September 11th 2001: Memories and Reflections
This page is a tribute to all those that were negatively affected by the events of September 11th 2001, to the people that perished and the people that survived, to the emergency responders that rushed to help, to the men and women that I saw jumping and falling, to the souls who once occupied the bodies that fell and piled up, to those that I saw running, stumbling and crying, to those whom I could not see due to the thick smoke but that I heard screaming, to the crowds that I saw walking, to the man covered in bandages and ash that I saw sitting at a steering wheel, to the paramedics and firefighters, to the male policeman and female coworker that got me out of the chaos, to my father who walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and all the way back home, to the pregnant woman who named her daughter Hope after walking down numerous flights and barely escaping with her life, to all those that were with me and around me, running, watching the towers fall, being enveloped in smoke and covered in ash, to those who walked and those who ran, to those who were dazed and those who rushed to help, to my coworkers that helped dig through the rubble and salvage the human remains, to all of those that wore face masks together with me to prevent the inhalation of dangerous smoke in the aftermath, and to all of those people that I have not seen since the day of 9/11/2001.
WTC Image Credit: Lil' Mike on Flickr under Creative Commons license: photo of WTC on 9/11 from an office
In addition to those recognized above, I want to give a special mention and thank you to my two coworkers that got me out of there on that day.
When I first left my office, running down five flights of steps, and entering the chaotic streets, I closely followed a co-worker, Francine. It was she that led me to another coworker's police car, and yelled at me to get in during the chaos.
It was the coworker/policeman that allowed us into his car, drove us slowly through the crowds, took us to his home in the Bronx, invited us into his home and hosted us there for the rest of the day, and eventually drove us back to our individual homes.
I honestly do not fully remember the name of the policeman. I think that his name was Robert or Bob, his last name might have been Grant, and he worked as an inspector in the waterfront division, which shared an office with my division.
Thank you, Bob and Francine, for helping me on that fateful day. The mere words "Thank You" seem trivial when speaking about something of such significance, but I suppose that these words will have to suffice for now.
Photo of NYPD car by ADL999 on Flickr, licensed under Creative commons
I Was In The WTC area Before, During and After the 9/11 attack
I Was There Before, During and After the destruction.
I was there before 9/11. I was there the month before, the week before, and the day before.
Growing up, I had visited my father's office, in that area, a number of times, especially for Take Your Daughter To Work Day, and had also visited the World Trade Center.
In June of 2001, I got my first job out of school. I worked down the street from the World Trade Center. I would walk past, through and around the area on a frequent basis. There was a kosher hot dog stand on the pavement in front of the twin towers, and I would sometimes go there to eat lunch. Other times, I would pass by on the way to the bus, the store, or to visit my father's office nearby.
Photo of Twin Towers prior to attack, by irargerich on Flickr, under Creative Commons License
Warning: Reading Further Might Make You Sad.
Tragic, Detailed Memories Are On This Page.
I was there on 9/11/01.
I was there on 9/11/01. I had passed the Twin Towers on the way to work. I was settling down in my office when I heard a big boom. I looked down and saw people running. I looked up and saw the fire in the tower, red and yellow fire, black smoke, and papers flying out of the windows. As we watched, the other tower was hit and burst into flames. The intercom announced an emergency evacuation, as we hastily fled down five flights of steps and into the chaotic street. I heard the helicopters flying above. I listened to people saying that we were the next targets, that no one is safe, and no one knows who will be attacked next. I watched the burning, the bodies falling, the people running, the mob in the streets. We heard the loud booms as the tower fell, each floor collapsing. I saw the thick cloud of smoke, heard the deafening sounds around me as if in a dream, held on tight and in sheer panic to something in front of me.
My coworker at the time was a policeman, and he drove me and other people out. The streets were filled with people and smoke, and we had to drive very slowly through the crowds. I saw people covered in debris, in smoke, in shock. I listened to a man as he said to me, "My wife was in that building a few minutes ago. Where is she now?" and I had no answer for him. The building was no longer there.
I watched the second tower fall. I watched the fire trucks, the police, the barricades. I listened to the news stating that other places were under attack. I realized that I was one lone girl in the midst of a war. I tried making phone calls, but the cellphone did not work. I worried about my father, because I had no way to get to him, and no way to know where he was. We had parted before we had passed the World Trade Center, and I hoped that he was ok. I saw the images that are now a blur, hard to pinpoint, hard to describe.
Photo of 9/11 WTC Attack by 9/11 photos on flickr, under Creative Commons license
Returning To The Site, Over and Over
I was there after the destruction. A few days afterwards, we were summoned back to work, in the same building, down the street from the World Trade Center. We were given masks to wear on our faces to filter the toxic air, and Government ID's to display, as proof that we were allowed to be in that blocked off area. Typically, people were not allowed in the area. I worked for the Cranes and Derricks Division of the New York City Department of Buildings, and 64 additional cranes were set up at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the attacks. Every day, several inspectors were at Ground Zero.
While my coworkers, the inspectors, were there to ensure the safety of the cranes, they ended up helping with the cleanup as well. They would come back with stories of finding decaying bodies that showed the signs of the injuries, burns and destruction that they endured. I heard about what they found while cleaning up the human remains found in piles of debris, and I have edited the details for the readers' comfort.
Some of this information I processed, and some I heard as if in a dream, hoping I would wake up and it wouldn't be true. Every day, I watched the smoke rising up from the ground. For months, whenever I would see smoke coming from a hole in the ground, I was reminded of 9/11, and I thought that it was somehow connected. Perhaps it was. There were a lot of after-effects of the attack. 100 days after the attack, smoke was still rising from points in the ground.
I traveled the buses and subways, which took alternate routes, which led me on a detour, forcing me to take a long walk back to the very site they were avoiding. I wore the mask, feeling stifled by the air within it. I had to take it off to eat, and felt like taking it off to talk and breathe more normally. I would take it off, but then I would be concerned about the smoke, and put it back on. Off and on, off and on. I looked at the barricades around my building and the heightened security. They were concerned that a truck with a bomb would try to slam into the building.
I listened to my coworkers, each with their own story. I heard my coworker tell us about his son Johnny, the apple of his eye, a firefighter who waved at him as he passed by, and was never seen again. He was killed when the towers went down. I met a woman on the bus, who had been pregnant at the time, and walked down many flights of steps and got out on time, while her coworkers perished. She then gave birth, and named her daughter Hope.
My father got out by walking across the Bridge, and all the way home. I was driven to the Bronx by a coworker/police, and stayed there for most of the day. It was only about 10 hours later that he was able to drive me back to my area.
I was there before, I was there during, and I was there after...
Photo of 9/11 World Trade Center Attack credited to 9/11 photos on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons
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