I took this photo on September 3, 2001 while flying over NYC.
10 years ago today, I was 21 years old and working at my first acoustical consulting job in Norwalk, CT…I had graduated from college just a few months earlier. I remember sitting at my desk at 8:40AM when my boss rolled into the office and I overheard him say, “I just heard on the radio that a plane crashed into one of the twin towers.”
Immediately, I went to CNN.com, just minutes before the site (and every other news website) crashed due to too much traffic. The photo on CNN.com showed a gash in the side of one of the towers with smoke billowing out. I remember thinking that it must have been an accident…some young pilot must have made a terrible mistake. One of my co-workers turned on her radio and the news people were just as confused as we were.
Then the second plane hit and confusion turned into concern. And then the first tower came down and concern turned into panic and fear. Everyone in the office huddled around the radio, listening to every detail, trying to make sense of what was going on. We all had friends, family and co-workers that were in NYC that day…it was awful. I’ll never forget that feeling of helplessness.
My good friend from college, also my co-worker and office-mate, was in NYC early that morning for a construction site visit at the AOL / Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. He told me afterward that he was on the job site at 8:30AM when suddenly, construction workers just started leaving the job site…all of them…until the site was completely deserted. He had no idea why they were leaving. He found out later. Thankfully, he was safe.
A friend of mine from high school was working in one of the towers. That morning, she was 15 minutes late to work. She exited the subway just as the first plane hit and was evacuated immediately. She was lucky. Another childhood friend of mine…her father wasn’t so lucky. He worked in one of the towers and was killed.
I’ll never forget going into NYC for work in the days and weeks after 9/11. I would take the Metronorth train to Grand Central and walk by the enormous wall of missing persons and memorials in the terminal. Families desperate to find their missing loved ones posted photos, letters, drawings, poems throughout the terminal. I spent a lot of time there. The place was saturated with emotion…pain, sadness, desperation…it was impossible not to feel it. It was impossible for me to look away.
Even with all the pain and anger, I remember feeling hopeful that somehow the tragedy would bring the world together. I hoped that everyone would realize that violence and war and terror are pointless…I hoped that everyone would unite in peace. I was devastated when the result of it all was more fear, more violence, and ultimately…war.
That was 10 years ago and it feels like the world is more fucked up than ever. When will we learn that violence solves nothing? When will we learn other, better ways to resolve our disputes? When will we understand that we all have more in common than we realize? When will humankind realize that we stand a better chance at survival if we band together and work toward a greater goal, regardless of race, religion, age or sex?
I hope we can figure this out soon, or else we don’t stand a chance.
Reblogging my own post from 3 years ago about what happened on this day in 2001. In three years, things in our country and around the world have only gotten worse. We all need to wake the fuck up and hold ourselves and each other to higher standards.