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Sept. 11: The day the bad guys came

By Kay S. Pedrotti People of my generation are apt to ask each other, “Where were you when …” about events such as the Kennedy and King assassinations — and Sept. 11, 2001. There are several vignettes about my experiences on 9/11 I think I can now, after 10 years, share in writing. On that day I was in a DeKalb hospital with a friend for whom I was caretaker for the last seven years of her life. Marietta was having hip replacement surgery and we had spent the night in the hospital because of the distance she lived from the facility. She was already in surgery and I was trying to nap in her room. I was fuzzy after a night of no sleep in a recliner but a voice came through the fog. A nurse outside the door was on a cell phone saying, “All the planes are down. We’re at war.” I jumped up and asked her what was going on. She said, through tears, “Turn on the TV.” I did, and just as the picture came clear, the second World Trade Center tower fell. I could hear the fear and shock in the voices of the newspeople. I kept thinking, ‘No, not in this country. This is not happening.” Then I realized I had to go to my daughter-in-law Amy. Amy O’Malley Pedrotti, wife of my son Vic, was born in Brooklyn and raised in Westfield, N.J. She had parents, sisters, brothers-in-law, a niece and two nephews in the area; at least one brother-in-law always rode the PATH to work in New York every day. She had to be suffering and I wanted to be able to offer what comfort I could. As soon as Marietta was awake after the surgery, I told her what had happened, I was headed south to be with Amy, but I would be back. I arrived at their house in Rex to find her distraught, alternately praying and cursing as only an Irish girl from Jersey can swear. ”Let’s give the Israelis 24 hours to get out,” she said, “and then bomb the **#!! out of the whole Middle East!” She had trouble putting baby Aidan down and she did not hear that her family was okay for several hours. My husband the air traffic controller was not at work but called in to ask if he should come to Atlanta Center. When he did arrive about 1 p.m., printouts of the morning’s conversations from Washington, Boston and New York Air Traffic Control Centers were being pulled. The impact came home to Bob; and he was, for him, unusually emotional for quite a while. Meanwhile, none of us knew that at 4-year-old Bridget’s pre-K, all the TV sets were on. Kids and adults were all crying. Of all the children, Bridget may have been the only one who had seen New York and knew Mamo and Grandpa and all her aunts lived around there. She broke our hearts with what she said after school: ”Mommy, the bad guys broke New York.” Kay Pedrotti is a writer for the Herald Gazette and Pike County Journal-Reporter.

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