No Surprises: navigating tragedy with faith, family and the FDNY

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Chapter 1 (rough draft)

A Free Day

Once a month, Bruce and I sat with our calendars to coordinate life. I always ended that sit down with “No Surprises, let me know if it isn’t going to work but no surprises.”  As a mom, wife, small business owner and church volunteer I prided myself on being organized, prepared, in control of my life.

It was supposed to be get-a-few-things-done type of day. With my two daughters back in school, my firefighter husband on duty, and one more week until fall classes resumed at my dance studio, I was free to do as I pleased. The day started as most days did. To be able to ease into my day instead of being thrown into it I got up an hour before my daughters, to shower, let the dog out, get my thoughts together and have my cup of tea.

At 6:30am Meghan staggered into the kitchen, arms at her sides, head down, still half asleep and stood in front of me for her morning hug and kiss on the forehead. At fourteen, Meghan was almost as tall as I was at 5’10”. Meghan, my second born and polar opposite of her older sister, wasn’t a morning person but watch out later in the day she was a force to be reckoned with.

Weeks earlier after freshmen orientation, Meghan had declared “By the time I have been at high school a month, everyone will know who I am. I kept asking if anyone knew Emily and no one did. They are going to know me.” I didn’t doubt that for a moment.

Emily, my 17-year-old reserved, attentive child was starting her senior year and negotiated her schedule to allow for early dismissal. Bruce and I informed her early dismissal required her to volunteer somewhere or get a part time job.

“Mom, don’t forget I have that Red Cross meeting this evening. Are we coming home before that?”

“Probably not. We’ll run errands or visit Nanny & Poppy”

Meghan chimed in “What’s happening to me?”

“Still sorting that out. Daddy will probably bring you home. Let’s go girls.”

The target time to leave the house each school day was 7:15am. My daughters attended Eastern Christian High School in North Haledon, New Jersey thirty miles away so driving them to school wasn’t around the corner or down the block or the other side of town. It was over the river and through the woods to another state we go. Even though school was miles from home it was near to my work making me available for drop offs, pick-ups and emergencies during the day.

As I turned into the circular driveway, I commented “Make sure you have all of your stuff. Em, I will see you at early dismissal time. Meg, I will see you at regular time. Have a good day. Love you.”

Next stop, my dance studio to quickly check the mail and answering machine messages and then home for my free morning. Can’t wait.Finding nothing that needed my attention, I got in my car to leave and the radio came on.

“…a small plane has flown into the World Trade Center.”

As I put the car into reverse, looked over my shoulder and backed up the radio news anchor continued.

“…a second plane has hit the World Trade Center”

 What? I pulled back into the parking space and sat a moment. I turned up the volume.   Maybe that Nelson Demille book I just read is really happening – pilots are being blinded. No, that’s not possible?!

Home seemed like where I needed to be.  I was operating on auto-pilot. As I merged onto Route 208, the FDNY issued a total recall.

“All firefighters report for duty.”

I knew the FDNY doesn’t call firefighters into work via the radio. This was bad, really bad. We must be at war but with whom? As I drove the radio continued to drone on, I started to pray. Lord, protect Bruce. Bring him home.I knew he would be sent down there. Bruce was a firefighter in a Special Operations Command (SOC) unit, a Squad. Squad 41 to be exact. Squad 41 ventured into Manhattan from the Bronx on a regular basis. I have joked that firefighters in Squads (and Rescues) do things they don’t tell their wives. It is bad enough that your firefighter husband runs into burning buildings. You don’t want to know he hung from a building, crawled around in a confided space, or suffered exposure to a biohazard all in the name of an average day in a Squad or Rescue.

When I arrived home, I turned on the television. The news professionals appeared as rattled and puzzled as I was. The images were baffling and then reports out of Washington, DC. What, now?  The images of a plane crashing into the Pentagon flashed on the screen. I started to pray again. Lord, please protect my country. Please protect New York City.

I paced, pleaded, prayed and the television kept reporting additional events. One of the twin towers collapsed, another plane crashed in Pennsylvania, the other tower collapsed.

I remembered in the Old Testament how Abraham prayed for a city to be saved. He asked God if there were one hundred righteous people to save the city and worked down to ten people and finally one person. I figured I had no time to waste so I prayed if there was one righteous person in New York City please save my city. I suggested to God that Dr. Mucci, District Superintendent for the Church of Nazarene, would probably qualify as the one person.

I was worried that my brother and/or brother-in-law might be traveling for business or be in New York City.  I tried to make several calls to my parents in New Jersey and sister in New York. No calls would go through.

“All circuits are busy, please try again later.”

Suddenly my telephone rang.

“Mom, where is Daddy?”  It was Emily.

“I don’t know.” I must hold it together until Bruce is home.  “I don’t expect to hear from Daddy. He doesn’t usually call when he is on duty. We will call the firehouse later if we haven’t heard from him by the time he is off duty. Okay? Find your sister and I will pick you both up at early release time. I love you. See you in a little while.”

People have asked me “why didn’t I get my girls from school when I first heard about the attacks? Why drive all the way home?” To be honest it never dawned on me to get them from school. I think I believed that if the girls were at school, Bruce was on duty and I was at my dance studio or home. It was all normal. And I desperately needed for it to be normal. For it to be all right.

The phone rang again.

“Hi, it’s Barbara. Is Bruce on duty?”

It was my sister who I hadn’t spoken to in a very long time. Since Barbara lived in California I guess we had never mentioned the house rule of not calling to ask me if Bruce was on duty when you hear of a fire on the television or radio. Who would have thought she would know about a fire in NYC?  I was grateful to hear her voice.  Bruce will be so surprised that Barbara called. I can’t wait to tell him.

My thoughts of getting something done or being free to do as I pleased were forgotten. I wasn’t sure what I should do. The television didn’t seem to have any new information. I couldn’t make phone calls. As much as I wanted to be home earlier, being home now felt isolating.  It wasn’t even early release time, so I couldn’t pick-up Emily and Meghan or so I thought.  I decided to drive back to my studio to see Carol. Carolis my best friend and business partner. She is my person. We can talk for hours or we sit with a cup of tea and not say a word. Through life’s mountains and valleys, she has walked with me. We double dated in our teens and twenties. We stood up for each other when we got married. When I started my business, New School of Dance Arts, Carol taught for me. After the first year I asked her if she wanted to be my business partner. At the time there was one hundred dollars in the studio checkbook, I told her if she matched the hundred dollars we would be equal partners in the business. Her hubby, Tony, calls us “partners in crime.” Tony and many others chuckled at our lack of business savvy “that’s not how you buy into a business” but Carol and I were business partners since 1976 so I guess we have done something right.

I retraced the same route I had driven earlier. But this time as I approached the top of Skyline Drive, I noticed there were cars parked on the shoulder. People standing outside their cars. What are they doing?  As the road reached the crest of the mountain, my question was answered. You can see the New York City skyline. Looking far to the right you see lower Manhattan. There was a big cloud of smoke where the building had been. Had I seen the towers earlier?

I entered the studio to find Carol sitting at the table with brochures, registration forms and schedules arranged in front of her.

“Your Dad called more than once. He wants you to call him.” were the first words out of her mouth.

I put my purse on the gymnastic mats and reached for the wall phone. A brief conversation with my Dad ended with a promise to stop by after I had picked up the girls.  Carol and I discussed all that we knew about the attacks. We switched gears to focus on studio stuff -what classes we needed to confirm, cancel, etc.

“I will call you when I hear from Bruce.” I walked out the door. Not realizing that I won’t walk back through that door until Monday October 1 when classes finally began.

Over the past three years I had regularly dropped Emily off or picked her up at school but rarely entered the building. Having been an ever-present parent during Emily’s preschool and elementary school days (I taught at the same preschool and elementary school she attended), I had made the conscience decision to step back and allow Emily to be her own person minus the role of Miss Ann’s daughter.

“Hi, I am Ann Van Hine. Emily has early release. I also want to sign out Meghan.”

“Of course, let me see what class Meghan is in. Emily should be heading this way to sign out.”

The ride to my parents’ house was full of questions with no answers but assurances of love and faith. We arrived at my parents’ home nine miles away to find my Dad sitting at the far side of the dining room table giving the impression he was holding court. My Mom was not thrilled with my Dad’s favorite spot, she wanted her table back for meals, but it had become his desk. My Dad tried to reassure my girls that Bruce couldn’t have gotten from the Bronx to Lower Manhattan before the towers collapsed. My Dad is an engineer and physicist so thinking things through logically was what he did but even as my Dad explained his reasoning I knew he was wrong. My Dad wasn’t tuning into the fact Bruce was in a Squad and would have been dispatched earlier rather than later.

Days later my Dad mentioned that he hadn’t tuned into the Squad dynamic and asked, “why didn’t you correct me?”

“I couldn’t correct you in front of the girls.”

Emily and I discussed the Red Cross meeting. She called to see if it was still on and the answer was no. We hung out a little longer and then decided to head home.  As I drove up Route 17 in my rearview mirror for a brief moment I saw the New York City skyline. I saw the smoke and I willed my girls not to turn around. When we got home, we turned the television on for a short time. We tried to do our daily routine. Time slowed or stopped or something, but it wasn’t moving as in a normal day.

By the late afternoon, I spoke with my sister-in-law, Bobbie, Bruce’s sister. She was at my mother-in-law’s home in South Jersey about three hours away. One of my greatest fears had been how would I tell Bruce’s mom something happened to him?  My father-in-law died ten years prior, my mother-in-law lived alone, and Bobbie lived in Kansas but on September 11, 2001 Bobbie just happened to be in New Jersey for a friend’s child’s wedding. So as all this was happening my 82-year-old mother-in-law was not alone. Thank you, Lord.

Around 7pm, I went into my bedroom to call Squad 41. The answering machine picked up. I left a message “Please have Bruce Van Hine call his wife.” I didn’t wait long before I called again. “Please have anyone call Bruce Van Hine’s wife.”

I called my folks. I told my Dad that no one was answering the phone at Squad 41. When my ever-calm Dad said, “call every number you have for the New York City Fire Department until you reach a human being” I was freaked. I grabbed the FDNY phone list off the back of the basement door and headed to my bedroom out of ear shot of my girls. I glanced down at the list, saw Bronx and dialed. It was Bronx Dispatch. The firefighter who answered explained that this was the number to report fires and kindly suggested that I keep calling Squad 41.

Eventually I got through to someone at Squad 41 who said “No one is here. They went to look for them. They will be in touch when they get back.” This can’t be happening.

Around 10:00pm I decided we should all get some sleep so Emily, Meghan and our 130 lb. Rottweiler, Buster, piled into my bed. I had a feeling that someone was coming to the house and didn’t want to be in my pajamas, so I stayed dressed. I laid with my girls until they were asleep. Then I got up.

I paced, prayed and made a cup of tea. Growing up a “cup of tea” was the quick fix for whatever was happening. A cup of tea could calm you down or cheer you up. My Mom is British so making tea was a ritual. I followed that ritual as I boiled water, heated the pot, steeped the tea and placed the tea cozy over the pot. I poured the milk in the cup first, added one sugar and poured the brewed tea. I sat on the couch cradling my warm cup of tea in my hands and waited for what I didn’t know but I waited.

At a little before midnight, I heard a car pull up, a car door close and then another. Even though the street light allowed me a glimpse of who was heading to my house through one of the three small windows in my front door, I decided I didn’t want to know. I held my breath and waited. Maybe they aren’t coming here.Please don’t be coming here. There was a light knock on the side door. Whoever it is knows we use the side kitchen door instead of the front door. Standing outside were two men – Charlie who was Bruce’s lieutenant and another firefighter, the identity of that firefighter changes in my memory.

I positioned myself between the kitchen and living room leaning with my shoulder against the doorway. Hopefully the house will hold me up if they say something bad. Polite greetings and then silence. I couldn’t stand the suspense “Just say it”.

Charlie whispered, “They are unaccounted for.”

Unaccounted for? wait? what?

In an almost out of body experience I heard myself say “I have no doubt God can get me through this, but I don’t want to go through this.”

I don’t want to. How many times through the years had my own kids and my students said those exact same words? How many times had I chimed in “most of life has nothing to do with what you want to do? I don’t want to pay taxes or do laundry, but I do.”

There wasn’t a sense of dread. There was a sense of this is really happening. Now what?Charlie, the other firefighter and I sat at the kitchen table as Charlie filled me in on what they knew which wasn’t much. Charlie offered assistance, a prayer, a hug and they left.

I locked the door and tiptoed down the hallway towards my bedroom. I hoped and prayed that the girls were asleep and hadn’t heard the exchange with Charlie. They seemed to be asleep, so I went back into the kitchen to make a few calls.

I called Debbie who is a pastor but first and foremost she is one of my best friends. I asked her to contact Pastor Steve and other friends in the morning. As we spoke I glanced out the window and noticed a man walking down the street. There was a moment I wondered if it was real and commented to Debbie “there is a guy walking down the street.” It reminded me of a scene from a movie – the late hour, the single streetlight glowing. It felt eerie. Years later in conversation Debbie mentioned the guy walking down the street and added “I think it was Bruce checking on things.”

I called my parents. Shared what I knew.

“We will drive up.”

“No, it is too late. Come tomorrow. I’m okay. Love you.”

I checked on my daughters again and realized Emily was awake.  I motioned to her to come into the living room. We sat on the living room floor. Within moments Meghan and the dog appeared in the doorway. They joined us on the floor.

“Charlie was here. Daddy is unaccounted for.”

We cried.

We hugged.

We prayed.

We got back in bed.

Once the girls were asleep I got up.  I made another pot of tea.

“Sorrow lasts for a night but joy cometh in the morning” kept running through my head. I needed to see the sunrise. I waited for the new day. I waited for the darkness to be replaced by light. I waited until the sun had risen and then I laid down to sleep. There was another day…

Read any good books lately?

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I love books. I think I have a book gene. Bookstores are one of my favorite places. Libraries also rank high on my list of great places to be. The first time both of my daughters were in school full time and I didn’t have to work I went to the library by myself. I know that is sad but it was exciting to me. My Dad had an extensive library with books on many different topics. Many of his books had post-it notes attached to the pages. His soft covered books had sentences or entire paragraphs underlined in pencil with notes written in the margins. Sorting through his books when he died was a huge undertaking but my sister and I did it. More than once in our frustration we commented we were never going to buy another book. Of course that didn’t happen. I mean how could it?

I read real books but I also read e-books. I enjoy highlighting paragraphs using the various colors or looking up the definition of a word with a tap of my finger. I haven’t mastered finding things after I underlined them but I think that is my lack of me being techno savvy.

The little bookmark icon in e-books is helpful and cute. I have used store receipts, clothing tags and even a tissue when I can’t find a bookmark for a print book. Folding the corner over isn’t something I do. My favorite bookmark is one that belonged to my Dad. I actually gave it to him. It is currently marking my place in my guilty pleasure book by James Patterson – The People vs Alex Cross.  There is nothing worst than when your bookmark falls out. Well, dropping your book in the bathtub or leaving it somewhere isn’t great either. Really not good if it is a library book.

Over the past few years, I have talked about writing a book. Since last fall I stopped talking and started writing. Below is a brief summary of my work in progress:

Once a month, my firefighter husband and I sat down with our calendars to coordinate life. We negotiated, adjusted and agreed on our schedules. Each month, I ended that conversation with “No Surprises, let me know if it isn’t going to work but no surprises.” Most mornings I reminded Bruce and our daughters of the plan. Then one day it all changed.

No Surprises is the story of my husband’s line of duty death and my journey as I navigate a national tragedy with faith, family and the FDNY. The book is set within the framework of The Pile, The Pit and The Plaza – the names of the World Trade Center since September 11, 2001. The WTC and I traveled together on remarkable journey which I believe offers a context for many of life’s experiences. First there is the incident. The incident that sets your life in a direction you never expected –  a diagnose, an accident, words spoken in haste, job lost, betrayal, death of a loved one, a terrorist attack. The event that shakes you to the core. In the aftermath there is a massive pile. A pile of things that need to be dealt with – options for treatments, decisions about the everyday, paperwork to be completed, plans to be canceled or rearranged, funerals to be planned, keepsakes to be shared, memories to be cherished. Where do you start? The immediate replaces the important or maybe the important replaces the immediate. Eventually maybe after days or months or even years the pile is gone, and you recognize there is a pit. A void left by what was taken, a hole left by finally sorting through the pile. Now what? How do you fill the hole to make it whole? How do you move forward now that the pile is gone? How do you move from the pit to the plaza?

Blog posts have been few and far between because of my work in progress but I hope to share sections of the work in progress and other thoughts right here so stay tuned.

So to answer my own question, read any good books lately?

Yes!

  • Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
  • Judas by Amos Oz

 

How about you?

12 in 2017

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I decided I would do my end of the year recount using twelve photos of mine from 2017.

One of my 2017 favorites on multiple levels. First it is a great photo of my daughter. Second I love the little girl  statue standing up for herself being fearless. 2017 was a year of women doing that – standing up. And to me the best thing about women standing up was they were standing up together. Women backing up and coming along side other women. We need each other. We are stronger together.

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Visiting the Ringling Circus Museum in Florida with friends was a highlight but bittersweet with the reality that the days of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus were over in May 2017.  Travel Tuesdays – The Ringling

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My second grandson was born on March 30, 2017.

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My first grandson turned two years old on April 29. He has decided my name is mommom.  I am fine with that. I babysat both of my little men on Mondays and Tuesdays for June – end of August 2017. It was fun and I slept well.

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Family vacation with my girls and their guys was a delightful week at the end of May. We rented a house in Annapolis, MD with day trips to Baltimore and the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Best part just being together. Added bonus being together for both of my daughters’ birthdays – 5/31 & 6/3. Fun moment was the Memorial Day parade. I love a parade. When was the last time you watched a small town parade? Add it to your to do list for 2018 you won’t regret it.

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The 9/11 Tribute Center grew into the 9/11 Tribute Museum in June 2017. Our new location at 92 Greenwich Street has the potential for educating large numbers of people but has not been without challenges as we settle into our new space just a tad further away from The Plaza. Still telling my story whether to school groups or on walking tours or in the galleries. Blessed to volunteer with the most amazing group of people.

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June 14, 2017 was my Mum’s 85th birthday. A few weeks later we gathered with old friends and family to celebrate her.

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I have seen Come From Away four times and I would see it again without hesitation. If you only see one Broadway show in 2018, make it Come from Away. If you plan to see more than one, add it to our list.  Come From Away

“We honor what we lost. But we also commemorate what we found!” Come from Away

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I have been to Seattle, WA many times. My daughter and her husband lived there for nine years. September 2017 was the first time I went to Seattle to visit Seattle. After my trip, I told Emily I understood why she loved Seattle. Had a great trip with good friends.

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On the way home from Seattle, I spent the weekend with family in Denver, CO.  I hope to spend more time with extended family in 2018. Aunts, Uncles, all manner of in laws, cousins, nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews are blessings.

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Family and those who are family through years of friendship came together to celebrate and remember my Mum.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” C.S.Lewis

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This is my number one photo for 2017. My daughter introducing her son to her grandmother, my Mum aka Nanny. Neither of my daughters could make it to my mother’s party in June. They decided they would both visit her on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend. My sister graciously opened her home again for a mini get together that day was my mother’s last good day she died less than a week later on September 8.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”   Dr. Seuss

 

Travel Tuesdays – The Ringling

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Recently while I was visiting friends in Florida we spent the day at The Ringling (ringling.org) in Sarasota. The Ringling includes Ca’ d’ Zan – the winter residence of John and Mable Ringling, the Circus Museum and the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art as well as beautiful grounds and a performing arts center. 

John and Mable Ringling had no children. Mable would predecease John and so when he died in 1936 he left the mansion and art collection to the people of Florida. It is worth a visit.
 Ca’d’Zan means House of John in a Venetian dialect. “The couple hired Dwight James Baum, an acclaimed New York architect, to create their mansion in the Venetian Gothic style. Begun in 1924 and completed in 1926, the house cost $1.5 million to construct, or approximately $20.9 million today.” You can only enter the house on a guided tour. The mansion is lovely. Mable’s attention to detail as mentioned numerous times by our docent is everywhere. Mable even had the back of the medicine cabinet doors painted with scenes of nature. The ceilings have beautiful sometimes whimsical murals and the chandeliers are exquisite. The chandelier in the main living space, The Court, hung in the original Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. John and Mable bought most of their furniture and fixtures from auction houses in New York. The mansion is decorated with the original furniture. Having taken quite a few tours, I can tell you a house still containing the original furniture is not the norm. Throughout the house there are stands with photos taken by Mable that give an additional insight into her daily life at Ca’d’Zan. 

After the tour, my friends said “it’s your choice – art museum or circus museum?” I responded “oh, that is tough. Should I go with my inner child or be a grown up?” My friends commented they were confident that they knew what I would pick and they were right – Circus Museum. As much as I enjoyed the beautiful gardens and learning about the mansion, the Circus Museum was my favorite. It brought back memories of attending the circus as a child. The smells, sounds and sights all came flooding back with wonder and awe. Things I hadn’t thought about in years. It was interesting because I had taken my children to the circus but the memories that bubbled up were from childhood. The fear that someone would get eaten by a lion or that the guy would fall off the tightrope. My delight when the little dogs jumped over each other or my amazement at how the performer could stay balanced on the galloping horse. The sight of elephants parading and the silliness of the clowns. The Circus Museum has a wonderful “train set” display that depicts the circus coming to town and explains the process. It was fascinating. There was a certain sadness that hung in the back of my mind has I explored the Circus Museum. The knowledge that the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus was no more.

Check out my photos below. And if you are in the area, plan a visit. It is a little pricey but worth it. Thank you to my friends who “treated me” to a great day.
    

In this nation

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This photo is of a sign that hangs in my daughter’s living room. I have read it numerous times and often thought won’t it be great if  it was true not just for her house, or even just my house but what if it was true for our nation. What if we could say:
In this nation

We work hard & help others

We tell the truth

We practice patience

We smile

We say I’m sorry

We keep promises

We laugh

We speak kindly

We show respect

We love one another

There are days we would miss the mark but couldn’t we at least try.

Remedial class

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I have often commented to friends that I am pretty sure I am in the remedial class when it comes to learning life lessons. Seriously if there is such a class I am in it. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is just the way it is. For example, last year in Children’s Bible Quizzing we studied the book of Exodus. The story of Moses with the burning bush is one of my favorites. Moses out in the wilderness doing his job of tending sheep and God shows up. Take your sandals off. Holy ground. “I AM WHO I AM” All great stuff.

What stuck with me last year was Moses asking “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God responding “I will be with you…” I loved that response. God didn’t say “Moses, you were the Hebrew baby in the basket, you were the young man in Pharaoh’s court, you are a murder, the shepherd.” He says “I will be with you.” This was an aha moment for me. Really that is what it is all about God is with us. Immanuel means God with us. I mentioned it to friends. In conversation with my pastor, he commented that Moses actually asked the wrong question. Moses should have asked “who was God?”  Yeah, right. That is worth pondering, too. The main thing still goes back to God saying “I will go with you.” I was passionate about this. I pondered it  I excitedly  shared this new understanding when I spoke at Le Tourneau and College of the Ozarks. Good stuff.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. I have been invited to share my September 11 at a hearing on terrorism. Did I mention the hearing is in Brussels, Belgium at the European Parliament? An amazing opportunity but I am pretty sure they have the wrong person. No, a real invitation to speak arrives via email. Then a telephone call. All confirmed by September 11 Families Association. This is legit.  I am humbled by the opportunity but remember I am the ballet teacher. This is a “running with the big kids” event. I am a sit on the floor with kids person.

Yesterday I emailed some friends to ask them to pray for me as I embark on this amazing adventure and as I sat in my study I thought “who am I that I should speak at the European Parliament.” And then it clicked! I asked the wrong question but answer was still the same – “I will go with you.”

 

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getting back in the groove

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groove

Sometimes with writing (blogging) as with other things in life you just seem to fall out of step. A new commitment to babysit my grandson two days a week, add to that a couple of speaking engagements and interviews, increased travel to visit my mom and blogging fell to the bottom of the pile. I missed blogging (and I have some other writing I need to work on) so here is my public announcement that I am picking up my pen (well not really because I type) and putting my random ramblings on paper (screen) on a more regular basis. 🙂 I am getting back in the groove.

First up is a few quick recommendations for visiting the September 11 Memorial. Recently people from all parts (former high school classmates, pastors, etc.)  of my life have been asking “can you explain the difference between the Memorial, Tribute Center, One World Observatory and Museum to me?”

So here goes:

  1.  9/11 Tribute Center, 120 Liberty Street is 5 small galleries and walking tours of the September 11 Memorial Plaza. The daily walking tours are the crown jewel of the Tribute Center. Survivors, downtown residents, family members, first responders and volunteers during the rescue/recovery give 75 minute walking tours that include the history of the original World Trade Center, timeline of the attacks, rebuilding, symbolism of the Memorial and most importantly their personal story 9/11 Tribute Center tours started in 2005 and the galleries opened in 2006. This is who I volunteer with.  tributewtc.org
  2.  The National September 11 Memorial is open daily from 7:30am – 9:00pm. It is an open plaza. You don’t need tickets to visit. Take the time to walk around at least one of the pools so you can experience the size of the buildings. Pools are within the original foot[print of the building. The row of trees behind you when you are at the pool marks the walls of the original buildings – you are standing in the original buildings. The Memorial opened on September 11, 2011.  911memorial.org
  3. The National September 11 Memorial Museum is open Sunday – Thursdays from 9:00am – 8:00pm and Fridays – Saturdays from 9:00am – 9:00pm but last entry is 6:00pm/7:00pm respectively. You need to purchase tickets online. Allow at least 2 hours to visit and be kind to yourself. The museum has a lot of amazing artifacts. It is arranged with a in memoriam section and a historical section. Don’t miss the video from NASA. The Museum opened in May of 2014.  911memorial.org
  4. One World Observatory is open daily from 9:00am – 8:00pm with last entry at 7:15pm. One World Observatory is the observation deck of the new 1WTC. You will need to purchase tickets. It opened in May of 2015. oneworldobservatory.com

 

My thoughts:

You will get more out of visiting The National September 11Memorial if you do a 9/11 Tribute Center walking tour.

If you are not from “around these parts”, do a 9/11 Tribute Center walking tour of The National September 11 Memorial and go to One World Observatory.

If you have children do a walking tour and then decide if The National September 11 Museum is appropriate for your family. Remember to your children September 11 is history, to you it is current event.

All four places are worth your time and money but you need to pace yourself so do a walking tour (& galleries) your first visit, the museum another visit and the observatory another time.

The Museum is artifacts and information.

The walking tours are stories and inspiration.

The Observatory is cool views.

 

 

https://missannsays.com/2014/05/18/national-september-11-memorial-museum/

https://missannsays.com/2014/05/13/travel-tuesdays-s2e2-911-memorial-museum/