My 9/11/01 Experience

  1. I was a college sophomore in September, 2001. I was in my computer room, browsing dmbml, a Dave Matthews Band message board. I had my TV on to a repeat of NewsRadio, and I didn't have class until 9:50 that morning.
  2. My mom yelled upstairs, "Anthony, put on the Today Show. A plane hit one of the twin towers!"
    "It's probably just a small plane with an inexperienced pilot," I thought, as I changed the channel. It was immediately clear that this was a commercial airplane.
  3. My first thought was that the pilot must have fallen asleep or made some other major mistake. No one thought anything about terrorism yet. The conversation on the air was that this may have been an accident.
    It was hard to imagine anything else. Maybe I was just naive at the tender age of 20
  4. I couldn't look away. Being a History major, I'm normally fixated on big news stories, whether they are good or bad
    It's always been that way. I've been fascinated by the Cold War, Unabomber, and TWA Flight 800 crash, too.
  5. As I was watching an executive producer on the today show talk about what she saw as she walked her daughter to school when she screamed that there was another explosion
    My stomach dropped immediately. The terror in her voice, as she said she saw a plane fly past her apartment window, a large plane, and turn and smash into the other tower. I'll never forget that scream.
  6. At 9:03, I saw, live on television, a plane come into the picture and smash into the building. I saw murder. Instant death. An act of war. All in front of my eyes.
    It's an image I'll remember for the rest of my life. It scared me. It made me wonder what was next.
  7. About three minutes later, my brother, Frank, called the house. At the time, he was a young 30 years old. He worked at the World Financial Center, across west street from the twin towers. He wasn't there yet, thank god. He was listening to Howard Stern, and he wanted us to know he was okay. He turned around and headed home.
    It's crazy to think how many more people would have been at work if these attacks had been just an hour later.
  8. I went to class, because I still thought I needed to go. Our teacher in my philosophy class had taught a class from 8:20-9:40 and our class was 9:50-11:10. When he got to our class, he didn't know about the attacks. Cell Phones were basically for calling, not news alerts and texts, yet. I remember he said, "This is significant".
    He tried teaching class, but we were less interested in the Phaedo and Socrates' death than we were about what would happen to us next. So, he let us leave at 10am.
  9. I remember walking to my car wondering what would be next. The White House? The Capitol? My dad worked at Rockefeller Center, was he at risk? My sister lived near Lincoln Center. What could happen to her? The sky was clear that day. Quiet. It felt surreal.
    I wasn't worried about my safety, though. I figured that Long Island didn't have as many potential targets that would be big and bold enough to hit. My main concern was for family and friends.
  10. I got in the car around 10:05, headed home on a very empty highway, and listened to 1010 WINS news. That is when I heard that the first tower was gone. Collapsed. That the skyline was changed forever.
    I couldn't comprehend it. How does that happen? How many thousands of people died? What would happen with the other tower?
  11. I got home, and watched the second tower collapse at 10:28.
    I witnessed more death. Absolute horror.
  12. All of this, plus the fact that 2 more planes were hijacked and crashed, one into the pentagon, our nation's symbol of defense. And the other into a field, that was theorized to be heading to the White House. There were reports of up to 4 other planes that may have been hijacked, but they all were found to be safe and landed.
    Immediate thoughts of what it must have been like to be a passenger on those flights. At least the death would have been instant 😟
  13. There were no planes in the sky. My mom, grandfather, and I went to my brothers house to be with him and my sister in law. We heard military jets above every now and then, which scared me every time, not knowing if maybe there was another attack happening
    It wasn't, though. The terror had ended. The pin had just begun.
  14. All of the bridges and tunnels out of the city were closed, so basically there was no way on or off of Long Island. My dad walked up to my sisters apartment and stayed there overnight.
    Luckily we heard from them relatively quickly. Cell phones were not usable in the city, as the systems were overloaded.
  15. My brother was supposed to be recognized as a new parter at his accounting firm on September 12, at Windows on the World, a restaurant on the 106th floor of the North tower. Imagine if these attacks happened a day later? My brother would be among those who lost their lives.
    I think about how many people lost someone close to them that day. Mothers, fathers, siblings, husbands, wives. There is a lot of pain from these attacks.
  16. The next few days felt strange. We were all on edge. At work, we started donating water bottles for the rescue effort. My college started checking our cars as we came in. Everyone was sad.
    Nothing ever went back to normal.
  17. I remember driving to Six Flags later that week, and driving right past Ground Zero, across the river on the BQE. I saw the billow of smoke. It was a sobering reminder of how lucky I am.
    I'll never forget.
  18. We will never forget.