I’ve been reading the stories on this site for years and never had the nerve to write of my experience on Sept. 11th.
It was a bad 2 months for me since my brother dies on July 20th and my dad on Aug 20th both unexpectedly. That day Sept 11th I was driving into New Jersey going to see a lawyer to settle my dad’s estate.
We were on the New Jersey Turnpike when I heard on the radio that a plane had crashed into WTC. As I turned my head to the right I saw the smoke right before my eyes. The towers were just on the right from where I was driving. I didn’t really think of a attack on my country at this time.
As we continued driving my 2 year old daughter said to me “daddy plane” I looked up and saw a large plane directly over my head. That wasn’t rare to see planes so low since Newark airport was right there. As I glanced again to my right I saw another cloud of smoke, I believe that was the plane my daughter told me about.
I guess my mind was numb because I still wasn’t thinking about a attack until I heard them talking about it on the radio. I was thinking about the years I worked on Broadway and traveled through those towers every day and hoping that the people could get out in time.
When I got to the lawyers office we decided to keep the appointment, my lawyer was pretty emotional but we decided to get through the appointment since I drove from Staten Island.
1 hour later we were done and as we walked out of the office I saw everyone crying. The radio was on and they said the Towers were down. I couldn’t comprehend what I was hearing. I was totally numb. I went to pick up my daughter from my mom’s house the next town over and saw on the TV that the Pentagon was also hit. My wife and I decided to leave immediately just in case they closed the bridges back into NY.
As we made our way to the Bayonne Bridge (our link back into Staten Island)we saw hundreds of cars on the side of the road. The police pulled us over and said the bridge was closed and to park on the sides of the streets. There were police with rifles out. There was a lot of confusion of what was going on. We were asking about if the bridge would re-open and they told us to hang tight. We were there for 5 hours.
During those 5 hours I got out and talked to the people. It was like one big family. The color of your skin didn’t matter. A African-American gentleman saw I had a you daughter in my card and offered to get me some milk or juice from the local store. This boy was going around from car to car asking the people if they wanted cold bottles of water and when I took 2 bottles I said how much the boy said it’s free “my told me to give them out”. Those are the things that get missed in this tragedy. For that one brief moment we had come together as a country.
After the 2nd hour we were there we suddenly remembered that we would not be able to get our son off his bus. We franticly tried to call a friend but had no service from our cell phone. This nice gentlemen saw was struggling and let us use his phone to call. I struck up a conversation with the man and he was concerned because he had a son who worked at the Pentagon and wasn’t able to contact him. There were so many emotions going on it was really hard to handle. And if you looked towards your right you just saw big clouds of smoke where the towers used to stand.
After 5 hours we decided to back track back to my moms house in NJ. We got on RT 3 by Giants Stadium and the traffic came to a halt. The highway became a big parking lot. We didn’t move for 3 more hours. I later found out the police were chasing a white van where there were reports that people were celebrating on top of their van when the towers came down. We decided to turn off and go to a hotel since it was almost 8 pm. I stopped in 8 hotels in Secaucus and each one was booked. The 9th one said they have one room left in which they charged me $300 for a $60 room. I guess not everyone was caring that day!!!! When I got into the room at 9 pm that was the first time I was able to see the events of the day on TV. It was sickening to me but I couldn’t turn it off, I felt I needed to watch it.
I was able to get home the next morning and make it to work. I wondered about my co-workers, many who go thru the WTC daily. I didn’t lose any co-workers although one was trapped in one of the towers after the 1st plane hit. He somehow made it out alive with minor injuries. He saw many horrible things that day and I know it has changed him for the worst.
In Staten Island we lost hundreds of people. Several members of my church were lost. It was a rough time to go through. I don’t want my story to get political but when my boss was at his cousins wake he turned around and Mayor Gulianni was right next to him. He did his best to go to a lot of wakes and funerals.
To this day I’m still numb. I hate how people go on as if this had never happened. I want to scream when a co-worker complains that he got his brief case searched on the PATH train or complains that he was delayed too long at the airport. Folks we live in a new world, Sept 11th changed us forever, we all need to understand that.
If I could have a do-over I would have liked to help out in some way. Maybe cooking food for the workers. I always felt guilty not doing anything except giving my prayers. I saw all the Firetrucks when they brought them to Staten Island to the site where they were going through the remains. One fire engine was crushed almost to the ground and I asked someone close by who worked there if that was crushed by a machine. He looked at me and said it was recovered from the WTC site. I was blown away.
So there’s my story of September 11th,2001. I’m sorry it was so long but I needed to get it out. For the young people out there always remember what happened to us on that day. Terrorists came into our country and did this! This should never happen and this new generation must ensure that it doesn’t.!!
God Bless everyone who lost a loved one that day and God Bless this country. If we somehow could bond together we could accomplish a lot………