posted on Sep, 6 2006 @ 07:41 PM
Back when ATS was young, I wrote a detailed "from a New Yorker's perspective" accounts of what happened on, and soon after 9|11|2001. Well, in the
shuffle of databases and servers, many of those very old posts are lost. This is a reconstruction (as best as I can) of my experience on the day that
It was a stunning September day, so I walked the 45 blocks from our apartment to work in Midtown. It's not as bad as it sounds, only about 40 minutes
at a brisk pace. I have distinct memories of thinking, "what a spectacular day".
I tend to get to work early. That brief period from 7:45 to 9:30 is in incredibly valuable before the rest of the office arrives, and the phone/email
starts begging for attention. But some time before 9am, I have a vague recollection of thinking there are far too many sirens out there. And sure
enough, I noticed the headline on the MSNBC.com website "Jet hits the World Trade Center". I called home to see if my family was watching the news,
and my wife said the top of the building was covered in smoke! My first reaction was disbelief, the pilot must have had a heart attack or some other
Our office has four TV monitors in the reception area, so many of us began to congregate there to watch the news... everyone in disbelief. No matter
how long you've been in New York City (for me, just one year at the time), everyone knows at least one person who works in those buildings. They're
hugh. The office space in those two buildings alone equals all of the office space in downtown Atlanta.
As the fire spread, and it was obvious we were watching something very serious in which everyone above the impact was likely unrescuable until the
fire was out. Everyone began calling their friends who worked there. But of course, the wireless system was overwhelmed.
Then, it hit home, hard. Someone screamed from behind us, a young girl in our accounting office had just arrive to work and knew nothing of the news.
She broke down... he father works on the 92 floor of the North Tower, in a window seat, facing north, right where the hole is. We did our best to
console her, but for all she knew, she had just seen how her father died.
More people arrived. More news of friends, relatives, and spouses who work in the buildings. A close coworker couldn't get his wife on her cell phone
(she works on the 100-something floor of the north tower). Another person can't get her brother. Yet another is unable to connect with his best
friend of 20 years. The feeling in the air, with that many highly-stressed people in one room, is a palpable thick combination of tension, fear, and
intense anxiety. We could all feel it... it became oddly silent as everyone was around the TV's, waiting for something that resembled good news...
when a huge explosion burst out of the side of the south tower!
Everyone screamed. How could that happen? Where did that come from? Then, the angle of the news coverage changed, and it was clear that another
passenger jet hit the south tower. At that moment, we knew this was an attack... and two people collapsed under the stress.
At that point, news came in of the Pentagon in flames, all air traffic ordered grounded, and dozens of other rumors of hijacked planes still in the
air. The city closed all the bridges and tunnels and halted subway and commuter rail traffic... the city was locked down. As best we could, the
60-or-so of us came to terms with the transition of stress of fear for the lives of friends and loved-ones, to a broader fear of "what next?" What
will be targeted and how?
We had no idea the "what next" would be the total collapse of two gigantic office buildings. Screams. Terror. Crying. Yelling. Then... silence.
Especially when the north tower fell. At that moment in time, we all assumed that not only did tens of thousands of people in the buildings suddenly
die, but so did a vast majority of the city's finest and bravest. The sudden realization of the magnitude of the likely loss was beyond
(-- retelling this is getting hard --)
The rest of the day passed in a fog of numbness as we did our best to figure out how to get everyone home, and pair up people who couldn't get home
with those of us living in Manhattan. All traffic had sopped. Madison avenue was a sea of people, with the occasional emergency vehicle heading
Around 4:00, I was one of the last people out of the office to walk home... a very different walk than my morning stroll. The streets will filled with
people walking north. Many of the people were covered in a fine gray dust, leaving what looked like a trail of smoke in the breeze behind them. No one
talked. It was unnaturally quiet... that is, except for the loud cheers when the F-16's passed overhead as they circled the city.
Throughout the evening, the local news coverage transitioned from one of unimaginable catastrophe, to one of inspiring humanity as the harshest most
hardened city dwellers in the world opened their hearts and volunteered to help in the thousands. Food, equipment, people, and more people showed up
to do anything that could be done to help. Massive 4-star restaurants opened their kitchens to anyone that resembled a rescue worker or rescue
volunteer. In mere hours, the outpouring of aid became too much to handle.
But in that inspiring outpouring of volunteering and preparation is an image that haunts every New Yorker to this day... empty hospital emergency
rooms. Every hospital and medical center for miles around called in all staff, sent emergency trauma specialists to lower Manhattan, and prepared
their facilities for the worst in injuries and burn treatment. Then they waited for the patients... and waited... and waited... and waited. They
waited for days, as the frantic efforts to find survivors continued... but there were only a handful to tend to.
The events of 9|11|2001 have provided a tragic catastrophe that shapes our time. Many of us immediately began considering conspiracy possibilities.
And because of our collective speculation about the associated conspiracies, you can scarcely research anything related to 9|11|2001 without
encountering a mass of wild theories in all shapes and sizes.
It's important to question the influences and factors that bring about major events such as this. The questioning mind is the learning mind. But on
the morning of 9/11/2006, spend some time to reflect on the human toll. Imagine the hundreds of thousands of stories of grief, fear, anxiety, and
terror that happened on that day. And most important, pause and think of the more than 3,000 people who are no longer with us.
Let's not get so caught up in the details of the event, that we loose sight of the human element.
And as a side note, the father of the girl in our office made it out okay. He happened to be in the men's room on the opposite side of the building
when the plane hit, and he immediately went down the stairs. Others in our office were not so lucky.