Sunday, September 11, 2016

15 Years Later. We Never Forget


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 a decade and a half have past since these terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in NYC, the Pentagon in DC and Shanksville, PA, both Pop and TW can recall the events of that terrifying day as if it was yesterday. Pop still shudders 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. It was too close for comfort for both my peeps.

TW has been to several 9/11 memorials and masses over the past 15 year. Some of today's photos were taken at last year's local memorial. She promises some day to jot down her memories which are just as fresh today as 15 years ago.


Here is Pop’s report in his own words 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????" 
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 the event 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. To add to those deaths, in the 15 years since then, over 1000 first responders have perished from 9/11 illnesses—cancers, respiratory diseases, etc. Over 5000 people have been treated for one of 70 different types of cancer from breathing in the toxic air during recovery. Pop's office building was closed for over a week until it was decontaminated after the attacks but no one really knows how safe the air was even then. Purrz and peace out.

* Some of the figures in this post were culled from an excellent article in Newsweek.


50 comments:

  1. Your Pop's memories never fail to bring a chill. I do hope TW writes down her story one day too. We all should, even those of us who don't have as personal of a connection as your peeps do.

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  2. My human had a personal connection to the World Trade Center itself, although she didn't know the people in those buildings that tragic day. Even for that, it was awful.

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  3. It's hard to find words strong enough to capture the gravity of the tragedy of 9/11, yet you do it here so beautifully, yet also so hauntingly. This account of yours brings the reality of it all into a better perspective for those of us farther removed from it. For that, I thank you. We will never forget this heartbreaking day in our nation's history.

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  4. Every year, this post brings tears. What a tragedy...nobody deserves this. We will never forget.

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  5. To this day this is still the most amazing post. I asked those visiting my blog to head your way CK. Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. Thank you for sending us over here, Brian. This is our first time seeing it and I'm glad we did.

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  6. Thank you for sharing this again, CK. The head peep had to look at a map to see where 1 State Street is. She was laid off from her job on Maiden Lane, across from the Federal Reserve Bank, in April of 2001, so she was in Florida on 9/11. Even from that distance, she won't ever forget, and hopefully the rest of the nation won't, either.

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  7. I will never forget the horror of watching this unfold on television, and can only imagine the horror of actually being there. No, it will never be just a news story, not to any American who remembers that day, no matter where we were.

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  8. Like that one section said, reading first accounts really does make it more personal to those of us who were on the other side of the country. I can only imagine the horror that your Pops and his co workers were feeling. Thank you for sharing this riveting piece of writing.
    Amanda

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  9. My hope is that we never forget. Thank you for sharing Pop's first hand account again, we have read it now for many of the years now since you began publishing it and it is still as relevant and strong as the first time.

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  10. Although I am not American I will never forget that fateful day or the exact words Ivor said to me as he heard on the radio about the first plane hitting the tower. Your Pop's words have chilled me each time I have read his account of that day. No-one should ever forget. (Flynn's mum)

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  11. Life has not been the same since that day... like an omen for things to come in my family... my husband being falsely accused, losing my home, losing my church and so called friends... my family is still recovering with little support no real home life and my mother's health is now deteriorating and no funds to support her... yet we have 20 furs to feeds no homes for 16 of them either.

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  12. Pop's recollections of that terrible day never fail to bring a chill. We, too, will never forget. Never.

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  13. CK we've read your Pop's story before and it gives Mom and I chills every time - the personal "up close" accounts are particularly moving. We hope and pray that something like this never, ever happens again anywhere. I think a little bit of something inside us all died that day along with all the casualties......innocence? Trust? Feeling safe? Not sure, but my Mom says "life goes on even as we honor those who were lost".......thanks for sharing the stories with us again. We will always remember - there's just no way to FORGET.

    Love, Sammy

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  14. This must have been very frightened and horrible to be so near to the attack. Granny was in shock when she saw the second plane during the news of the first one, flying through the building, and we live miles away from it. We are on guard ever since. Thanks for sharing this heartbreaking story with us. Soft Pawkisses <3 <3 <3

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  15. You did an excellent job with this post. I am glad your folks survived, I can't even imagine how scary this was for them. I had no idea how many first responders have passed away because of the attacks as well as all the cancers diagnosed.

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  16. This is the first time I have read this and I'm speechless. I never thought about those working in nearby buildings who would have watched the planes hit the towers. Sending to peace to all ...

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  17. your 9/11 post, was, and ALWAYS WILL BE my favorite. I just wish the events never took place .....
    xoxoxo catchatwithcarenandcody

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  18. Thanks for the beautiful post!
    Have a wonderful Sunday...

    Noodle and crew

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  19. Everytime I read your Pop's words about 9-11 I get chills.
    Thanks so much for sharing, We should never forget.
    Ciao
    Barb (and Nellie)

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  20. We can't even imagine what it must have been like there in the city that day. Thanks for sharing Pop's story with us again.

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  21. Hugs CK!. I'm so thankful you and your family survived. It was a nightmare to even watch on TV in central US. I can't even imagine what it must have felt like to be there. I'm also thankful that you publish this each year. Oh we in the central US would still remember, but it really brings it home when we hear first accounts as to what actually happened and what it felt like. M said I should forward this to my sisfur and SIL so they can read this too. Pop did an awesome job of writing it and M had leaky eyes reading it. HUGS from M D and me - Mariodacat

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  22. We always get chills when we read your 9/11 posts. We will always remember.

    The Florida Furkids

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  23. We reread this every year and will continue to do so as long as you continue to post it, C.K. Mom says that just watching this horrid act of terrorism unfold in real time on TV from the moment of the first plane hitting was devastating. She cannot even grasp being there. We will always remember and pray for all those affected by the events of 09/11/01. XOCK, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

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  24. CK, your Pops description of that day makes for chilling reading! The results of that day and those terrible acts of hatred are still reverberating throughout the world, which we know has changed forever. xx

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  25. We've been reading Pop's account of that tragic day for many years now and it still gives us chills. Thank you for honoring those that lost so much, so eloquently.

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  26. This is my first time reading your Pop's account of 9/11. I can't even begin to imagine what it must've been like for people in the NY area. Being on the West Coast, I still have that day forever in my memory and always will. I think everyone will remember what they were doing or where they were when this tragedy happened that forever changed the world. Thank you for continuing to share his story. We will always remember.

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  27. Gorgeous art along with a beautiful tribute to those lost. For those of us who didn't know anyone personally who was affected, it's easier to stick with the less personal aspects of the story just to cope. But this bring it home. Thank you for sharing it.

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  28. My Mom L's favorite niece was about 5 or so blocks away. Taking refuge in the basement of her building. Very old building. They had no idea what had happened. In the end MZ Liz walked back to her apartment for 90+ blocks, not knowing what had happened until she could get home. And then only from receiving phone calls telling her. We won't ever forget either CK. Never #WLF hats off

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  29. *wiping eyes* This hurts my heart.

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  30. I am not American, I am Canadian, but this was a day I will never forget. The images I viewed were horrific and they are forever in my mind.

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  31. His account is chilling. I wasn't in the US when it happened but I remember being horrified at all of the losses and destruction and mayhem.

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  32. The image of the box of paper falling was haunting. This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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  33. We will never forget... that first image in stunning.

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  34. The memories of 9/11 will forever be a part of who I am. The vividness of those memories have never seemed to wane. Thank you for sharing your memories of the day and your experiences since then.

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  35. We didn't known your pop was right there, CK. How scary. Mommy lived in the Bronx at thst time, far away from it all but close enough to be terrified. We're sending Pop and TW purrs.

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  36. We will never forget! I remember waking up to go to school that morning and my mom turning on the tv in my room. At the time, we had a little min pin and she was cuddled up to me in bed as we watched everything unfold. Still remember it like it was yesterday

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  37. What a wonderful tribute. The images are breathtaking.

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  38. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. The pictures are amazing. It's such a sobering day.

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  39. Thank you for sharing these personal accounts of this terrible tragedy.

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  40. This is the first I am reading your story...and I am in tears. Thank you for sharing. We will never forget - and will always remember this tragic day. My cousin had worked for years in a bank in the Twin Towers, but left there so thankfully, she was not there. Her brother-in-law, a firefighter and first responder, sadly was lost that day along with so many others. My husband, a NYS Trooper, was there for weeks afterward to assist where needed. It is so important for stories like this to be repeated so our youth and generations to come will never, ever forget that horrific day our America was attacked - 9/11.

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  41. Wow! Thank you for recording this for us. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was unaware of the statistics regarding the first responders' deaths and health problems. They are truly heroes.

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  42. We read this post each year you post it and it's still just as powerful!

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  43. I am an Indian but till today i haven't forgotten this horrible day where innocent lives were lost due to an act of terrorism

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  44. Thanks for sharing. I still remember exactly where I was on that day, I heard the news upon waking up in Australia. At work, we were all glued to the TV as events unfolded. It's important we continue to remember the heroes, those who lost their live and their families.

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  45. Thank you for sharing this very powerful post, your personal account. I was on my way to work, somehow I was late that morning & mad at myself for being late. I was taking the LIRR to Penn Station and was to take the Path train, underneath the WTC. I'm grateful I was late, otherwise around 9am I would have been underneath the WTC to get the Path train. I was on the LIRR right outside the Midtown Tunnel when cell phones started going off. I too thought the first plane must have been a small private plane & like an idiot I thought the second plane somehow went in to "help" the first plane. Even in Penn station I didn't understand what was happening - people were milling around & none of the pay phones worked when I tried to call my boss. Suddenly I heard the word "terrorism". A lightbulb went off in my head and I ran back to catch a train waiting to go to my town. It was one of the last trains out before they shut down transit. I'm grateful I was late that day and not caught down there. I'll always be wary of what might happen next, where & when. I'm grateful for all the responders and so saddened that many of these heroes have suffered terrible illnesses - it adds such insult to injury, it's so wrong and so unfair. God bless everyone who was lost and otherwise tragically injured and impacted by the event. I will certainly never forget. I couldn't even if I tried.

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  46. Such a heart breaking story. I am on the other side of the US and remember that day like it was yesterday. My neighbor had a son who lived there and she was in panic.

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