Remembering 9/11

Written by Hollye Dexter

September 11, 2011

One World Trade Center
Taken early morning, Spring 2014

Los Angeles
Our radio clock alarm was set for 6:30 am, just like every morning. We had to get our kids up and ready for school. Cristen was 16, Taylor 11.
When the alarm went off, Troy was already in the bathroom brushing his teeth. Instead of the jokes and banter of the Mark And Brian radio show that I usually awoke to, I heard fear and panic in a newscaster’s voice. I sat upright in bed. Her voice cracked as though she was on the verge of crying when she said something about a second plane hitting the twin towers.
I jumped up and ran to the living room, turning on the TV just as the second plane hit. “Oh my God, Oh my God!” I cried. Troy came into the living room completely unaware. He stopped when he saw the horror on my face. We both stood in front of the TV, hands over our mouths. I was crying. Troy was silent.
In that moment our world had changed. There was a certain feeling of immunity I think we all had as Americans. In the U.S., we don’t die of malaria, or starvation, or even AIDS, and we certainly don’t get attacked by other countries on our soil. (At least not in the continental U.S.) I had lived with a foolish naivete that I was safe. Maybe we all did. But in one split second, we had to grow up and face a new reality. Hate and fear, the most dangerous weapons in the world, had breached American security.
The phones began to ring, family and friends checking in. There was worry about friends on the east coast. I kept my kids home from school. At this time of uncertainty, I couldn’t be away from them.  My best friend Erin came over. We all clung to each other, glued to the television, desperate for any answers, any hope. My children, emotionally overwhelmed, slept on and off throughout the day as the television blared in the background.
Not knowing what to do with my anxiety, I cooked. First tremendous stacks of pancakes and bacon. Lots of coffee. A few hours later, heaping bowls of Spaghetti and meatballs, chocolate chip cookies. It’s funny how we all treat stress differently. Maybe eating, and being able to feed the people I loved, made me feel alive.
That’s pretty much the way I spent that day, and the days after. Cooking, nurturing, feeding. And Crying. A lot of crying. The grief of those people on the streets searching for their loved ones. Seeing people jump from the ledges in desperation. I carried their pain.
Grief gave way to deep sorrow as I worried about the bloodshed I knew was now inevitable. Many more people would die for this, both Americans and Arabs. And 90% of them would be not our enemies, but every day people, shopkeepers, mothers, children, young boys who signed up for the military to get a college education. Thousands of innocents, who had nothing to do with this war, would die.
10 days after 9/11, I woke again at 6:30am with a song running through my mind. I got up and recorded it into a handheld recorder. This is the song that was somehow “given” to me as I slept that night.

(Produced, and all guitars and gorgeous string arrangements by my husband Troy Dexter)

“Are They Not Mine”
Oceans divide
Soldiers will unite
As we fulfill this prophecy
Eye for an eye
‘til all the world is blind
How many will fall
Before we see?
His blood is red
It spills like wine
The tears they shed
Are they not mine?
As cities fall
And mothers cry
For children lost
Are they not mine?
We cry out in anguish to Gods of different names
but were we not cut from the same cloth?
We wage our battles until the price is paid
But what is the price for innocence lost?
His blood is red
It spills like wine
The tears they shed
Are they not mine?
As cities fall
And mothers cry
For children lost
Are they not mine?
And is that not my brother
that you buried?
he lies beneath the cross now
that all of us must carry
It’s said that we are
A brotherhood of man
When did my brother’s blood run cold
To justify murder over holy land
To see his country bought and sold

In honor of all those lost on 9/11/01, and the thousands more in the ten long years since.

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  1. Beverlee

    Chills Holls…… We were awakened in our home in Ca. by my brother-in-law who phoned us from Florida. His only words "turn on the TV- a plane just crashed into the WTC"! Jeff immediately turned on the TV in the bedroom and we both stood there in disbelief. Both of us were crying. Our kids were only 2 & 4. I did the same thing as you that day cooking and feeding my loved ones. It gave me chills to read what you wrote that "it made you feel alive". YES, EXACTLY! I remember walking around for days just shaking my head. Watching TV and listening to all the stories felt like a vise around my heart. The kids were too young to understand why we were crying or what happened. It was so hard to put on a happy face for them but so easy to look into their eyes and feel so much love. I remember grabbing their little hands and kissing them for no reason other than grateful they were safe and loved. I remember for several days, even weeks, not being annoyed or frustrated by their cries, tantrums or anything else because I kept thinking about the alternative…. I could not get all those victims and their families out of my mind. I could not get past all the babies and pregnant women who lost their Dads and husbands that day. I could not get past all the PEOPLE who lost loved ones that day. I remember thinking about the two Dads/husbands who overtook the airplane and could not wrap my head around such heroism. I too, felt grief and sorrow about the days ahead and how many more lives would be lost to war…. Beautiful song, beautiful piece. Love you xoxo

  2. Anonymous

    I just was thankful my son had changed locations and then eventually left the firm that he worked for on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center. I still remember my one and only visit to him there. I only thought of What if? that day. And thent he 658 poeple lost along in his company. Over 200 he knew personally. Such a sad day that has kept us on the path of war with thousands more dead because of this event. So very sad. Beautiful words Hollye and as always wonderfully magical singing.

  3. Hollye Dexter


    Thank you for sharing your beautiful and personal story. Even though we were miles apart, we were feeling the same. Your story touched me.

    so grateful your son is safe and well, but so sorry for the tremendous losses. Thank you for sharing your story.

    LOVE YOU BOTH. <3 So grateful we have each other.

  4. Georgie

    So beautiful Hollye…..perfect words, given by such a lovely voice. Both story and song touched me deeply. Just peace, understanding and love is all we ask. Thank you for sharing this…..I will share!!

    Love you, Georgie oxoxoxo

  5. matters that matter

    My husband and I were floating the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River. We had had 3 days of absolute stillness and beauty. We were just getting up, making coffee and watching the sun come up over the mountains when another group of rafters floated by. As they passed, one of them said…" Hey, did you hear that the US has been attached…sounds like NYC is gone." And before we could collect ourselves to ask questions, they were gone. There we were, 2 day float before us before we could get to civilization. No one to ask, no radio, no nothing…The expression, Trapped In the Wilderness, was our experience.

  6. Hollye Dexter

    What an incredible experience Kristine. We all shared the grief, but in such different ways.

  7. Cheryl Moseley

    On that horrific day, my husband and i were JUST getting ready to do brain surgery when we saw the towers flaming on the screen. We were in shock. But we had to turn off our horror….only ONE person needed us to focus…..change the channel in our mind. For several hours, we couldn't give it a thought…..not more than a flicker.

    This is beautifully written, dear Hollye! And your voice is angelic!


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