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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

REMEMBERING 9-11-01

REMEMBERING 9-11-01
Ten years ago I was working for a large brokerage firm in Jersey City, New Jersey.  My office was on the fourteenth floor.  The side of the building facing east offered a clear view of the World Trade Center Towers across the Hudson River. 
September 11, 2001 was a beautiful clear crisp fall morning.  I commuted that day from Newark, NJ on the PATH, a train/subway that runs all the way to the World Trade Center.  I exited that morning at the Exchange Place stop, the last stop before the WTC, on what would be the last PATH train to the World Trade Center for 18 months.  I crossed the street to my office building, checked into my cubicle and immediately heard that a plane had just crashed into Tower One of the World Trade Center.

Small planes routinely traveled up and down the river showing the NYC skyline to tourists.  When we heard of the crash, most people assumed one of these planes had lost control and crashed. 

I went to the cafeteria for coffee and a roll wondering if anyone was hurt in this crash.  The cafeteria’s windows faced east to the NYC sky-line.  Looking out the cafeteria’s windows at the tower, it was apparent this plane was no Piper Cub. 

Somewhat disturbed by what I saw, I turned to pay the cashier when I heard gasps and then shouting, “SHIT, OH NO, HOLY GOD, ANOTHER PLANE FLEW INTO TOWER TWO!!”

I turned to see the result of the second crash.  Tower Two was struck and on fire.  Immediately it became clear what was happening. Terrorists! Arab Terrorists! Those “holier than thou, we know better than you, the great Satan accusing, Jew hating, backward, stupid, violent religion of peace and love, fanatical, perverted, sick faction of the Muslim world” TERRORISTS!

We were in the tallest building in Jersey City, not a likely target, but at this point everyone thought anything was possible.  The building was evacuated along with almost all of Jersey City and all of downtown New York.  Outside, in a daze, I merely watched the two towers burn.  I was numb.  I did not know whom I knew who worked in those towers, but I knew there would be friends and acquaintances that were in danger.

Staring at the buildings, there was what appeared to be a blast at the base of one of the towers.  It was huge.  I thought, “oh my God, there must be hundreds of workers, cops, and firefighters around that blast.”  Someone yelled “the tower is gone.”  “No way, I thought.”  It was just hidden behind the first tower, but I could not see it.  Gone.  One of the towers was just gone.  I used to work across the street from the towers.  I used to exit from the PATH train every day under those towers.  Thirty three years ago I watched those towers being built.  I watched Philippe Petite tightrope walk across those towers.  I watched a human fly climb to the top of one of those towers.  I watched a sky-diver chute to the ground off one of the towers.  Gone!  One of the towers was gone.

Dazed, I simply turned and began to walk.  Walk away from the river.  Walk toward home.  Walk away from the destruction, from the horror I was not able to comprehend.  I met a face I knew and we walked together.  I did not know his name. I knew he worked on my floor; he was some small familiarity in a world turned upside down.

We walked Zombi-like along with thousands of other displaced workers to Journal Square, the center of Jersey City; perhaps we could catch a train or bus to home.  I occasionally turned to see the towers…tower.  Half the way to Journal Square I turned to look at the remaining burning building just as it crumbled slow motion to the ground.  I felt as if I was in the middle of a bad action movie.


We reached Journal Square to find there were no trains and no buses.  Cell phone service was almost zero. 

We went into a small café.  A TV was on and there was talking about a plane attack in Washington, and a fourth plane unaccounted for.  What was going on?  When would it end?

The next few hours were a blur.  My “friend” managed to get through to his father on the cell.  His father drove to Journal Square.  They gave me a ride home.  It took several hours as some bridges were closed and the traffic was jammed. 

When I got home I learned that a close friend worked on the 92nd floor of Tower One.  I knew he worked downtown; I just never knew where.  I later learned that a co-worker, a broker on the American Stock Exchange, was at a breakfast meeting at the “Top Of The World” restaurant on the top of Tower One.  Weeks later I learned of another person I used to work with every day for two years had just taken a new job at the World Trade Center.

Three thousand people dead.   On 9-11-01 I thought it would be at least ten thousand.  Three thousand people, one a good friend, two acquaintances: I felt a New York-downtown kinship with all three thousand.  The towers themselves had a life for me.  They really were not pretty.  They were New York City -  ugly, functional, and big.  If ever there were New York City in-your-face-attitude buildings, they were the twin towers of the World Trade Center.  GONE.

Ten years later, the trade center is being rebuilt.  One huge “Freedom Tower” is being raised.  Downtown New York keeps on going.  Is it a mistake to rebuild?  Will the new Tower just be a target?  Perhaps,  but then we will rebuild again.
We will not capitulate to people who decapitate.  We cannot worry how we act or what we say for fear of upsetting a group that will kill cartoonists because they do not like the cartoon.

I am pretty sure they do not like us.  I am pretty sure there is nothing we can do to make them like us.  I do not want them to like us.  Their own kind will bring them down.  There are good people who will grow tired of the message of hate that is keeping them under the boot of the fanatics.  Their women will see that other cultures do not treat women like property.  They will see other people are free; they will want to be free.  When they see there is hope for better things, for a better life, they will rise in mass and spit in the face of the fanatics.

In years to come people around the world will come to Downtown New York.  They will visit the hallowed grounds of the World Trade Center and stare at the Freedom Tower.  They will know that this was where insanity reached its peak; this is where lunatics showed their true colors.  They showed the colors of hate, the colors of destruction, and the colors of death because death is what they desire.  This is where the rest of the world watched and the rest of the world rejected their colors. 

This is where the civilized world rose up and the civilized world said NO!        

15 comments:

  1. I was hormonal, emotional, and pregnant when it all happened. I cried at the drop of a hat for weeks, and just can't get over the senselessness of what happened.

    That same day, a woman I danced for a few tmes was on a vacation in the Carribean, and went scuba diving with her husband. He never surfaced. She waited days before any of her family could come down to be with her, due to the no fly rules.

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  2. I've seen quite a few of the documentaries on 9/11, and I have memories of coming home from school to see it on the TV. I was ten/eleven at the time, but I think the most moving tribute I've seen to 9/11 is Philippe Petite's "Man on Wire". Maybe I'm just a soppy sod, lol, but watching that and thinking about what was then to happen gives me goosebumps and makes me want to cry.

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  3. I think everyone remembers where they were on that day.

    I was at home watching it unfold on TV unable to comprehend that it really was happening and it wasn't just some television drama I had stumbled upon.

    10 years on and the horror of it all is still as vivid as it was on the day it happened.

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  4. That was awesome. Thank you for sharing that incredible story. You were THERE. You experienced it. I can see why that would never go out of your mind. I honestly can not even IMAGINE seeing those buildings come down in real life. This was very moving, I'm going to share it with others.

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  5. Hi Joe,
    Having read your bio in the past, I wondered if you might have been in NYC the day of the attack. You were so close to what happened, i really can't imagine how horrifying that must have been.

    While it is in the past, I still feel compelled to say I'm sorry for the loss of your friends.

    I did not lose anyone that day, but I had many friends who lived and worked in the city at the time.
    I don't normally like to talk about 9/11 and I honestly still can't bear to look at pictures or footage of the attack, but for some reason I did choose to write about my personal experience of that day as well. I'll be sharing that post tomorrow.

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  6. I just posted over on Saucy B's. Although I live all the way across the country, when I made it in to work I was looking at photos online and when one of them came up- I could smell the smoke and the dust as if I were there. Freaky I know, but i will never forget anything abou tthat day. It just all seemed so surreal.

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  7. I had just moved from New Zealand to LA a couple of months before 9/11. I was terrified, and when they grounded all the flights I felt claustrophobic. I just wanted to go home. I felt awful for all the lives lost and the incredible impact it had on NYC and the rest of the country. What I was amazed by was the way the whole country pulled together and showed their strength. There wasn't a car on the freeways without an American flag flying. The solidarity was impressive.

    (Visiting from Glow's FYBF - btw your link is broken, I googled you to find your post)

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  8. I watched it on television on the other side of the world and it was horrifying. I can't imagine what it must have been like to have been there. Ten years on, I am still sorry about the loss of your friends and those other 3000 people.

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  9. I'm amazed at your strength in posting this. I've viewed your posts before, but never said anything.

    I viewed from afar (Texas), knowing military families (lived by a military base), but was not actually there to see it unfold. I can't imagine what it would have been like.

    I wrote a post about 9/11, but it was nowhere near as touching or amazing as this. I'm glad to have read this. Thank you. After seeing you through several hops, and finally mustering the courage to comment, I will follow you- you're a great writer, and definitely entertaining and great at capturing the moments that matter.

    I will remember this on Sunday. Those who were there, and those who were nearby, and your post. It's one that has struck something. I'm glad to have read it.

    ~Ashley~

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  10. My brother (an Australian in the US) was living and working in Washington DC at the time. He was meant to be at the Pentagon (he worked for Nasa) that day, but the meeting was cancelled. I still have a brother. Others do not. Bittersweet.

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  11. I also linked up a post about 9/11. I have been profoundly affected by it but it is nothing compared to your experiences. Thank you for sharing.

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  12. You are such a patriotic man. I wish you didn't have this memory to relive 10 years on. It must have been very terrifying. Thanks for rewinding Cranky x

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  13. Immediately it became clear what was happening. Terrorists! Arab Terrorists! Those “holier than thou, we know better than you, the great Satan accusing, Jew hating, backward, stupid, violent religion of peace and love, fanatical, perverted, sick faction of the Muslim world” TERRORISTS!

    The about statement is spot on. Spot on.

    Have a blessed day Cranky. My best to Mrs. Cranky. ☺

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  14. I just came over from Sandee by Bee's blog.
    I so agree with everything you have said.

    I live in a border city and I know that the b*stards will just walk across our borders with the next massive wave of illegals. The cartels, corrupt police with the Mexican government will just skip hand and hand.

    cheers, parsnip

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  15. Beautiful Post! I read this and am in awe. Ten years later you recalled that day as if it were yesterday. Beautifully written! I have ever only seen one plane crash. It was at the airshow here and I hope to never see another. That day in 2001 so many innocent people lost their lives. Even one life was too many. Then I really didn't understand. At the time my computer was shot so I didn't have Internet. I think our country will forever be fighting the terrorists and jihadists who are hell bent on destroying America. Recently I read a piece written by an atheist that left me shaking my head. I don't care what beliefs others have it doesn't give anyone reason to attack another's beliefs. The persecution of Christians has went on for hundreds of thousands of years now. Yet it is hard to believe that it is continues in the millennium. I've also read several pieces lately and cannot believe the people in this country who side against Israel. Many of Israels enemies hate America too. I can remember Tom Brokaw on 9-11-2001 and watching video clips of the people in those same countries who are against Israel including Palestine- men women and children out in the streets celebrating our country's loss that day. I didn't know anyone who died that day but I mourned for those who did and for their loved ones and friends. I am very sorry to read about your losses on that day.

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