Through out history there are dates and moments that people remember very clearly. The day JFK was shot is one that your grandparents remember vividly and your Great Grandparents talked about Pearl Harbor. 9/11 is date that all American’s will remember where there were when the events of the day. This is my account of the entire day.
It was the only day I was going to work that week. I had taken the week off to help Aunt N move into our childhood home that she bought from Grandpa. I had to go into work that day for a weekly task that I was responsible for. I remember the drive to work, it was a beautiful day, the weather was perfect and there was not a cloud in the sky. I was devastated I had to go to work. I simply hated my job at the time and I was so sad to go to work that day. I got in a little early and I was not there long before the CFO who had an office across the hall from me came into my office and asked me if I heard about the plane that crashed into one of the towers. He said he had just talked to his daughter who worked in a Empire State building and she said she could see it. We talked briefly about how it had to be a little plane or a traffic helicopter because there was no way it could be a big plane.
I went to cnn.com moments before the site crashed from billions of people going on it. It had the first picture of the tower on fire. I left it on my computer and as word spread and people were arriving to the office my office became the place to see a picture. Our radio station for our hold music on our a phone was a news station so we all had our phones playing the news. There were so may erroneous reports, the capital building was on fire, the city of Newark was on lock down, they had caught people….etc. Someone wheeled out the tv from the conference room to the central part of the office and the only channel they could get because the antenna for tv signals was on on the towers was Telemundo… the spanish channel… as you know I know NO Spanish but everyone in my office did so I just looked at the grainy footage of the towers live and hoped someone would translate any important reports.
For some reason I happened to be there watching the TV right as the towers fell. It was unreal, it was inconceivable to me that the towers would fall. That started the quiet panic in the office. People were trying to call anyone they knew who worked in NY. In all honesty at the time you had no idea how far the debris had spread, damage to subways…etc. For hours that day it was conceivable that if you knew a person who was in New York, particularly lower NY they could have been injured or worse. Luckily your cousins Dad was not at work that day since he worked directly across the street and had been in the towers the first time. Your Aunt N found out about what was going on by her phone ringing off the hook for people asking where he was and if he was ok.
The office went into planning and panic mode. Half the office was looking for loved ones and the other was just freaking out that the world was going to end. Many people left either because they wanted to or unfortunately for many it was because they were not able to locate someone from their family. In true fashion of how horrible my job was I was the one who was required to stay until all the work of our department was complete which was actually quite a project that particular day. I ended up getting all the work done and was able to leave.
I remember the drive home there was like no one on the road, that was my recollection, not only did I feel like I was the only person who had to stay at work but I just felt like I was the only one who just getting home now. I went to Aunt N’s for some reason she had tv reception. I cannot remember why I think it was because her cable had not been set up yet so she had the antenna that Grandpa used (we never had cable) that was still getting reception.
For the rest of the day it was just intense news watching and discussion of our own theory’s. While we were very lucky to have no very close friends or family die on 9/11 we knew many people who did. A common thing for living in the NY area. People held out hope for days, I remember the rumors that went around that injured people wandered to hospitals and people were finding them…etc. In the days after there were makeshift billboards of missing people that were near where the towers were. I think the saddest part is that for all the hope that people had in those days after of pulling people out of rubble or finding them in hospitals it simply did not happen. When I went to donate blood in the days after 9/11 tons of people were there and the reality is none of that was used for any victim.
I do not know how to fully explain how 9/11 changed my life. I would say it motivated me to leave my job seeing how they treated me that day and my general “life is to short” attitude that was rampant at the time. There was ridiculous amounts of patriotism to the point that I thought for the few years after 9/11 those who lost someone might be annoyed with all the bummer stickers and nonsense statements people made.
I would say as time went on when I traveled and met people who found out where I lived I was met with two questions “did you know anyone who died?” and “I am surprised you still live there.” I really do think 9/11 shook the rest of America in a way that I do not completely comprehend. I can only imagine that because the news coverage was so dramatic and if you have never been to NY you imagine millions and millions of people affected. I have met people who said they would never fly again but do not know anyone who was affected…etc. I cannot imagine the fear these people have and I feel bad for them because those kinds of decisions are what the terrorists hope for.
While I hope there is nothing in your lifetime you will write about like this it seems that each generation as a moment they remember. I hope that it is really positive one in your generation not one that is associated with death and destruction.