ORIGINALLY POSTED: SEPTEMBER 11, 2011.
This what the World Trade Center looked like the night of September 10, 2001.
This is what it looked early morning, Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
The story that I am about to tell is my personal account of the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. While I have brushed upon it before in previous posts, I have never gone into such detail as I do today.
Warning, this post is as long post as it is personal. I apologize if I get all yada, yada, yada but this is my therapy. I have to get this out.
As I prepared to leave for work on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the television was on in the living room. I was not watching it but listening out for the transit report. I already knew that it would be a glorious day. You see, the sun was bright, the weather was not too hot and the air was dry.
I remember while getting ready thanking God for blessing us with such a beautiful morning, which, quite honestly, was the primary reason I dragged my feet getting to work that day. This is one morning where running 45 minutes which proved be a good thing.
Good Morning America was on the television and as you can see, they clearly had nothing of interest to discuss that is until 19:50 of the video.
If the above video is not visible, you can check it out here.
What a plane hit the One World Trade Center?
Concerned, I continued to prepare for work thinking to myself, I always knew that something like this would happen which is reason I left a job of five years in the World Trade Center.
Still not quite convinced that this was an act of terrorism, I continued preparing for work and switching channels on the television. The first thought that came to mind was that the pilot lost control of the aircraft and this out of control aircraft descended it crashed into One World Trade Center. A terrorist attack was the last thing on my mind. After all, this is the United States of America; no one in his or her right mind would do such a thing.
My beautiful day was rapidly going downhill as I continued getting ready for work and at 9:01, I was set to leave for work and decided to check out the news events once more.
As I watched an aircraft come out of nowhere fast and crash into Two World Trade Center I immediately recognized that something dark and evil had descended upon New York City and still I was unaware that the Pentagon had been attacked or that Flight 93 had gone down in Pennsylvania.
I moved about in auto mode. I called my job and no one answered the telephone. Next, I called my best friend who is a public school teacher on her cellphone. I never call her when she is teaching but this morning, I did. She was in shock but tried to hold it together for her students.
I decided then and there that I had to get to Manhattan. To this day, I have no idea what propelled me except that I could not allow terrorists to have dominion over my comings and goings.
Fast forward (sort of), the trains are still running. I board the train for Manhattan. The train pulls into the President Street station. It sits there for what feels like an eternity. There are about fifteen passengers in the train car with me, everyone to their own thoughts.
After ten minutes, I noticed transit workers in stealth mode moving toward the staircase. Not one transit worker addressed the passengers. We hear a lot of screeching sounds coming from an inaudible public address system but that’s about it. Then along one at a time come the train conductor and the motorman.
What’s up? Where are they going? Two levels up. They did look back once at the passengers still on the train but said nothing as they ascended upward abandoning the passengers on the train.
It occurred to me that they were making a fast exit. I then got up, stepped on to the platform and quickly noticed that it was just us passengers.
At that point, I peeked into the train car and said quite loudly, “It’s every man for himself. The conductor and motor man left. We have been abandoned and I don’t know about you but I am not hanging around here waiting for a fireball to come flying through these tunnels.
That statement was enough to get passengers moving out. We climbed two levels of staircases before exiting the President Street train station. Upon reaching the first level, it was clear that we really had been abandoned because the token booth was empty as well.
I remember standing on a corner upstairs from the train station and as I looked toward Manhattan, I saw the twub towers burning and huge thick clouds of black smoke.
At first, I thought I was imagining it or maybe dizzy because even on this corner, I could clearly see the buildings sway.
After a while, I went back down into the train station to see if I could find out some news.
Ten minutes later, I am back on the street corner peering out and I am now peering at even larger plumes of thick black clouds of smoke but no twin towers.
I ask out loud, “Where are the twin towers?” At that moment, I hear as if on cue coming over the station’s PA system, “a building collapsed in Manhattan.”
This was no longer a beautiful day but one of evil and chaos.
Awaking me from my daze is a fighter jet flying overhead. Whether it was one of the two Supersonic F-15 Eagles sent to New York from Massachusetts, I do not know. What I do know is that this fighter jet much like the others was flying really low. It was loud and while I recognized it as one of ours, it did not register at that moment.
Is the United States under attack? I have to get home. I think to myself, “If it’s the last day on earth, I must get to my family.
I am 50 ft. from a bus stop but I cannot board one bus. They are all full to the max so I look for a cab but there is not one in sight and so I begin to walk several miles home.
As I walked, I noticed that a fighter jet flew overhead every ten minutes or so. Nerves were on edge that morning. Each time a fighter jet flew over, people looked up in fear.
As I made my way walked Nostrand Avenue, I prayed and stopped at St. Mark’s Catholic Church and later Church of St. Jerome to take a break from the sun, fighter jets and to pray.
There was a time when the doors of these churches were locked because of their location but this morning they were open for all in need. Churches of other denominations along my route home were also open.
As I continued my journey home, deep in prayer for those who I am sure perished moments ago, my country, my family and our safety, I noticed that not everyone was surprised.
There are plenty of establishments on Nostrand Avenue that are owned by Muslims. I suspect that there may even be a mosque or two.
As I passed these establishments, Muslim men stood outside very quiet. Some appeared nervous. It was clear that many were concerned as others followed the events inside on television or over the radio. There was no joking or tomfoolery but as I walked by, I looked into the faces of these men who did not look back and realized that the last thing on their faces was shock.
It was at that moment, that I thought to myself, “They know, they’re in on it.”
As I continued my journey homeward bound with fighter jets flying overhead, I noticed that the huge plumes of thick black smoke had caught up with me along with the debris falling out of the sky.
Finally, I am standing on the steps of my apartment building and yes the thick black clouds of smoke are still overhead spreading further across Brooklyn and I think into Queens along with the toxic debris.
I look down and there sheets of paper and small pieces of what I assume once existed as office equipment or the ashes of what was once a man or woman.
I remember feeling shocked that these black clouds of smoke and the debris from the World Trade Center collapse travel such a distance, i.e., to the far side of Brooklyn. How could that be?
Upon reaching home, I unsuccessfully attempt to make a few telephone calls. Failing that, I finally turn on the television where I learn of the attack on the Pentagon and later Flight 93.
I now prepare myself for conversations with my son and my nieces. I advise them not to seek revenge no matter how much it hurts. I then meet with my son’s friends and tell them the same.
I am thankful that on this morning, my 21-year-old unemployed son was at home with me and that he no longer worked at 120 Broadway in spite of the fact that I hit the roof when he quit. While he looks like a tough guy, my son has the endurance of a lion and the heart of a lamb.
I did not find out until ten days later but that morning a very close friend of my son’s and former co-worker left his job at 120 Broadway and ran down the street to help the people trapped in the World Trade Center. This young hero did not work for the FDNY or NYPD. He was a mail clerk who worked for a brokerage firm.
I had the honor of meeting him twice and will tell you that this hero too had the endurance of a lion and heart of a lamb. This true hero has not been heard from since. God bless this man whose name escapes me and may he rest in peace.
If Darrell was there, I know for a fact that he would have gone into the World Trade Center to help.
As relieved as I am and thankful, I feel guilty for being thankful while so many others lost loved ones that day. Each time I revisit the morning of September 11, 2001 (even as I type), I cry, I pray and ask God for forgiveness if I am being vain or selfish.
Wednesday, September 12, 2001
I rise early and after morning prayers, I decide that I am going to work. Why? Because I refuse to let terrorists take away my choice, liberty, and freedom. I refuse to let them have this one.
I am on a Manhattan bound train. There are only five other passengers in my train car. It never occurs to me to ask, where is everyone
Finally, I make it to Wall Street in Manhattan and the train just sits there.
I look out the window of the train to the other side and immediately notice that the platform is empty. I look down on to the tracks and all I can see is water. There is so much water on the tracks that I can hear the water swishing under the train I am on.
I then notice a strong smell of jet fuel and realize that I am on a train that is hooked up to a live third rail immersed in water and jet fuel.
Okay, now I am getting nervous and realize that coming to Manhattan this morning may not have been wise.
I am desperate for the train to pull out but it does not. The train sits at Wall Street for two hours during which time I am inhaling the fumes from the jet fuel, toxic dust and what I suspect to be incinerated human remains.
I get to work at 10:30 and am surprised to see that I am the only one in the office. Duh!
Because many of the phone lines were down in parts of the state, my boss could not reach me to tell me to stay home that day.
The smell and taste of jet fuel stayed with me for three months and I now suffer from asthma but since I have had bronchitis more than a dozen times in my life, I cannot connect the asthma to the inhalation of jet fumes.
The events of that day, ten years ago is a wound that just will not heal. I am not alone.
WE MUST NEVER FORGET.
WE HONOR ALL THOSE WHO PERISHED TEN YEARS AGO TODAY.