I’d like to say something that would help, but this has left so many of us speechless. No
one person is eloquent enough to wrap words around it, you only sense the enormity
when you listen to everyone at once:
September 11, 2001
“New York is crying,” police Officer Tyrone Dux said, unable to contain his own tears
after surveying the smoldering rubble that was once the World Trade Center.
“I don’t know what to do,” a weeping Alan Rivera said as he stood behind
barricades, hoping for word about his niece, who worked in the Trade Center. “I
can’t get through to her on the phone. … No one can tell me anything.”
“We want to tell the American children that Afghanistan feels your pain. We hope
the courts find justice,” ambassador Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef said in a
statement in Pakistan after America was hit by a series of attacks that have been
called the worst since Pearl Harbor.
3:55 p.m. People were pinballing down the halls of my office. Who’s here, who’s
missing? Gabe was there, his train came in there, but he called, he’s okay. And then
there were people screaming from the TV-equipped conference room that the first of the
buildings had collapsed and everyone not already at the conference room end of
the hall went running into the crowd of red eyes and loose jaws and then we all watched
the second one just… go.
I stopped in a Times Square store to pick up a few things and the checkout girl
couldn’t say anything as she rang me up — opened her mouth a few times, but
nothing came out. She put my change back down on the counter and left her hand
lying there. I felt almost like I ought to squeeze it.
4:37 p.m. one of my coworker’s husband was at the base of the WTC when the first blast
happened. he said there were burning bodies flying out of the sky.
10:46 p.m. my friends and i were eating pasta glued to the t.v. set at their
apartment in times square, one of whom was my friend cherie who was in the
WTC at the time of the blasts. she still had concrete bits in her hair, which she
was picking out one by one.
James McGowan, who recently started his job at the NYSE, was outside getting coffee
when the second plane it. “When the first one hit,” he said, “we all thought, ‘Oh so the
building’ll be on fire.’ It was sad, but you know what they say about New Yorkers working
through anything. When the second one hit, I thought, ‘Shit, this is serious.’ I realized I
had some paperwork in my hand, so I went back to the office and thought, ‘I’m putting
this down and getting the hell out of here.’ I left the building, not paying attention to what
any of my co-workers were doing, and started walking. A few minutes later, I heard
something (the first building collapsing). I turned around, and 3 blocks back was a tidal
wave of smoke coming right at me. Everyone on the street started running. I saw women
fall down, screaming, and people were going around them. People running beside me
had their faces cut to ribbons. It was like a fucking movie.”
From Andy’s Chest:
10:48 a.m. I walked all the way back from downtown. I don’t know how I can
type this. it was absolutely indescribable. I was watching, we were watching the
first WTC building, watching the people fall and the flames burn when I saw a
plane, a passenger size plane, come out of the sky, arc around and crash
DIRECTLY into the other tower!! It left a huge hole and smoke and flames.
People in the office were shouting and crying. Someone yelled GET OUT and we
all walked the stairs down to the ground. The streets were crazy. People
wandering around, dazed, crying, freaked out.
We gathered on Park Row on the East side of City Hall to watch the towers.
People were in shock. After a while of speculating and staring, we saw one of the
towers collapse heard the boom and a HUGE HUGE HUGE ball of smoke
billowed out. People started running away. People were almost trampled as the
police tried to wrangle people out of the area. I walked and walked and everybody
just kept walking. the streets are filled with dazed people. It’s insane. Horrible.
Unthinkable. Then as I was walking, finally I stopped and turned around on
Mercer near the Angelika and we saw the other Tower go.
I don’t know what to say. I really don’t. this is beyond description. beyond words.
3:42 p.m. So, its later this afternoon. We’ve been watching the coverage all morning and
afternoon. Phone calling friends. Touching base. Trying to make sure everyone’s okay,
letting everyone know that I’m okay. Its been an exhausting, emotional day.
I think I’m still in shock.
I can’t get the pictures out of my mind: watching people leap to their deaths, choosing
between being immolated alive or crushed by falling. I saw one woman, and I know it’s
impossible, but I could have sworn I heard her scream. Its something you can’t imagine. I
never thought I could imagine.
Everytime I see that footage of that plane hitting the second tower, I twitch.
The thing is that as we looked out the windows of the office, trying to comprehend how a
plane could possibly run into the World Trade Center, we just thought it was a horrible,
horrible accident. But watching that other plane come in defied belief. And then it just
crashed right in.
From East West:
10:48 a.m. the sirens just don’t stop. this is the first time i’ve ever looked in the sky and
not seen a plane in the sky around manhattan.
10:54 a.m. i’ve got all my cash in one pocket, my credit cards in the other, i’m wearing
lightweight cotton clothing for fire safety, and i’m putting my passport in my back right
it’s strange how these instincts take over in crisis. i’m debating whether or not to try to
take all of my money out of the corner ATM. well, whatever money i have in there. okay,
i’m rambling because i’m scared.
9:48 a.m. I heard some guy on the street telling a cop that he just saw a plane hit the
World Trade Center. He didn’t look like a crank, but the cops seemed as dumbfounded as
I was confused about why they were listening to him. Until I looked up and saw the cloud
of smoke in the sky. I went up to my office on the 20th floor of a midtown office
building, where I could see the smoking top of the WTC through the window, while a TV
showed a replay of the second plane colliding with one of the towers. They’ve shut down
all the airport, bridges, tunnels, and downtown subways while they wait to see if the
damage is done for now, or if the city is actually under attack by terrorists.
But I’m OK, in case you’re worrying, Mom.
11:40 a.m. Pearl Harbor, Kennedy’s assassination, the Challenger explosion, and now
this. Another generation is going to have their first memory of exactly where they were
and what they were doing when the shit hit the fan.
3:15 p.m. The site of the Towers from the street and from work was fiction, surrealism,
completely impossible to really accept. If you’ve ever been to New York, you know that
you can see the Towers from all over the place. They’re like a pair of compass needles for
the whole city. My whole trip back to Brooklyn was punctuated by hundreds of views of
the smoke rising from the rubble where I’d otherwise be seeing the Towers themselves.
Midtown was completely insane. From the office, I could see people swarming all over
the streets, and people standing on the roofs of every building around, staring fixedly at
the plume. Down on the street, it was mayhem. People were rushing everywhere,
generally north. Tempers were flaring in the panic ï¿½ especially in the fights over cabs.
Paranoia was out of control. I passed an SUV on 3rd Avenue whose engine caught fire,
and people were just flipping out when they saw the smoke. Every time an F16 flew
overhead, every head around looked up ï¿½ everyone is afraid of planes today. I joined a
throng of people heading to the Queens-Midtown Tunnel after seeing cardboard signs go
up saying the tunnel was open and every car around was taking people out of Manhattan.
It really was an effective evacuation of the area. I caught a cab with a few other people,
then walked home from Long Island City ï¿½ a long, hot, weird journey filled with other
refugees from a day that started out like any other.
I can’t turn away from the news. The jingoism is driving me crazy. This is an attack
against US, for God’s sake, not democracy itself. Can the rhetoric, because no one’s good
enough to get it right. I actually prefer watching Adolph Guiliani and Governor Pataki
talk about it, because they’re shying away from the “threat to American ideals” bit (for the
most part) and concentrating on the massive, massive rescue effort that is underway to
control the chaos and the disaster in lower Manhattan.
When the dust settles (literally), I just know that Shrub is gonna do something stupid.
Yes, we’re going to have to do something, but he’s not the person I want to call the shots
right now. Even worse, he might come out of this as some kind of hero, just because he’s
in office right now. Whatever peope are able to do to handle the situation, he’ll be able to
claim credit for his leadership. Man, I bet they couldn’t get Colin Powell on the phone
fast enough this morning.
Clemant Lewin, a banker who works across street from the World Trade Center towers,
said that after the initial explosion, he looked out the window and saw people jumping
from the building from as high as the 80th floor, including a man and a woman holding
hands as they fell.
Robert James, 43, manager of a Modell’s sports store near the Trade Center, was in the
basement when he heard the explosion, then emerged to see at least five bodies fall from
the skyscraper. He was nearby for the 1993 Trade Center bombing, James said, adding, “I
don’t think I’ll work down here anymore.”
12:01 p.m. I just went out to vote. Today is the mayoral primary in New York City and,
despite all that’s happened this morning — maybe even because of all that’s happened — I
wanted to try and vote.
From Toothpick Girl:
9:39 a.m. Oh this is awful. The air smells like burnt flesh. There is shit flying and a layer
of debris on the ground. You can hear the jets flying over the city. Just incredible.
App one of the towers collapsed, there is so much smoke and debris is falling like snow.
There are papers on the roof. Pages from a Japanese book of some sort. Only one
television station is coming in at all. It’s insane.
Last night, I spoke to a friend who lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She noted
how when she looks around her neighborhood, there were so many apartments with no
lights on. She wondered if the people who lived there would ever come home.
Lynn and my Niece Liz’s husband, Jeremy Glick was on United flight 93 this morning.
When the Hijackers took control of flight 93. Jeremy called my niece who in-turn
conferenced him to 911. Jeremy relayed to the police what was happening as the
hijacking unfolded. As our niece Liz listened, Jeremy told the police there were three
Arab terrorists with knives and a large red box that they claimed contained a bomb.
Jeremy tracked the second by second details and relayed them to the police by phone.
After several minutes of describing the scene, Jeremy and several other passengers
decided there was nothing to lose by rushing the hijackers. Although United Flight 93
crashed outside of Pittsburgh, with the loss of all souls. Jeremy and the other patriotic
heroes saved the lives of many people on the ground that would have died if the Arab
terrorists had been able to complete their heinous mission.
From Saran Warp:
after the second plane ran into the building (excuse me, could someone rewind that?) and
the building burned for a while, i went back downstairs for a cup of coffee. people were
loudly sobbing on my roof. everyone screamed when it happened. you could hear 11
stories of screams and OH MY GODS from the roof and the stairwells…
i feel nothing, except fear and gratitude that none of my family live here. i am sort of
numb to the rest of it, isolated in brooklyn, and trained by american action films to take
things like planes flying into buildings, mass explosions, and the destruction of major
buildings for granted.
11:31 p.m. Reports are coming in that survivors trapped in the rubble are using their cell
phones to call for help… How anyone could have survived that is beyond me. Are New
Yorkers tough or what?
September 12, 2001
I was doing better today, until a short while ago when I was at a cafe for breakfast. As I
stood in line, someone (very loudly and in a very accusing tone) asked: “Are you from
Afghanistan??” All eyes turned upon me, burning, each one accompanied with
accusatory frowns. Needless to say, I very sheepishly said: “I am not from
Afghanistan.”, then I quietly left … with an empty stomach and almost crying.
I felt so small and I now feel so unsafe and uncomfortable.
11:13 a.m. It’s fascinating to get first-hand accounts of how people abroad are reacting.
Mark has been either shell shocked or weepy over in Italy, and people there have been
coming up and just giving him hugs when they realize he’s American.
This is a city where people generally go out of their way to avoid contact with other
people. Not today. People in the elevator asked if all of my friends had been accounted
for, told me their friends’ narrow escapes. Walking Dex this morning, I passed people I
pass almost every morning, plus a few strangers. We met each other’s eyes as we passed
and exchanged a terse, but kind, smile. Those of us that knew each other on sight but
had maybe never spoken much or at all asked how the other was doing. “Do you need
anything?” I thought I’d stop crying today, but I haven’t.
11:47 a.m. …Some restaurants are open, some are closed with hastily made signs. One that I passed said
“Eatery is closed today. God Bless America.”…