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  • Writer's pictureBradley DeRuiter

Where Were You on 9/11?

I was in France, walking on the way to dinner, stoping in for some quick impulse shopping, to buy our son a pair of Heelys. The dollar was strong & the conversion rate made the purchase only $20 USDA. The shoe store guy says to us, "You American? You (shakes his head yes and points to his ears) what says radio? What says radio! Pentagon KahBoom!" Lot’s of charade type gestures to assists communication between French and English. We could hear the store radio, but didn't understand a bit of French. Devastation weighted the air in the entire store as the French patrons stared at us in anticipation of our reaction while processing the implication.

The european news papers were not as censored as the American news papers we saw when we got home from our trip, so we were seeing detailed photos of bodies jumping out of the World Trade Center buildings. As horribly candid as the US media documented 911, European papers were extremely more graphic. Try traveling with a then seven year old who is not seeing the Eiffel Tower in a history book, but standing on it, and help calm him down to go to sleep after the chaos the news imagery imposed. 

Unbeknownst to me then, when I took this photo the day before, this would be my tribute photo to all of the heroic firefighters. We where touring a 12th Century Napoleon Military Base on the Seine River. Granted France is 6 hours ahead of New York, NY. Eery the ironic timing. 

The nicest most friendly people in France were the Italians and the Swiss. We met a Swiss family who were each fluent in at least four different languages. They invited us onto their boat for coffee and let us use their cell phone to call home and verify that we were ok and was everyone else in our family?

911 was smack dab in the middle of our three week itinerary. We were flying Swiss Air, which closed and went out of business the week after we returned home. 

"Nothing helps clarify and distinguish the Necessary from the Unnecessary more than an Epic Tragic Disaster." @kimiyaisms 

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