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It was 20 Years Ago Today. Never Forget

Hola kitties! You can see it on my face. I have the sadz every year on this date. Has it been 20 years already—11 since I first posted these first-hand accounts—since the senseless acts of terror on September 11, 2001? These events that happened before most of us kitties were born are so important that we have to keep alive the memory of that day; of those heroic first responders who gave all and the office workers who never returned to their loved ones. This is something humans—especially American humans—need to remember.

I concentrate on the World Trade Center but we can't forget those who lost their lives at the Pentagon and aboard Flight 83 which crashed in Shanksville, PA. We decided not to make this post image heavy cos it's the words that should stand out. This is a day that might have changed MY history as well. Along with Pop's recollections I'm also privileged to share another eyewitness account written by one of Pop's co-workers and friends. I apologize for the length of this post. Take it away Pop!

Pop's story

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 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 fireman—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. 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.

How did this affect The Cat? 

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.


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. If you're reading it again, thank you for caring.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Such a traumatic day, such a very sad day. We remember, but how could anyone not who saw those things happen, let alone live through it. Our hearts go out for all those that were lost, and all those that remain and struggle to build anew.

  2. We read this every year and it always brings tears to our eyes.

  3. Pop's story still gives us chills to this day. We will always remember, always, always, always.

  4. I live so far away from it and was so scared, I can't even imagine the fear your folks felt. Such a sad day that will never be forgotten. XO

  5. Our Dad was on the computer and his wife called him to the TV. They watched the whole thing unfold in horror. He had his accident the year before and was so mad as he as a ED RN and wanted to go help those in need... until hear learned the terrible truth, there were so few. It was a day where all the silly things we worry about were erased and we all were together. Thank You so much for the remembrance of how it was. We must Never Forget!

    1. Aunt Pauline's brother is a PE and he used his ID to get into the city but there was no one to treat.

  6. These stories are so powerful every year. I love how you told how it affected you too, CK! How sad that the same people who did this to us are large and in charge once again.

  7. Pops' story is so moving, powerful, and sobering, all at once. No matter how many times we read it. We will never, ever forget.

  8. I always love reading your male human's story, CK. Today was a sad anniversary for my human, moreso than usual.

  9. I'm speechless. Thank you for sharing and ensuring we'll remember that day for the rest of our lives (I would've anyway - but not with the same emotional complexity).

  10. The stories were new to me, though the horror and forever sadness of the day is not. I am thankful for all who survived, my heart hurts for those who did not and those who loved them. We cannot allow ourselves to forget the impact of this on our most basic humanity.

  11. Mom is the daughter of a Fireman so she found it interesting Pop is the grandson of a fireman. Thanks for sharing these stories CK. So very many people lost their lives and so many first responders (including service dogs) suffered health issues due to this terrible event. We think about all of them and their families.

  12. This is the first time I've seen your post, and it's chilling. I'm so glad your Pop made it through that horrible day, CK, and so sad for all who didn't. We won't forget; and I did see posts from many who have not forgotten. Although we live far from New York City, my husband woke me that morning saying, "We're being attacked."

  13. The world changed 20 years ago, and we continue to mourn the senseless deaths, and the continued struggle of those people who are fighting illness due to the toxic air and materials that they came in contact with.
    I was at a television studio that morning, and watched the live feed until we were dismissed to go home.
    Will never, ever forget.

  14. Your post by Pop is a MUST READ every single year (((hugs)))

  15. Thank you for always sharing this every year. It's important that we never forget.


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