9/11 Letters

Published September 10, 2006

Cut off from the news of the world

My husband and I went to the Tuscany region of Italy and it was our first trip abroad. Although we had a wonderful time staying in a villa in Arezzo, we were cut off from the rest of the world because we had no TV, phone or English newspaper.

On Sept. 11, 2001, we were in the town of Arezzo and were crossing the street when I was struck by a car in the crosswalk and thrown in the air, coming down on my back and sliding up the street a short distance on the back of my head.

I was conscious, but had a huge lump on the back of my head. When the ambulance came, the attendants did not speak English and I was frightened to go to he hospital not knowing what they would be doing. My husband agreed to watch me for any signs of a concussion as we would be leaving in two days. So that next morning we took a train to the Malpensa Airport. We had been on the train some time before the Italian family asked us in broken English if we would be able to leave for U.S.

We had no idea what he was talking about until he showed us an Italian paper. We were terrified because we believed we were at war. It was much later that night before we got the information in full from a U.S. couple at the hotel. We, of course, were unable to leave for five days after we were initially supposed to leave.

When we landed in N.Y. we saw the hole where the twin towers had been and the smoke still rising from it. I don't think there was a dry eye on the plane and I don't think I ever loved my country as much as I did at that moment.

All I have to do is remember that experience to remind me how blessed I am.

- SHERRYL MANTELL, St. Petersburg

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