Okay so before I start, I hardly remember anything before 9/11 and I remember only a few things about its aftermath but I do remember that fateful day. On September 11, 2001, I was a 4 year old kid who’d be turning 5 in December. We lived in the quiet suburbs of Wyckoff, NJ, about 20 miles Northwest of Manhattan in Bergen County. I was in Pre K. My younger brother, who had just turned 3 the week before, was just starting preschool and he was going to have a cupcake party celebrating his birthday for his first day at school. My dad had a job in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I had actually been there with him before, I remember we went in on the train to his building. When he took me to the World Trade Center I always thought it was so cool, little did I know they wouldn’t be around for too much longer. The moment I found out, I was just sitting at the kitchen table, helping my mom make the cupcakes when her phone started ringing. It was my dads brother, Uncle Matt. He worked in downtown Manhattan at the time and saw it happen. He told my mom that a plane had hit my father’s building and that we needed to turn on the TV. Her face changed entirely when she heard that. I didn’t hear the whole conversation but I remember Mom rushing down to the family room frantically to see what was going on. I recognized that the building that was burning was the one with the antenna, which I knew was Daddy’s building. I know that I started yelling at the TV “Mommy! That’s Daddy’s building! I’ve been there!” The rest was a blur, my moms friend took me to her house in town for the day to take me off her hands and to distract me. It worked cause I kinda didn’t worry about the towers, I was doing stupid 4 year old things like playing with Thomas the Tank Engine. Anyways, a few hours passed before I was taken home, only to find out that my father had survived and made it home safely.
What happened is, my dad got to work a little late, and when he arrived at the lobby of the North Tower, he saw a commotion. So he looked up and saw that the building was burning. He tried walking inside because he had no idea what was happening. People were running all around in the building trying to get out. Right then and there he knew he wasn’t going to be working that day, so he bolted. According to him, he ran all the way from the North Tower to the Hoboken Ferry. It was there, from the Hoboken ferry that he had a front row seat to watch the second plane hit the South Tower. He said it felt like a movie, and it felt like it was all unfolding in slow motion. He rushed to get back home, where the whole family was waiting for him, saying prayers and hoping he was alive. My mom cried a lot that day because she thought she lost him. She went to a hill in Hawthorne, NJ, which overlooked the NYC skyline, and could see the smoke from the burning buildings which polluted the beautifully blue sky. She thought that he was gone. Thank God he wasn’t.
My father might have been lucky, but I knew of many others that weren’t. One was my uncle’s best friend, Billy Martin (may he rest in peace). Him and my Uncle John were huge Giants fans. The year they won the Super Bowl, they went to every game, even the NFC Championship in San Francisco. The night before he died, he called my grandfather up to talk about the Giants. He was like a second son to my grandparents, and his death was very hard for my mother and her side of the family to deal with. I don’t remember him, but I know that I met him as a baby. Also, a girl in my grade lost her dad in 9/11 and I remember my mom cooking dinner for her family. It was an extremely tragic day, and it brings back painful memories, but one positive thing I remember is that after 9/11, this country (and especially the New York/New Jersey area) rallied together to support all of the families of those who died. It was then that I realized I am so blessed to live in America, the greatest country on earth, where nothing can stop us. No matter what happens.