A Man and His Thoughts

The random thoughts of a common man

Where were you?

Being the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks I thought it appropriate to take a moment and think back to where I was and how I felt when the planes crashed into the twin towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. I would imagine that nearly every single person in the Unites States can recall where they were and exactly how they felt when it happened. Time may have dulled the memories and emotions for some but when I recall that day my throat gets thick and my chest tightens up all over again.

In 2001 I was working as an Inside Sales Representative for a regional cellular phone carrier at a location about 20 miles from my home. On September 11 I was scheduled to work from 9 am to 6 pm so I was following my normal routine, as were so many others, and driving into work when the radio morning show I was listening to started talking about how a plane crashed into a building in New York City. Details were sketchy at the time so no one even mentioned the word “attack” but just assumed it was a crash. No one even realized that it was an airliner at that point. As I pulled into the parking lot a few more details had begun to trickle in and it became clear that an airliner had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. A “wow” quickly turned into an “Oh my God!” I got out of the Jeep and ran into work to tell everyone about what had happened and to turn on the TV to see if there was any news coverage. No one could believe it until the image of the burning tower was right in front of our eyes. I called Heather at home and told her to turn on the TV and that she wouldn’t believe what had happened. Shock turned into a state of disbelief a moment later when we watched the second plane crash into the South Tower. It was like nothing I had ever seen before and I couldn’t begin to make sense of what was happening. It was then that the the whispers of terrorist attack began to sneak out of the broadcasters mouths. Everyone in the room was just riveted to the television, sitting silently, soaking in every word. And then the South Tower fell. Words can’t accurately explain the anguish I felt watching the structure collapse into itself, knowing there were so many people still trapped inside.

It was as if someone had reached inside me and was twisting my insides, making it hard to move or even draw a breath. To be watching as people flung themselves from 80 stories rather than burn or be crushed felt so wrong. After the first tower fell everyone knew that it was just a matter of time until the North Tower fell, taking more lives with it. It was absolutely heartbreaking to watch the people fleeing through the streets of lower Manhattan, clouds of dust billowing behind them. Who could ever forget the ghostly images of the brave firefighters, faces covered in ash and soot, that cast aside their fear and headed into the towers and wreckage to save as many lives as possible? Reports came of a plane crashing into the Pentagon and then another crashing into a field in Pennsylvania. It all happened so fast that it there was no time to sort through the emotions…sorrow, horror, helplessness, grief and disbelief were mixed into an emotional cocktail that pinned me to my chair, and it all came to pass in less than two hours. Two hours that changed the landscape of New York City and scarred the hearts of everyone. Two hours that are burned into the memories of all Americans. Two hours that we will never forget.

I finally had a chance to visit the site last year and it was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. It was difficult to imagine the vast piles of rubble that occupied such a small space and such narrow streets. The memorial itself brought tears to my eyes and I think it was the perfect choice: two serene waterfalls in the spaces where there had been so much chaos. It has been 12 years since that fateful day and remembering still brings a tear to my eye.


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This entry was posted on September 11, 2013 by in Uncategorized.
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