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Never Forgotten Always Remembered 9.11.01

Hola kitties! A few weeks ago while the peeps were walking to the supermarket, they came upon a couple of people talking in the senior building parking lot. They were discussing their memories of watching the horror of September 11, 2001 on tv from their homes. Seventeen years later, it's still on everyone's mind in this area. No one has forgotten and how can they?

Never Forgotten Always Remembered 9.11.01

Pop looked at TW and said "I was there. I watched it in person; not on tv." Yes, Pop was close enough that he was accepted into the 9/11 Health Program in which they monitor the health of first responders and the "survivors" who lived and worked downtown. TW watched from the window of her office in midtown as the towers collapsed and will forever remember the screams of anguish of her coworkers with friends and loved ones working in the World Trade Center. It wasn't until she saw the first tower fall that she realized Pop might be in danger.

This year I'm going to share some appropriate music after I share Pop and his co-workers stories. Feel free to listen while reading cos it's a LONG post and I thank those who read all of it whether for the first or fourth time. By request, and for my new readers, I've shared these first-hand recollections yearly.

Pop first posted the following on his FB page and it first appeared on this blog in 2010.

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.

Never Forgotten Always Remembered 9.11.01
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.

Never Forgotten Always Remembered 9.11.01

In 2013, I got permission to share the story of one of his coworkers. After they descended from the building, Pop and his group 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 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.

Never Forgotten Always Remembered 9.11.01
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.

Never Forgotten Always Remembered 9.11.01
This photo was taken from the building Pop worked in and was the image
Pop and Uncle Robert saw from the window right before the plane went into
the building. Photo by Will Nuñez.

I'm sharing these songs as part of the Music Moves Me blog hop hosted by Curious as a Cathy and a chorus of others. August's honorary conductor is host Cathy, although I'm not sharing songs about the theme she picked. I'm sharing songs now associated with 9/11/01. Two just happen to be written by New York's own Simon and Garfunkel.

The first is a haunting version of "The Sounds of Silence" performed by Disturbed and featuring images of that day. Every year it seems to get harder to look at those images.

The second was a tribute on Saturday Night Live with Paul Simon performing "The Boxer" surrounded by the heroes of that day and the schmuck who, along with Christie Todd Whitman, told everyone the air was safe to breathe when it wasn't. This isn't on YouTube so you'll have to watch it on the NBC link by clicking the link I provided.

I've shared this song by Enya on one of my previous 9/11 tributes.

Virtually every song on Bruce Springsteen's CD The Rising is about 9/11 and tells the stories of the heroes who went up those stairs and the many who didn't make it back down. The nightmare continues. We're not exaggerating when we say at least once a week, we read articles in the paper about another first responder succumbing to one 9/11-related cancer or another. You can hear the entire CD by going to the above link on YouTube. Curious as a Cathy nominated me for the song lyric challenge. You can read the lyrics to "The Rising."

Never Forgotten Always Remembered 9.11.01

Pop has yet to go for his first evaluation from the 9/11 Health Program but is urging anyone who lived or worked downtown from September 11 to June 2002 to register. We're hoping that he's healthy although we know he suffers from an incredible fear of planes since that day. A recent trip took the peeps past Newark Liberty Airport and the fear that gripped him was visible.

Kiss your loved ones before you leave for work and say a purrayer that we never again see an act of war on American soil again.

Never Forgotten Always Remembered 9.11.01

Would you like to comment?

  1. Every year when my human reads your male human's post, memories of seeing the attack on the internetn, and then on TV, come rushing over her. It was a scary and horrific day for her too, even though she was all the way over on the other coast. New York at the time was like a second home to her and she still knows many, many good friends who live there, and who were there on that day. She says that that day made her a more compassionate person, even though it broke her heart into a million pieces.

  2. Oh my what a horror to see in person! That is a day the world will remember forever. For us, it was so distant but earth shaking. It's still so hard to believe that anyone can hate so much they will kill thousands. Our history is filled with murderers but this is history while we're living not some moldy old book.


  3. The Dad and Mom so remember and each year read Pop's account out loud to us so that we can remember too.

  4. *bows head in remembrance* Thank you for sharing this CK-knowing your Pop was right there and thankfully came home to his family is a blessing. May we always remember all who lost their lives that day, and all who struggle from the aftermath of that day. #NeverForget #911Anniversary

  5. Cathy,

    I cried that day watching the horror unfold before my eyes on TV. I couldn't even imagine what it was like for those of you who saw this madness unraveling right before you. Your post brought tears to my eyes. None of us will be the same and you know what, I hope we aren't because if we let our guard down for a second this could repeat itself. The cities and names might change but the terror will be every bit as awful and sad and unnecessary. Evil needs to be crushed like a bug. We need to protect ourselves as a nation and a people. My prayers continue to go out to all families affected directly by this tragedy. My cousin lost her daughter at the Pentagon that day and while I do not my cousin except by name I felt an overwhelming grief for her, as I did for everyone on that day. I under the fears from day crippling those like your pop and mom because I suffered somewhat with the same but I'm sure mine were nowhere near the magnitude as theirs. I appreciate you sharing so much these stories and your remembrance of that day. If you're an American you shouldn't want to ever forget no matter how painful and scary it is. Have a blessed afternoon and God bless everyone!

  6. I was at an early morning newsletter workshop, in the company's TV station. As soon as the news broke, our class fizzled out, and we watched live TV until dismissed around noon. As I live near an Air National Guard Base, the silence of the skies affected me more than I would have guessed. My father was alive back then too, and we didn't know he had lung cancer yet.

  7. Please send our love to your Pop and love to all of you.......your 9/11 tributes are among my favorites, that being sad, I wish that day had never happened xoxo

  8. Today as every year I have read every word of your Pop's and friend's recount of that dreadful day. Today as always I read it with tears for those who died, their families and friends, and those like your Pop who witnessed the horror and have to live with nightmare of it.
    I hope that when your Pop goes for his health evaluation that he gets good results. Love to you all.
    The choice of songs is very fitting.

  9. I will always remember too. I went home and cried that night.

  10. Your post on this day never fails to give me chills, and the music you chose is the purrfect accompaniment. I pray your Pops' health is never harmed by his proximity to the tragedy.

  11. Your posts on 9/11 are always my favorite. You have talent in letting those of us miles and miles away from the event understand the devastation [as much as someone not there can anyway]. I wish I could ease your pain - give you back your faith in flying. We love you and CK and you aren't alone.

  12. I can't even imagine how scary that was for your folks. I am glad they were both safe. I love the Disturbed song, I never paid attention to the video until now. XO

  13. We read this every year. What a terrible day that was, and I am very glad TW and Pop found their way through it. XOXOXO

  14. P.S. The Human's friend had a little baby boy today. A bit of joy on such a sad anniversary.

  15. We read Pop's account of 9/11 every year, and it is just as meaningful and powerful every single time. We will never forget.

  16. Sending love across the pond from Great Britain to the USA. What a terrible day it was.
    That's Purrfect
    Around My Kitchen Table

    1. I have this story before but it gets me every time. We were far away here in Chicago, but I can still remember it is so vividly.

      And p.s.: We are going to have an update on Friday or Monday (if my assistant doesn't get her act together). Teddy and I get along very well. Rosie is still not being so nice, but will at least eat next to Teddy. Though once the food is gone, watch out. We are taking things slow.

  17. Your 9-11 posts always make it come alive for me. I had a bad car accident a few days previous and received quite a head injury. I don't remember 9-11 (or much for the 2 years). Thanks for sharing your experiences.
    Love Barb

  18. Watching all the way from California...I can't even imagine what that day was like for everyone over there. It's still so sad to think about.

  19. Thank you for posting this every year.

  20. Thank you for your important post. We will always remember.

  21. Bowing my head in remembrance. My childhood best friend (I am convinced) died on September 17, 2015 from non small cell lung cancer caused by exposure to 9/11 dust- the dust plume had passed directly over her neighborhood in Brooklyn and it took her months to clean the dust out of her house. Her husband, who worked near the WTC, was an eyewitness and walked all the way home to their house from his job with a co-worker (who he then drove home to her home in Queens) so covered by dust that my friend didn't even recognize him. For hours she didn't know if he was dead or alive. One of my co workers lost his son. People I know lost neighbors, friends. One of the firemen who died that day went to my high school. I will keep your Pop in my prayers. Many people do not realize the suffering and health issues still outstanding. Alana


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