I remember the phone ringing just after 7 a.m. It was a friend telling me to turn on the TV. My wife, our 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter couldn’t believe I was watching television at that hour. Once it became clear what was happening, all semblance of a routine school day vanished.
As I watched history unfold before my eyes, I began thinking about our 21-year-old son. He was an art major at New York University. Because all phone lines were jammed, there was no way to find out where or how he was. That’s when my father’s intuition kicked in. “He’s alright,” I kept telling myself and family. Thankfully, that turned out to be true. By the time we connected with him late that night, he and his neighbors had been evacuated from their apartments.
Three days after 9/11, I turned 53. I was scheduled to fly to Seattle that day, but couldn’t because all the airports were closed. Instead, my wife and I attended a candlelight vigil on Main Beach. It was one of the best birthdays I can remember. Not because we celebrated, but for the sense of community … of belonging to something far bigger than myself.
I remember thinking, “This is where I live and these are my friends. I feel battered but proud to be an American.”
Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach