Friday, September 11, 2015

Remembering Today and Every Day


Every September 11 since I started blogging I’ve rerun this piece Pop wrote because, thankfully, I have new readers who may not have read it. Although 14 years have gone by since this terrorist attack, both Pop and TW still recall that terrifying day as if it was yesterday. Pop still flinches when a low-flying plane passes the condo and TW remembers the uncertainty of not being able to contact Pop for 12 long hours. She can still hear the anguished cries of her co-workers who had friends and loved ones working in the WTC as they watched the buildings crumble and disappear from their office window. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic; I’m just reporting the facts.

This day deeply affected many, none more than the medical community. Aunt Pauline’s brother was a physician assistant in the emergency room at Lincoln Hospital in da Bronx. Upon hearing the announcement of the attack, he realized he and every one of his coworkers who could make it there would be required to treat the flood of patients they anticipated receiving. It proved an epic trek even with his medical identification, because civilians were being blocked from most of the routes he had to use to get there, but he and many of the others persevered. Their efforts were in vain. As the story developed and the news of the Towers' fall was released, they all knew there would be no patients, that there were no survivors.

Here is Pop’s report on the horror that unfolded five blocks from his office window.

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 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 World Trade Center 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 were all wondering 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 more vivid 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 firefighter—stood transfixed by what was unfolding at that window. The sight of a box of continuous feed computer paper floating out from one of the broken windows and then slowly unraveling as it made it’s way toward the ground just amazed me. 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.

ⓃⒺⓋⒺⓇ ⒻⓄⓇⒼⒺⓉ


After they descended from the building, Pop and some of his co-workers immediately headed uptown to safety. Robert Tonchuk and his group stayed downtown to look for a working phone. These words are taken from Robert's Facebook page, with his permission and without editing although the names have been removed.

I walked up from the State Street subway and ran into D. There was glitter in the air. I said, some promotion for Mac cosmetics or D&G by an outrageous gay ad exec. D said a plane hit the tower. I looked up. Smoke only seen. The plane hit the opposite side of the building so we only saw smoke in the distance. 
Upstairs on the 27th floor, facing the towers, we watched and wondered how that could happen. F, V, K, A, M, S, MOC, all of us. L was bursting invoices and didn't know. 
Then the sound from plane 2 seen flying toward us. Those who were there know the fabulous open floor Thomson had. We saw the plane flying toward us. M on the phone...."what is that noise????" 
The plaque in Yankee Stadium.
It flew by our window … our voices silent … it tilted, we saw it's underbelly, and we
watched it fly into tower 2 and our building shook from the impact of it hitting that tower. I remember the windows shaking. 
I looked around … nobody was moving. We were frozen. I couldn't speak. I tried a few times and then yelled that we need to evacuate; V kicked open the stair doors to sound the alarm. 
I could go on, the mad rush to evacuate, pulling Y off the phone and telling her to hang up on our CEO who was in Texas. She wouldn't so I grabbed the phone and did it for her. She was mad but two months later thanked me. I remember for the first time feeling helpless. I swore never will I allow that to happen unless God makes that choice for me. 
I won't go in much detail, but we were in front of our building not sure what to do … then the booms of what sounded like bombs … it was Tower Two crashing down … the black ball of ash swooping past the Bull down the block … coming toward us … I remember V saying what is next? where do we go?? I said we cannot go back into One State Street … the buildings didn't seem a safe place to me … so we all grabbed hands and started running thru the dark as it came over us … the ash and blackness hit us, like hot snow, in our face, mouth, nose, eyelashes, but we held each other's hands refusing to let go of anyone until we saw light. I remember stopping and ripping my shirt off, and other men I think did too. We ripped them into little pieces to use as masks and filters so we could breathe thru our mouths since noses were not an option. 
We crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and realized the world changed … as did I.

I hope by reading these firsthand accounts of an event that those of us in the NY area won’t ever forget, it makes that day more personal to you rather than just a news story. By reposting this every year, I pray my readers will keep the memory of the 2,996 victims—of which 41% have yet to be identified—in their minds and hearts. I’ve leave you with a request to write, call, email your state legislators to extend the Zadroga Act which is set to expire so the first responders could continue to get the medical help they need to keep them alive. Purrz and peace out.

27 comments:

  1. We read this every year, CK and every year the horror of it all comes back (well, not to me because I was not even a kitten yet, but to the Human). She was on the other side of the continent but she remembers how scared and horrified everyone was. After they sent all the students home, another teacher and the Human came back to the Human's house around 11 a.m. and cracked open a bottle of wine and just drank and drank all afternoon and the Human barely even ever drinks. It was a surreal day. Lots of love to your Pops and TW too. XOXOXOX

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  2. You guys were in the thick of things on that day, your male human only blocks away. Wow. Purrs.

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  3. Never forget CK. We won't - and it is important Pop reflects so we remember.

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  4. I remember that day so vividly and can't even imagine living there in the city at the time. Your folks were forever changed, as was our country. We can never, ever forget what happened that day.

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  5. We never forget that horrific day, the event that took away so many precious lives and left scars on hearts of so many people. Hugs and love to you, and your Pop and TW.

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  6. I will never ever forget this day either as I was ill at home with the Shingles. I watched the entire thing live on TV. The horror the fear the tragedy should never be forgotten.I'm sure New York will never forget but it scares me to think those across the US who maybe weren't even born yet will never understand or will not find the solemn reminder of #neverforget as something to seer into their minds and hearts.

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  7. What brilliant writing. I just can't imagine - even as breathtakingly poignant as this is - the magnitude of feelings experienced by those in the city that day. So much pain. No, we mustn't ever forget.

    This summer I had the privilege of visiting the Newseum in Washington, DC. They have a temporary (on loan) 9/11 exhibit, including several artifacts recovered from the rubble, the centerpiece being a portion of an enormous metal antenna that once stood on the top of one of the towers. The twisted and charred wreck stands two-stories high. It is unfathomable that human beings would willingly inflict such destruction and death on their fellow brothers and sisters. :( So glad TW and Pop were spared the worst.

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  8. We always read this and get goose bumps CK. Please don't ever stop posting it as it is one of the best reminders of why it is important to love the ones you're with and to remember those who departed needlessly.

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  9. Re-reading this brings things into more focus - in the eyes of those who were there - who saw, heard, felt 9/11 instead of seeing it on TV from afar - it was a personal event for many and a worldwide disaster for all......yes it effected EVERYONE and that has stayed with us all whether we acknowledge it or not. Thanks for reposting CK......it's important to "see" it up close - so happy your family was OK.

    Love, Sammy

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  10. CK I am so happy you publish this every year because nothing says it as well. Thank God pop made it to safety and you and your family are able to remind us every year just what it was like". I remember so well being in my bosses office when someone ran in and said to turn the tv on in the conference room Quick! We all stood around the tv in disbelief at what we were seeing. How could this be! This is the United States of America........! Now we know it can happen anywhere and we all have to keep watch,

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  11. I am also happy that you post this every year because your post remains the BEST I have ever read in reference to the deplorable tragedy. (((hugs)))
    catchatwithcarenandcody

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  12. What a horrible memory. Even though they are Canadians....mom and dad remember that god awful day. Mom's words: Unbelievable, it felt like the world was ending. Pictures on CNN looked more like Beirut than New York City. All those families devastated. Anyone who was alive couldn't help but remember the horrific calamity
    Thank you CK and family for sharing.

    Shoko and Jean.

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  13. Ck....we apurreciate pops re telling hiz storee.....

    az it's one that shuld knot bee forgotten....we all sew noe how hard it iz for him........

    as it iz bye noe meenz....easy......in .......de re telling......

    we send hugs ♥♥♥♥♥

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  14. Yeah CK even tho' it happened in New York it was da furst time in a long time dat war had happened on U.S. soil. We read all da time 'bout how these fings happen to innocents in udder kuntwies and never fawt it wuld happen to us. Let us always member so weez never wepeat da past. Weez wend purrayers to all affected and gwatitude to all who helped to put fings back togevver again. It will never be da same, we awe all changed and we awe hopefully stwonger.

    Luv ya'

    Dezi and Lexi

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  15. I read this post last year for the first time as I didn't know you before that. My dad was working in the garage and shouted in to mum that a plane had gone into the WTC. Mum turned the TV on to see if she could find out what was happening. As she watched, the second plane hit the second building. She still says it seemed unreal and will never forget what she saw.
    We will never forget all those who perished that day, and we remember with gratitude all the heroes.
    We thank your Pop for his account of that terrible day and are very glad that he and TW were physically safe although their memories have been scarred.

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  16. That is an amazing story, CK. For those of us who were states away from the action, it was hard to comprehend what was happening. I remember that I was on my way to my Calculus II class when I heard about the first plane. I also thought that it was a small private plane and didn't understand the gravity of the situation. By the time I got home, the videos of both planes and both towers collapsing were replaying over and over on tv. I won't ever forget.
    -Purrs from your friends at www.PlayfulKitty.net

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  17. This is the most touching and terrifying account of the day I have read...thank you.

    I remember turning on the TV to watch the news and wondering what on earth I was seeing.
    I spent the day wandering around sort of here and sort of somewhere else.
    Maybe because my background is journalism I found myself writing down everything I saw knowing that everything had just changed forever.
    Every once in a while I go back and read parts of that journal I kept that day...
    and then I think of all the things I'm thankful for.
    Have a wonderful weekend...


    Noodle and crew

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  18. Being so far away our mommy finds it so surreal yet your pop was so close. We can't even imagine what it was like there. We don't understand why humans do things like that to others but we'll never forget all those lost and affected that day.

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  19. I'll never forget either and I was half a world away in Sydney at the time!

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  20. Thank you for posting these accounts. The sheer horror of that day will never leave my mom--it feels like it just happened...today.

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  21. Thanks for sharing Pop's story again with all of us. We can't imagine what it must have felt like being there and seeing the Towers fall.

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  22. We've read your Pop's story before but it always brings tears to our eyes.....such a terrible day. We will never forget.

    The Florida Furkids

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  23. Thank you for sharing these accounts, CK. We remember reading Pop's story last year, but it's always a good reminder to read it again. We can't even imagine how scary that must have been for TW and Pop.

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  24. We have read this before but as long as we can visit and read your blog, we will read it every year. Mom and dad were at the Pentagon yesterday (9/11). Watching what happened live on TV is indelibly marked on Mom's brain. She cannot even imagining experiencing it firsthand. Prayers to all the families, loved ones and friends of those who lost their lives. XOCK, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

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  25. We're so glad you posted this again - it's REALLY important to not forget, and firsthand stories DO help keep it real for everyone.

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  26. That is so awful, I had no idea that your Pops was that close to everything and that TW couldn't get in touch with him for 12 long hours- I can't even imagine.

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  27. Wow, CK.....we have been reading your blog for a while, but we have never read your Pop's story. What an incredible experience. I cannot even imagine the fear, terror, and panic that must have been going through him and the others who were witnessing all of this. We are thankful that your Pop is okay and saddened that so many lost their lives that day. I had no idea that so many remained unidentified 14 years later - how awful. :(

    Thank you for sharing these experiences. While I cannot even imagine how awful this was for everyone there, I won't forget.

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