As we look back an honor the victims of 9/11 I’d like to share my 9/11 story with you.  Everyone has a story to tell, everyone remembers that day.  Where they were, what they were doing, who they were with.  The awe at the first shaky videos that came from bystanders’ cell phones.  You’ll never believe where I was.  On an airplane.  I had just started a new job with GlaxoSmithKline.  The entire sales force was on its way to out west for training on a new product.  It was a beautiful, sunny day.  I got bumped up to first class.  My mentor, Donna, hadn’t been so lucky.  She was in the back of the bus.  (Probably in a middle seat.) We agreed to meet up outside of the plane at the transfer and grab some lunch.  Hurricane Erin was in the Gulf.   We were in the air for a few hours when the captain came on and instructed the crew that we would be landing within minutes.  Nothing more was said.  The nose pointed downward.  My tray table was still down.  The business passengers around me rolled their eyes.  They had important meetings to get to.  The plane slowed.  Looking out the window I could see a line of other planes around us.  All in a pattern.  Hurricane Erin, I thought, Texas may be getting hit with a bunch of wind and rain.  I can’t believe they diverted us so early.  Oh well, I hope they have something good to eat at this airport.

After landing, I noticed that Southwest employees were directing our Delta airplane.  Suspicious.  The plane didn’t approach a gate.  We simply rolled up to a parking area and the crew opened the door.  No ladder on wheels for us to climb down.  A 15ft drop.  That is when the cell phones started to ring.  People shared the information they learned.  Piecing the stories together we all got the picture.  The events of 9/11 happened while we were mid-flight.
Donna and I found out that we were in Little Rock, Arkansas.  We collected our luggage, rented a car and headed back to Buffalo.

We tried to get gas for the car but many of the gas stations were out.

We tried to rent a hotel room but they were all booked.

We got lucky, one room left at a Holiday Inn.  We stared at the TV with our mouths open.  We hadn’t seen any images up until this point.  We cried together.

It was a 3 day drive back home. I learned a lot about Donna.  She and her family live in Hamburg.  She has never heard of the band U2.  She is the proud mother of two teenage boys.   Andrew and Jeffery.  They are 12 months apart in age.

Donna told me that when she got in touch with her boys the first thing her son Jeffery said was, ‘Mom, what can I do?’

It was a 3 day drive back home. I learned a lot about Donna.  She and her family live in Hamburg.  She has never heard of the band U2.  She is the proud mother of two teenage boys.  Andrew and Jeffrey.  They are 13 months apart in age.

Donna told me that when she got in touch with her boys the first thing her son Jeffery said was, ‘Mom, what can I do?’

He enrolled in ROTC and is an officer in the Army.  His goal was to become an Army Ranger. He graduated from Ranger School last year.

I had the honor of photographing this soldier’s homecoming this past summer.  Let me share some of the images with you.


9/7/11 Here is an update from Donna:

August 30th was the best day of my life. LT Jeffery Lalka came back from Iraq. He arrived with ALL of his men; AND a Bronze Star.
Thank you for all of your prayers and support this past year. ~ Donna

 

It has been 11 years since the events occurred yet so many lives have been changed.  This is just one of the stories.

About 

Since 2010 Erin Feuerstein has been known for her high level of taste and professionalism as a photographer in Buffalo, NY. She is recognized as one of the top food photographers in Buffalo and is a sought after lifestyle/ family photographer. She enjoys working with brands to elevate their potential earnings through better photography. Erin is easy to work with and is comfortable working in both on-location or in studio. 716-573-3311