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Looking Back 21 Years: The Day That Changed America

Hola kitties. 21 years ago was before most of us kitties were born. 2001 was a year of change for my peeps. Gramma had passed the year before and they still had to decide what to do with the houses. Nicky and Autumn were the resident cats and I was yet to be born. 

Both of the peeps had jobs in NYC which they commuted to daily. No one could have expected what happened on a clear September day—election day in New York—of that year. I'll let Pop reflect back on that September 11 as he's done each year on this blog.

Pop's Eye-witness account

Pop: OK, CK, love of my life "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."

Summing up

To some it's a blurry memory. To others something they'd just as soon forget or they just don't care. To those not yet born, it's another boring history lesson to daydream during in school. To those who watched it and those who escaped those buildings, it's a traumatic day. To those who lost loved ones and close friends, it's a sad day of mourning and grieving; missing those murdered that day which changed their lives forever.

I share this post and remember those lost at the WTC. Pentagon and in Shanksville, PA every 9/11 along with the memories of one of Pop's co-workers.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Beautiful tribute---We will never forget

  2. We will never forget. No matterhow many times we read it, Pops' first hand account brings tears to our eyes.

  3. Though heart wrenching, it is important to read the personal stories of this day, and so we thank you for yours. It is a day that remains vivid in our mind, and will not be forgotten. And we will not forget the souls lost that day ~ or the many who have been lost since as a result of injury or disease suffered from the day. There are thousands more who will forever bear the scars of lost family, lost friends and simply having been witness to this event, may they all find some solace.

  4. That is chilling, and moving. We won't forget. I remember the fear on that day. Though we live far from New York, we felt we were all under attack.

  5. It's always mind boggling to read your Pop's account. Thank you for sharing again.

  6. I'm so glad you shared that, I look forward to reading Pop's account every year. It sure hits home and we should never, ever forget.

  7. Thank you for sharing. It is bringing tears to my eyes. What a beautiful tribute.

  8. We continue to mourn those who lost their lives.
    We will never forget.

  9. Tell your Pop there are many of us out here miles away who personally knew no one who died that day, but we have not forgotten.

  10. I read your Pop's account of those terrible happenings every year, and it always brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. We flew to America very soon after and were really worried, but we were made so welcome for still coming.

  11. I can't even imagine how scared your Pop and TW were that day. XO

  12. Every year I look forward to reading the stories and remembering all over again. I live about 90 minutes from Shanksville and saw the one lone plane crossing the empty sky likely 10 minutes before it crashed into the soil there. For generations growing up between Pearl Harbor Day and 9/11 it's a reminder that we can't take our safety or freedom for granted. So glad you got to safety and can share a true life story for others to hear.

  13. 21 years later and it still seems like it happened yesterday sometimes. We will never forget.

  14. Our humans remember that day : it was so unreal, so surreal, so incredible and so terrifying that they couldn't believe for a while that it was really happening. We can't even imagine how your pop and TW felt. Purrs

  15. we will never, ever forget. I always love when you share Pop's most meaningful post xoxo


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