Two Windows on Ground Zero (reprint)
Janelle Meraz Hooper
September 11th found me stuck at home alone with only a 38-inch screen TV, and a large living room window.
I could have done without the big screen TV. This was one time a one-inch screen would have been too big—too painful to watch. Over and over and over I watched the planes hit the WTC towers in New York City.
A feeling of being trapped overcame me as I looked out the living room window. No sign of the tragedy was visible in the surrounding homes. Not a person was in sight. Maybe it was a nightmare—but no—there it was on CNN. On ABC. On CBS. On Fox. On CBUT, the Canadian channel. I turned to Univision, the Spanish-speaking channel, and saw a blazing banner: Bajo (Low) Attack!
I must have paced between the TV and the window thirty or forty times. Looking at the TV, looking out the window. Still no sign of life in my neighborhood. Where could everybody be? At the time, I couldn’t leave my home, but they were all fully mobile. I can’t explain the intense need I felt to see a human—especially an American human.
Suddenly, A little dark blue import, driven by an elderly gentleman, raced up my neighbor’s long driveway. Attached to the back window of the car was an American flag. A message was painted against the dark glass in white paint: GOD BLESS AMERICA!
While I was waiting for him to come by again, I heard cars honking down the hill. Soon, a car full of hollering teenagers flew by my house. The car was painted all over with patriotic messages, and a young man was fully reclined on the hood holding up an American flag. He was wearing a shirt with an all-over pattern in red, white, and blue stars and stripes. Suddenly, I felt connected.
Dragging my bandaged body along with me, I hastened downstairs to get our flag. When I got to our front porch, I was disappointed to discover that my husband had removed the flag holder from the front of the house. Or had it just rusted off? Anxious to communicate with passersby, I stuck the flag in a huge flowerpot by my front door and went back to my television and my window. The window was a lot easier to watch.