My 9/11 Story

I don’t like to talk about myself much.  I prefer to remain in the background and just blend in.  I think the Army instilled that in me.  Keep your head down, do your job, your not special.  That’s the Army mantra for a regular Army grunt like me.  I feel as though that must change now.  It needs to change for a bunch of reasons.  The biggest reason is because I believe this country and many of its citizens have lost its way.

My story begins on September 10, 2001.  After watching the first episode of Band of Brothers on HBO I went to bed.  At the time I was working as a debt analyst for a financial database company called Thomson Financial in Newark, New Jersey and living in Hoboken, New Jersey.  I was scheduled to work in New York City the next day and attend a class at our office on Fulton Street.

I woke up late the next day, September 11, 2001, and was running about 20 minutes behind.  I didn’t get to the PATH Train station in Hoboken to go to the World Trade Center until a few minutes before American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower at 8:45 am.  I estimate that I arrived at the PATH train station 5 floors under the towers just after United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower at 9:03 am.

I could immediately tell something was wrong as we pulled in to the station. There were no people on the platform except for Port Authority Police Officers. I could see, and smell smoke, and the doors to the train didn’t open immediately when the train stopped. An announcement was made over the intercom system that there was a “police action” at the World Trade Center.  We never got out of the train.  We just went back to New Jersey to the Pavonia/Newport station.

When I first saw it I couldn’t believe.  I had no idea what happened.  I saw it first through a huge window as I was coming up the escalators.  Both towers were smoking and I could see flames.  A man standing next me told me what had happened, after I asked, and I didn’t believe him.  I could see debris falling from the towers and was horrified to be able to tell the difference between the debris and the people jumping.  I watched both the north and south towers fall from right there.  Outside the Pavonia/Newport PATH train station.  It was 11 o’clock Tuesday September 11, 2001.

After the second tower fell I decided to try and get back to my office in Newark. So I got back on the train and headed to Newark.  I was hoping some of my co-workers, that had also been headed to our Fulton St. office, would be there.  Or, at least someone had heard from them.  The first time I saw a TV was in the bar located on the first floor of the building complex I worked in.  That was the first time I saw the planes hit as it was replayed over and over.  I finally believed that guy back at Pavonia/Newport Path Train Station. 

Everyone in my office was accounted for.  So, some of us from work hopped in a car headed back to Hoboken. I think it I got back to my apartment around 3 o’clock or so.  At this point I still hadn’t spoken with any of my family.  Cell phone reception had been knocked out by the collapse of the towers and landlines were also not working.  I think it must have been around 5 o’clock that evening that I finally talked with my mom.  She had known where I was going that morning as was terrified, as you could imagine.  My roommates and I walked down to the water right after I talked with my mother.  We watched tower 7 fall from right there on the Jersey side of the Hudson.

My emotions ran the gamut for the next few weeks. I remember feeling anger, sorrow, empathy, guilt, wanting revenge and helplessness.  It was the last two that would become the driving force for me to enlist in the United States Army in September of 2003.  What I remember most is the missing person flyers taped to every bus stop, front and back, all the way down Washington Street in Hoboken.  There were so many of them. Too many to count.  I also could feel an outpouring of love and togetherness.  We talked about “Never Forget” and “United We Stand”.  There was a sense of patriotism and love of country.  We weren’t Democrats or Republics and we didn’t care about “hanging chads” anymore.  We were one nation.

But that is gone now.  We have forgotten about 9/11.  We have forgotten the lessons learned from that awful day.  We’ve lost our sense of community and togetherness.  Most of all we have lost our love for this country and we no longer give America the respect she deserves.  This is the greatest country in the world. Many of us have forgotten that detail.  I fear for our country and its future.

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