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I'll Never Forget Where I Was On 9/11

Larry Marano. Shutterstock Images.

On 9/11/2001, I was a self-employed plumber doing mostly service work and remodels. I had given a quote to a customer who divorced her first husband and then married her high school sweetheart. Apparently, the two of them parted ways when he enlisted in the Navy and was stationed in the Philippines. They both went on with their lives, got married, had kids, and then divorced their spouses. When he retired from the Navy after 20 years and moved back to Massachusetts, he looked her up and they reconnected. Shortly after they got married they bought a small ranch house in Sharon not far from the Foxboro line.

She called me to give her a quote on a basement bathroom. Her two teenage kids were going to live in the basement and her husband's three younger children were taking the two bedrooms upstairs. I gave them several options on how to build the bathroom and knowing that money was tight in their suddenly very large family, I suggested we avoid cutting concrete and instead install a Saniflo Macerator system, which is all above ground.

On the morning of 9/11, I was standing at a packed parts counter at Republic Plumbing Supply in Norwood, waiting for the materials to start the job. All of a sudden a plumber came running through the double glass doors and into the parts area yelling that a plane just crashed into the North Tower at the World Trade Center. We couldn't believe it. We all thought it was pilot error, and wondered how incompetent a pilot had to be to get so far off course that he ended up flying over New York City and crashing into one of the twin towers…

About 15 minutes later, another plumber came running through the doors saying a second plane had crashed into the South Tower. It was at that moment that we all realized it was not pilot error, the United States was under attack!

I loaded my parts into my van quickly and headed to the job, which was about 20 minutes away, listening to the radio intensely. By the time I got there, I knew I couldn't work and I knocked on the door to speak with the husband, who was the only one home.

He was just as overwhelmed as I was. He invited me in and we walked directly into the family room, which was just off the kitchen, where we remained glued to the TV. We spent the entire morning watching and talking about our loyalty to our country. He shared stories about the experiences he had in the Navy.

Sometime after noon, I got a call from my wife that the kids were being dismissed from school and so I headed home to be with my family.

In 1963, I was watching TV with my mother and father when John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. It was a very dismal time and as my family wept, so did our great nation. 9/11 ripped at the heart of our country in much the same way, but it was a lot worse. It made us realize that even though we lived in the greatest nation on earth, we were still vulnerable to terrorist attacks in our own country. Sadly, the secure feeling we once had as Americans, was gone forever…

In the following weeks, the coverage intensified, and I remember securing small American flags to the antennas of my work truck and my wife's minivan. I never took them off, eventually they weathered away…

My son who just had a kidney transplant in June of 2020, was seeing the Chief of Pediatric Urology at Children's Hospital in 2001. He had successfully performed a very complicated surgery on my son when he was an infant. When I read the list of those who lost their lives in 9/11, I saw that one of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 11 that crashed into the North Tower, had the same last name as our doctor. On our next visit to Children's Hospital, he needed the assistance of his nurse throughout the entire visit. He looked and sounded very different. When I asked if the nurse if the doctor was okay, she told me his 42-year-old son had been one of the 81 passengers killed on United Airlines Flight 11…

9/11 put a death grip on our great nation and for many, it hit home…

Never Forget.