World Trade Centers and was is now known as 9/11.

Then on my maternal side, we have first responders too - in Pennsylvania. Again, I never knew anything about these men until just recently. The first one I found - my first cousin twice removed married someone, Sam Woncheck, who was a cop in one of the smaller towns. I had found my first cousin and her husband through many newspaper clippings and left it alone. Then a few months ago, I received an email from someone in the family and I am now corresponding with his son. Both of these men were cops and the son or my second cousin one time removed, was actually the Chief of Police in the same small town as his father. In fact, by the newspaper clipping from Charleroi Mail, it states Steve Ostrzycki and Sam Woncheck were there when a friend of the family died suddenly. What it doesn't say is Sam Woncheck's son was there as well.
1960 Caption about my relatives being on hand when a fellow Fire fighter dies. 

Where would we be without First Responders?
Have you ever stopped to think where we would all be without the first responders? Most people need to stop and think about these people at least once a year - 9/11 could be the best time - and be thankful to them as they do it for the love of the job and not for the money. Just take a few minutes to stop and think about all the times you've heard about them on the news or about an accident because like it or not first responders were there and they were the first ones on the scene to help, console, or even hold people in death. They were there for them all.

I'm lucky enough to not only have military men in the family but also first responders. In fact, I had a sister who became an EMT for a short time and I've been the first aider and safety person at work a number of times. It must be those genes where if we have something in the family, its sure to show even if you don't realize it until after the fact.

Taken from