I Will Never Forget Tuesday, September 11, 2001
On September 11, thirteen years ago I worked in downtown Manhattan. When I got out of the subway underground that day, I was met by paper flying in the air. Paper everywhere.
I asked a few by-passers about what was going on. Nobody knew. Everyone was on their way to work.
It was 8:49 a.m., just three minutes after what I later learned was the time when the American Airlines Flight 11 flew into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Five minutes later I was at work on the 31st floor in a building about six block away from the World Trade Center. People were looking out through the windows, observing the smoke coming from the North Tower. There were speculation on the floor about a small plane having accidentally crashed into the building. But nobody knew what was really happening.
Then at 9:03 a.m. we witnessed a big airliner hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center. In that moment everything changed. We knew it was real – we were being attacked.
An evacuation message was read over the building’s intercom system. The fire alarm sounded.
We calmly evacuated the building and started walking towards the East River, away from the World Trade Center.
My wife worked just two blocks away from the World Trade Center. But I was not able to reach her. It was impossible to make cell phone calls. Lines were overwhelmed.
As we walked up the bike path along the East River and had reached 14th Street, a bike rider told us the Pentagon had just been hit by a plane ten minutes earlier.
At 10:28 a.m. we heard a big strange sound, and people started yelling and screaming, pointing towards downtown. We turned around and saw a big cloud of smoke in the air, in place of the North Tower.
The building had collapsed.
About an hour later I arrived at our apartment in Chelsea. My wife was not there. I did not know where she was. I tried calling her again, but still could not get through.
This was the longest ninety-three minutes in my life. As she walked in through the door and our eyes met, time stood still.
Later that afternoon and evening, when it was possible to get through, we called friends and family. In some instances we just got voice mail and the message that their inbox was full.
Many of them never had a chance to hear and erase their voicemails. Because they could not make the call. They did not make it home alive like we did.
For me, it has been challenging to come to terms with that many did not make it, but we did.
Probably. I think it is as simple as this: Someone rolled the dice and we happened to make it this time.
I seldom talk about my memories from this day.
So much was lost. Not just the people who never got out or obtained fatal injuries as the buildings came down. Their families and friends lost their loved ones. Lost a father, a mother, a son, a lover, a friend… Some lost their hope.
But the memories of these people will forever be with me. I don’t want to forget. I believe we honor the people who are not longer with us by remembering them – by remembering them for who they were and what they stood for. Therefore, today I would like to say:
My heart and love go out to you who did not survive these attacks thirteen years ago. I will never forget that day. I will never forget what we all went through. I will never forget you.
In leather and friendship, and love for life,
New York City
September 11, 2014