So many of us  feel  an emotional  connection to  the terrible events of September 11, even if we were not personally involved.  I am no exception, as the following story demonstrates.

In  January, 2001 my husband Rob and I flew to New York (one of my favourite cities) to celebrate my 50th birthday. It was a magical time. There had been heavy snow  the previous week, but on almost every day of our stay  the city sparkled in winter sunshine.  


Warmly wrapped  in blankets,  we enjoyed  a romantic  horse and carriage ride through snowy Central Park. We also  watched business clad New Yorkers skating  at the Rockefeller  Centre, a sight that completely captured my imagination.

On the recommendation of  Rob’s cousin Barry, who had worked in the city,  we  booked my celebration lunch at the  River Café, located beside Brooklyn Bridge.

My celebration birthday restaurant, looking across to the Twin Towers.
RIVER CAFE (Photo credit- Trip Advisor)

I was  enjoying  the indulgent Brooklyn Bridge Chocolate Dessert Platter  when  the head waiter walked over with a telephone, ‘There’s a call for you from Australia  Mrs Conolly.’   It was  the lovely Barry! Afterwards we wandered around admiring the  area’s historic brownstone buildings, some still decorated with their  Christmas and New Year garlands. As evening  fell we walked back to our Manhattan Hotel across Brooklyn Bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge (Wikipedia)
Brooklyn Bridge (Wikipedia)

When we returned to Sydney  I wrote an article about the trip for the travel section of The Weekend Australian. It was published in June.  After describing some of the  difficulties encountered during construction of the  famous bridge  I wrote the following;

It is worth remembering that when this bridge was completed in 1883, the 280 foot spire of Trinity Church was the tallest structure in the city. However, since the nineteen seventies, the 1,350 foot twin towers of the World Trade Centre have dominated, prompting some to suggest that standing on the building’s observation deck is the closest to heaven many New Yorkers will   ever get.

The twin towers.

This attempt at humour came back to haunt me when  the Twin Towers were destroyed so soon afterwards. It was as though  there  was some  horrible prophesy in my light-hearted comment. The article was accompanied by a photograph of  a dazzling,  neon lit  skyline.   Despite everything, that  view is  still  very special:


My  concluding paragraph read;

 By now, the lights of the city were  creating  a fitting finale to my birthday. The  poem ‘Skyline’  by Christopher Morley was written in the  nineteen thirties.  Its opening verse celebrates New York’s  spectacular   night sky;   

Under what star was granted me

To live immersed where I can see

Her terrible tall majesty?

Who fated it

That I should squander youth and wit

To see her blaze and ride so high

On peacock sky?

 I would like to conclude with  another writer’s experience relating to the tragedy of  September 11.


In the summer of 2001, US author Gary Bloomfield sent 25 proposals to New York based publishing houses. He was aware that multiple submissions were frowned on, but figured he would probably never hear from the majority of them. (Such is the lot of the writer!)  Nevertheless he was surprised and disappointed when he did not receive a single response, either negative or positive.

In January 2002, Gary finally  received a call  from one  of the   publishers. It turned out that the company’s headquarters  had been located close to the Twin Towers. Their building was evacuated  and they had  relocated to Connecticut.  Much of their mail had been destroyed or contaminated during the disaster.  It was only when they managed to  retrieve surviving  items  that Gary’s submission was found and read.   When he  checked via MapQuest  he discovered that all the companies  he targeted had been in close proximity to  the Twin Towers.

Somewhat ironically, his book, Duty, Honor, and Victory was about  elite American athletes  serving on the front line during World War II. It was  published by Lyons Press,  the sole publisher who contacted him. The book went on to  receive  the Benjamin Franklin award. It remains  available on Amazon and has been described as ‘ Touching, memorable, and long overdue‘.  Thanks for allowing me to share your story  here Gary.

Gary Bloomfield's manuscript was lost after the Twin Towers attack.
Gary Bloomfield’s award winning book

The morning after the terror attacks I travelled by ferry across Sydney Harbour, gazing at our own spectacular skyline. I remember feeling a surge of love for the city, sending up a silent prayer that we may never have to cope with  such a dreadful loss of innocence. 

The Sydney Skyline, even more dear to my heart after the Twin Towers attack.

I planned to celebrate my 70th birthday in New York City, but of course Covid19 put paid to that. By January 2021 the death toll in The Big Apple had reached 35,000 and everything was in lock-down. The situation has improved since then, but will I ever be able to return? I really hope so. 💛🧡

Please feel free to leave a comment. I love to hear from my readers.

  1. Awwwwww, you must have some lovely memories of your birthday 🙂

    Did you ever manage to go up the either tower?

    How weird, that guys manuscripts!

    Thanks for sharing Pauline 🙂

    • Pauline

      It was truly my most memorable birthday Vikki, though now those memories are mixed with poignancy. No, we didn’t visit the towers, and we have not been back to New York since.
      I agree, Gary’s story is extraordinary..guess it highlights how fate or coincidence or whatever influences life.

  2. Pauline with tears welling in my eyes I read your outstandingly beautiful tribute to the Twin Towers 15 th anniversary. So many people went to work that morning never to return home. Each day we live is truely a bonus. Thank you for your beautiful words and for sharing your holiday memories with me. Kind Regards Pat Daley.

    • Pauline

      Thanks for taking the trouble to leave a comment, Pat. That day did indeed change the world.

  3. Our daughter Susan was in New York at the time I remember being worried Sick .We tried to call her a couple of times but to no avail . Then she rang us to let us know that she was OK .
    I often think of all the people who Never got that Call .Tragic Day .
    Red and Cathy New Zealand .

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.