Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Patriots Day—18 Years Later

Hola kitties! Has it been 18 years already—nine since I first posted these first-hand accounts—since the senseless act of terror on September 11, 2001? An event that happened before most of us kitties were born is so important that we have to keep the memory of that day. This post is to honor all those who gave all. This is something humans—especially American humans—need to remember. I concentrate on the World Trae Center but we can't forget those who lost their lives at the Pentagon and aboard Flight 83 who crashed in Shanksville, PA.  We decided not to make this post image heavy cos it's the words that should stand out.

Patriots Day—18 Years Later

18 years and names are still being added to the wall of fallen firefighters. 22 more firefighters have died from 9/11-related illnesses this year. 18 years and the remains of two more humans who perished were identified within the past two months. 18 years ago 60,000 people were ferried to safety from lower Manhattan including my Pop to our town. 18 years and the hell is still very real to those who witnessed the events of that day and those first responders who are sick. 18 years but we remember the first responders who are fighting for their lives today and every day.

Pop posted his memories of September 11, 2001, on Facebook and we've shared it every year since 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.

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.

Patriots Day—18 Years Later
We have two local ceremonies today.

After they descended from 1 State Street, 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 with permission 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.

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.

Thanks to those who read/reread the entire long post. I hope if you're reading it for the first time you found it inneresting and it made the events of that day more real for you. TW was affected as well. She watched the towers fall from the window of her office in midtown knowing that Pop worked a few blocks from "Ground Zero." There were no working telephones and TW who was staying in the city cos a friend needed her didn't hear that Pop was safe until after 8 pm that evening.



I'll close with a powerful version of "Where the Streets Have No Name" where the names of the fallen are scrolled on the screen. Our hearts go out to those still struggling 18 years later. Never forget. Peace out. Namaste.

21 comments:

Lone Star Cats said...

Such a horrible day. I'm glad you peeps were ok and sad for so many people who weren't.

ClickNCamera said...

Being from Oklahoma, I can assure you that I haven't forgotten this horrific day in history (9/11) and the tragedy that we are still loosing first responders from that day. Just so you know you aren't alone. I can remember my thoughts when watching the cleanup of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City... "I hope we never forget what happened here and that it never happens again." Then 9/11 happen. I have family who were first responders (police and firemen) here in OK. I've been to the OKC Murrah Federal Building Memorial many times and hope one day to visit the NYC Ground Zero Memorial too. My first visit to the Murrah Building Memorial, I met a first responder and his rescue dog. They had worked the Murray Building rubble and were leaving the next day to work the towers. He was preparing himself and partner for that journey. I'll never forget!

Eastside Cats said...

We will never forget.

Sandee said...

A day I remember vividly. An excellent tribute.

Have a blessed day. ♥

jank1961 said...

Those stories bring chills and tears at the same time. Those of us who only watched in on TV can only imagine the horror of actually being there. Yet we will never forget exactly where we were when it happened.
Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

The Swiss Cats said...

An awful day. We couldn't believe what we were watching on TV, again and again, so far away. We cannot imagine how your Pop was feeling, and how TW was feeling, waiting for him to come home. Purrs

Summer at sparklecat.com said...

My human says that she doesn't think anyone who was alive and cognizant that day will ever forget it. She didn't know your human at the time, but she did have loads of friends in New York who saw the planes firsthand, and went through experiences much like you describe. One friend told her, "It smelled like death for months." I purr something like this never happens again.

Astro & Mitzie said...

Thank you for posting your story.
We wish you peace.

Astro and Mitzie
We will never forget

The Florida Furkids said...

No matter how many times we read this it brings tears to our eyes.

We will never forget.

The Florida Furkids and Mom Sharon

Brian said...

That is one of the most powerful stories from this horrible day. Although we weren't alive yet, the Mom and Dad will never forget, never ever.

Cat Chat With Caren and Cody (Caren Gittleman) said...

Please, please never stop sharing your Pop's story.....it moves me beyond words. I am also glad that you mentioned that many more people have passed in the years that have gone by from the residual effects of breathing toxic gases and more. Devastating. We will NEVER forget xoxo

Memories of Eric and Flynn said...

I read every word of your Pop's story every year, and every year it is with tears in my eyes and deep sadness in my heart. God bless all those who lost their lives and all those who are still suffering today.
We must never forget.

Athena Cat Goddess Wise Kitty said...

This was so moving. Thank you for sharing.

Mum says she remembers turning the TV on in the afternoon here in England and could not believe what she was seeing.

Purrs xx

Catscue Cat Mom said...

What an amazing story, what a horrible day. I worked for American Airlines at their headquarters, (still do), and it was just horrible. The next day when we got into work, the whole outside of the building was covered with bouquets of flowers from people just needing somewhere to display their grief. Inside the building lobby was stuffed with flowers too. Such a terrible, terrible day.

Melissa, Mudpie and Angel Truffles (Mochas, Mysteries and Meows) said...

We can never, ever forget this day.

Fr. Tom Fishworthy said...

The tragedies of this day still impact us all, as you mentioned, CK. I remember hearing about Jon Stewart's pleas to Congress about the condition of those who risked their lives and their health this day to see others to safety. They remind us that we have a responsibility to care about each other. - Tom x

The Island Cats said...

We never get tired of reading Pop’s account of that day. We will never forget.

meowmeowmans said...

Pop's memories of that day are so powerful. We will never, ever forget. <3

pilch92 said...

I am glad TW and Pops were not harmed. Such a sad day that will truly never be forgotten. My heart goes out to all those who are still suffering from cancers and breathing troubles from being there. XO

Three Chatty Cats said...

Thank you for sharing this again. I will always read it and never forget. I also watched that Boatlift doc TW shared. It moved me to tears.

The Indulged Furries said...

A moving tribute. Thank you for sharing your experience of this tragedy so we can all feel more connected to it.