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Our story Ten Years After

Sunday marks the tenth anniversary of the horrendous attacks on NYC and America where over 3000 innocent people lost their lives. For my new readers who may have watched the horror unfold on TV, I'm going to re-run last year's post which was written by my Pop. He works a couple of blocks from the World Trade Center. Ten years later, he still cringes when a low-flying plane flies overhead. While he isn’t quite the writer I am, I hope you’ll take the time to read his first-hand account. Take it away, Pop!

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ 

I remember going to the Yankees/Red Sox game the night of 9/10/01. We had an amazing thunderstorm with the rain cascading down the facade of the old stadium and the game was cancelled around 9 pm. On the subway home, we talked about getting to work on time instead of going in late, as we had planned. Yanks/Sox games always last way too long.

I got to the office about 8:47 am that morning and had just turned on my computer to start work. It was a beautiful Tuesday and it was the weekly close. I had signed on and began to open applications when I heard someone say the WTC had been hit by a plane. We thought the plane was a small private plane.

A group of my coworkers and I went to the window to see what was going on. We saw the North Tower ablaze; papers fluttering in the sky like large snowflakes. We also saw objects too heavy to be paper plunging to the earth and didn’t know we were watching people jumping from the building. All you could hear were the sound of sirens from the Fire Department, Police Department and EMS all rushing up Broadway to the disaster. We all wondered how they would fight this fire.

Another coworker yelled a plane was coming. As she yelled, the entire bank of windows on the 27th floor of 1 State Street turned dark as the plane whizzed so close by you could read all the markings on the bottom. The building shook from the power of the jet engines.

The plane sped toward the tower, although it looked to be happening in slow motion. The explosion that followed was better and brighter than anything Hollywood could create. My boss started yelling it was time to get out of the building. He was yelling to get our belonging and evacuate.

People were running to get their things while I—being the grandson of a fireman—stood transfixed by what was unfolding at that window. It just amazed me that a box of continuous feed computer paper floated out from one of the broken windows and then slowly unraveled as it made it’s way toward the ground. Then I felt the heat from the explosion and I too knew it was time to leave.

27 flights of stairs later, we were standing in Battery Park watching, again not clear as to what we had actually seen. No phones—either land lines or cell—were working so we couldn’t call our loved ones to tell them we were ok.

R and V and some others chose to stay and try to find a phone that worked. My department chose to walk. We wound our way up the East Side of Manhattan looking for safety, being careful to walk along the water and away from the buildings. Somewhere in Chinatown we heard the roar of what sounded at first like another plane and then like a subway train. The South Tower had fallen and what we heard were the floors pancaking. Fortunately, we were far enough from the plume of smoke and dust that we didn’t inhale any of it. We continued to walk until we were in Little Italy when we heard the sound again. This time we turned around in time to watch The North Tower falling. None of us would ever be the same again. None of us will ever forget that moment. It will be hard to forget that 14th Street (about 4 miles from where I work) is where civilization started to appear again only there were soldiers directing traffic.

We ended up on 62nd Street and 1st Avenue, ironically near where I had once worked. I thought about that as we walked. We caught our breath, got to see some tv coverage, got something to eat and it was time to move again. The attacks took place before 9:00 am EST and I got home to my two cats sometime after 8:00 pm EST. In between, a friend and I saw 7 WTC also collapse from the attack. We were at 23rd Street and the Hudson River waiting for a rescue boat to take us to Jersey.

I now cherish the extra time I’ve been given and the people I knew then and know now. I’m sorry we all had to go through this, but at the same time it has made us better and stronger.

Everyone after 9/11 wrote and spoke how they never would forget this day but since then it sometimes seems to me people look at what happened as an inconvenience. People from the rest of this country seem to want to forget it was America, not New York City that was attacked.

We all remember our brave soldiers who gave their lives every year on Memorial Day and all our soldiers who are doing and have done their duty on Veterans Day. On this day we need to remember all the innocent who did nothing more than come to work that day or get on a plane to begin a vacation/business trip.

I wish for all of you peace, health and happiness for whatever days we all have left. Please don’t forget as I never will.

TW's note in her December 2001 Christmas cards:

Nine One One—September 11, 2001—The day CK’s Pop realized he worked in a war zone. No one really expects to look out their office window and see a plane zoom by—within about 20 feet of the window—and slam into another building filled with innocent people. Nobody should have to feel the explosions that rocked his building—five blocks from the World Trade Center—that morning or see people jumping to their death. Far too many people in lower Manhattan had to do those very things that morning. Our lives and attitudes were changed that day but we were luckier than others. What’s 27 flights of stairs, followed by an 80 block walk when two of your neighbors made a trip down 88 flights of smoky stairs, saw co-workers burned over 30% of their bodies, arrived in the WTC plaza as Tower 2 collapsed and lay among the death and destruction of the building they’d worked in. Donald walked down those 88 flights of stairs on a prosthetic leg and ran for his life through pitch black smoke and ash twice that morning. And me, I just watched from 32nd Street, hoping that the Empire State Building wasn’t the next target. My co-workers held each other and cried as we witnessed the towers pancake down and turn to dust. The worst part was not knowing where CK’s Pop was. If he was caught up in the dust and debris of the crumbling towers. I didn’t hear from him until almost 12 hours later when he finally made it across the river to NJ and called my friend’s house which served as my overnight shelter while the bridges and tunnels were closed. That same friend found out the next day that her neighbor was crushed by a plane’s landing gear as she came up from the subway. Pray for her as she begins the long road to recovery after 6 operations to repair her body. Pray for the young woman I comforted on the PATH train, who'd spent all night searching hospitals for her mother and sister.

CK’s Pop’s building was closed for about 10 days until it was considered “safe” and there were enough phone lines to conduct business. We still don’t know how safe the air is down there while the fires continue to burn. After his first visit to the now-sacred ground, I received this e-mail: “Just got back from Ground Zero. The horror of it cannot be described without seeing it. The destruction is massive.”

God bless the victims and the survivors. Let us not forget the sights and sounds of that day or the bravery of the rescue workers—the firemen, policemen, EMS and others—who ran into buildings about to collapse so my neighbors could come home to their children. Say a prayer for the young child who doesn’t yet realize the hatred and evil that exists in the world he’s entered.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

CK here again. The only ones who made out good that day were Autumn and Nicky because they got 2 dinners that night! TW had arranged for someone to come in and feed them. Then when Pop finally made it home, he fed them too!

This little kitteh's life would have been very different had that second plane zigged when it should have zagged. For one, TW would probably still be living in "The House" with Willie bin Willie. He'd keep making promises he'd never keep so she'd be miserable even if she didn't realize it. When Nicky and Autumn went OTRB, they'd have taken in a stray kitteh from the yard, rather than go to the shelter. I'd still be living in the shelter or I'd be with a family, who wouldn't tweet or blog for me. I might not get Luna Tuna or play time. They might've returned me because of my feral streak. I don't know. I'm just thankful that my Pop was safe and lived to give me a wonderful home. As you all know, I am a Daddy's girl.

Last night, I played a tribute in music to the heroes and victims of that September morning. These songs are one the widget on the sidebar. I hope you listen, enjoy and reflect.

I ax you to take a look at the movie that follows about the September 11 Memorial and Museum. Somewhere, there's a stone with our names on it because Pop sent them green papers. This movie is all about hope and new beginnings.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Thanks so much for sharing that story. It makes me shake just thinking about it. I wasn't around then, but my Dad and Mom sure were, and they will never forget that day.

  2. Thank you for sharing your family's story and reminding us of all the personal losses and also of the fortunate ones who now, as your dad said, can now cherish the extra time they've been given and the people they knew then and know now.

  3. Out here in Los Angeles, many don't really grasp the meaning of 911. But my human, an L.A. native, considered New York her adopted home town and she has always felt more comfortable in Manhattan than she does here. She spent some awesome times at the World Trade Center in the late 1980s when the CMJ convention - a yearly alternative music festival - used to be held there. So 911 was a very personal and awful event for her. We probably won't post on Sunday because she still gets too upset.

  4. Thanks to TW and your pops for sharing their stories. My dad is a native New Yorker and is so very familiar with what was the World Trade Center. Mom remembers her first trip to Manhattan and dad taking her for drinks at Windows on the World and watching the small planes actually flying below them! Dad still thinks NYC is the best place in the world and there is no place like it. Love to you and your family and peace for all the victims and their families.

  5. YOu were wonderful last night at the pawty Cathy Keisha and reading your dad's story and your mom's words too as well as your own brought the entire thing back to me all over again.

    I will never EVER forget that day..the both plane crashes I saw while watching Good Morning America on a day off of work. And then, all that followed. I stayed glued to the television the entire time I was off work..4 days and nights. I am just as horrified today as I was then. I realised the terrible import of what I saw..of what had happened. And the hatred and vileness that were poured over an an innocent people.

  6. Thank you for sharing your family`s story.
    I wasn´t born then , but mom say´s that she will never forget when she and dad and dad´s grandma watched the news on TV here in Sweden.
    Mom say´s that she first thought it was a movie and not for real.
    She didn´t want to realize that it was for real that 2 planes had crashed into the twin towers.
    Mom and I have watched the video in your post and we think that the september 11 memorial is very beutiful.

  7. I live in Brazil, it's really far from NY but I still remember that day and I'll always do. Your strory is very touching. I enjoyed the video and hope someday I can visit NY and the Memorial and Museum.
    Thanks for sharing the story and adopt CK and write the blog !

  8. Excellent post CK and I"m so happy you repeated the story. I wrote a small post which will appear tomorrow and I've put the link to your bloggy with the recommendation people come over to read it.

  9. i remember reading this last year and complimenting how your father writes so well (just like you)

    I am glad you re-posted this this year.

    9/11 was a horrific event for everyone but I think those of you who live in New York can describe emotions, etc better than any of us.

    I also have ties to NY. I was born on Long Island and I still have family in New York.

    thank you again for sharing...

  10. What a beautiful tribute all those affected by the events of that day! We will most definitely never forget.

  11. The Human read your pawrents stories and was horrified to hear how close they were to what happened. She was here in San Francisco and just seeing it on TV was plenty horrifying enough.

    The Human is a high school teacher/administrator, and it seems so weird to her that an event so recent and fresh in her memory has almost disappeared from her students' memories. The freshmen were only three or four years old when it happened and really don't remember anything about it. The older kids were six or seven but have only very vague impressions/memories. Soon her students will not remember it at all.

  12. We hopped ofur from Mario's Mewsings to read your Pop's story. It gave mommy goosebumps. Thanks fur sharing it with us. Purrs and pawsitive thoughts.

  13. I also hopped over from Mario. Thanks for sharing this account. I am also glad you found the home you did.

  14. You haz us all in tearz CK. Herz rememberz that day an will nevar fergits

  15. I am really overwhelmed by your Pop's story. I was so terrified by watching the attack on TV. But it must have been unimaginable shock to see by his own eyes. I'm glad he was ok and thank you for sharing the story.

  16. Thanks for sharing your Pop's story with us. We saw what happened on TV, but we can never imagine what it must have felt like living through it. We remember and honor all the innocent people that lost their lives that day.

  17. This is as chilling to read today as it was to see ten years ago on TV; Thank you for sharing.

  18. CK, thank you for sharing your Pop's story. That is quite something. We are so glad that he ended up being ok and that you found your home with him and TW. Keeping everyone in our thoughts today.

  19. Thank you for sharing your Pop's story. We will never forget.

  20. Amazing story. What a terrible day.
    Mom says she is glad that our dad came home that day. He was at the Pentagon and left five minutes before the bus stop was destroyed.... that bus is usually late.

    bonks and love

  21. Your humans have amazing stories from 9/11, and although it makes Mom's stomach clench to read, it is important to remember the details of what happened. I am sorry your Pop was so very close and has to remember so vividly, but very glad he was safe. It is amazing how far he had to walk and how long it took to get home. It is so sad not only about thos who died, but the others who were hurt and had long rads to recovery. Thanks for visiting my blog today, CK. Blessings to all your family.

  22. That is a very nice post and it is interesting to hear about someone so close to the disaster. Thanks for telling us and for the video. Take care.

  23. Thanks for sharing your story

    God bless you


  24. NO one will ignore YOU way, no how.(re: your comment to me today)

  25. We are speechless, CK. Thank you for sharing your Pop's story. It's hard to read without our eyes filling with tears and our hearts aching. We pray for those who lost so much that day. Those who lost their lives and those who were left behind. We are so happy your family was safe. It all can change in an instant.
    Katie & Glogirly

  26. That is such a vivid account. My goodness. Thank your Pop and TW for sharing that! And thanks for your insightful feedback on my blog as well.


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