Outside my morning art class, back in 5th grade, a group of teachers met to discuss the 9/11 attacks that had just transpired. Naturally, as young children we had no idea what was going on. However, when art class ended, and after we headed back to our main classroom, the teacher sat us down on the carpet and explained what had happened. My first thought was my Dad as I remembered him pointing out the beautiful view of the Twin Towers from his office window. I had the feeling he was all right, but I made a point of going to the main office to call and make sure. When I arrived, as saw many other students doing the same. He was fine. On the ten year anniversary, I am 20 years old and curious about my Dad’s experience on that fateful day.
Where were you the minutes leading up to the first plane that hit the Twin Towers?
I was working down by Harborside in Jersey City on the 24th floor of the building. My office had a perfect view of the towers but I was in an internal conference room without windows for a meeting as it was happening. During the meeting my collegues and I heard some commotion. We didn't understand what was going on until one of the secretaries came in and told use the World Trade Center had been hit. Ironically, I could have watched the whole thing unfold from by office but I was in the conference room very close by.
What'd you think had happened?
It's interesting, even though I haven’t been a New Yorker all my life, I wasn't focused on the terrorism. I didn't realize the significance of it. I thought it was a smaller plane initially but then hearing reports the magnitude of the situation. After the first, people went back to their business, not really grasping what was going on. By the time I got back to my office, the two planes had already hit.
What was the atmosphere in the office like, how were people acting?
After the second plane hit, the building was being evacuated and the whole time we had views of the Hudson and what was the World Trade Center skyline. For an hour, everyone was waiting to hear reports. As time went on we started to understand the significance. I remembered that I needed to go back into the building to get my car keys; I went in with a few coworkers, one of whom had been at the 93' World Trade Center attack. He was very emotionally attached to the situation. He understood that lives were being lost at that very second. Since we couldn't leave, we were able to watch the two buildings go down. A lawyer our company had been working with screamed as this happened because she didn't know where her husband. Fortunately, he was fine.
There wasn't a lot of panic, most people wanted to figure out how they could get home. We were concerned about other possible attacks. Instead of taking the George Washington Bridge, since we felt it wasn't safe, we went further North to take the Tappan Zee bridge.
In the following days, what did you notice about the people around you, your fellow New Yorkers?
One thing I felt immediately was that we were all in it together. Everybody was your friend during that time because you had a common enemy. No one was as guarded as usual. It was nice.