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Filed Under: Aussie Dave
Tags: 9-11, September 11, terrori attacks, Terrorism, USA, World Trade Center
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I was in Vienna on business. I had meetings in the morning, then in the afternoon I had to go back to my hotel to get my bags and go to the airport. When I walked into the lobby, people in the lobby were acting very strangely. I asked what was going on and someone told me – the first plane had hit the first tower a few minutes ago. I got in a cab to the airport and the cab driver was listening in German to the reports. He was translating for me the whole way to the airport, as it all unfolded. Driver would say something incredulously in German, I would ask whats the matter ; “another plane has just hit”….. “one of the towers has collapsed”…… “the other tower has collapsed as well.”. It was pretty surreal. I bluffed my into the executive lounge since I knew there was a TV there and watched the CNN coverage until my flight to Bucharest. Lots of very nervous fliers. No idea what kind of ridiculous news would await us when we arrived. Finally settled in at my hotel in Bucharest and of course spent the entire night watching CNN. And most of the next day. And the next….
My husband was in New Orleans, and called me in Los Angeles – “Do you know what’s happening?” It was 6 am in LA. I turned on the TV and sat on the edge of the bed crying. That turned to screams as I saw the second plane go into the second tower. I tried calling family member is NY, many on their way into Manhattan to get to work. “All lines are busy, please try your call again later” was all I got for hours. Take the kids to school, try to be normal Mommy, and then come back home and sit in front of the TV all day crying. I am still crying as I sit here typing. Most of the people who died were not heroes – they were everyday people, just like you and me, living, working, loving, trying to do the right thing, dragged into a war they did nothing to provoke. By refusing to name the enemy here in America, we will never conquer them. Name the enemy. Islam is the enemy who has changed every single person’s life. Hashem yinakem damum of those who were niftar on this day.
I was getting ready for work when I turned on the television news and saw it happen. It took a while to get over the shock, but when I got to my office, I could see the smoke rising from ground zero out the office window. President Bush had a golden opportunity to unite the country into making shared sacrifices to defeat the enemy, but instead he told us to go about our business and let government professionals handle it. As a result, we still face the same enemy and I have never forgiven him for this incompetence.
I was at home fighting a cold, getting ready to get up and grade papers (I was in the last year of completing my Ph.D program).
My wife called and said “there’s been a plane crash at the Twin Towers.” I thought “uh oh, a small, private plane must have gone off course or the pilot had an health emergency.
Once I turned on the TV and saw what was happening I went right to “terrorism.” No way it was an accident. We’d been asleep at the switch for years on the subject of Islamic terrorism, ignoring the experts and perpetuating a “business as usual” approach.
I, too, was disappointed that “go shopping” was what we got instead of an honest call for shared sacrifice and the realization that we really were in the Long War, now.
All to quickly the consensus evaporated and here we stand today, with a President who thinks being nice to the Muslim Brotherhood is more important that ensuring that Iraq or Afghanistan end on terms favorable to our country.
I was walking on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village heading to work and saw the first plane fly overhead right before it struck the World Trade Center.
I was at home here in Iowa and only found out about the attacks when I turned on my car radio heading for lunch two hours later. I was listening to NPR and thought I was hearing some kind of radio play like Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds.” It took me several minutes to comprehend that these were real events being reported. I have many friends in Washington and New York and, fortunately, found out later that no one I knew had been killed or injured. Just a terrible day for all Americans.
Eleven years ago today I was working at the UK’s largest cable TV company. After the first plane crashed I wandered over to a control room: the sort you’ve seen on TV with a whole wall of TV stations. We had every live feed that existed that day.
Slowly more and more people came along. I guess we were all thinking what a terrible accident and some had even started to drift back to work. I too was on the verge of turning around and heading back to my work when I saw with my own eyes the explosion from the second hit.
I stayed and watched until both towers fell down then I went to my car and drove home wondering where the people I knew in New York were that day. It took some time to find all of them.
Not long after I had a conversation with someone in Israel whose job was to work out how to destroy things. How many bombs would it take to destroy any given target. He told me, following the attack, they’d tried to work out if they had anything conventional in the arsenal that would have done what those two planes did. The answer is no.
We had been making annual trips to visit my wife’s sister in Israel, until the Al-Aksa Intifada broke out in Sept 2000 with Ariel’s Sharon stroll on the temple mount.
We kept in contact with our family in Israel, who live in Ginot Shomron. They were basically living in lockdown mode, month after month after month. People only left the Yishuv when absolutely necessary, my brother-in-law drove to work every day only in organized convoys under army escort. They were feeling under seige, people there only spoke about the “Matzav”.
My wife and I decided to make a solidarity visit to try to lift the spirits of her sister’s family and the people of Ginot Shomron and all of Israel. We booked a flight, but just us and our 1-year old, the rest of the kids stayed behind in New Jersey with Gran & Gramps.
We arrived on June 14, 2001 to an empty airport. My sister-in-law met us and brought us to Ginot Shomron. Her neighbors were so excited to see “outsiders”. We spent Shabbat there, and everyone said “Kol-HaKavod” and “You guys must be crazy”.
We booked our last 3 days in the Dan Pearl (as it was called at that time) in Jerusalem. We arrived to find an empty city. No tourists. We walked down a deserted Ben-Yehuda Street. Everything seemed subdued, not just the people, but even the traffic at rush-hour. Only three rooms in the hotel were occupied, we were on one of them. We had use of the swimming pool all to ourselves, no lifeguard. At breakfast, instead of the traditional spread, the chef came out to ask us what we wanted for breakfast and prepared it. Every morning, the complimentary copy of the Jerusalem Post reported the brutal murders of innocent people at the hands of blood-thirsty terrorists the previous day.
On our last day, we had lunch in Sbarro on King George.
On June 21st, we boarded our flight back to New Jersey, and sent our film out for developing (no digital cameras back then!) and filed the photos in our memory box.
However, we followed the news closely. On August 5th, my sister-in-laws neighbor Tehiya Bloomberg was brutally gunned down on Kvish 55, her husband and daughter critically wounded with permanent spinal damage. What do you feel when you hear that someone was brutally murdered at the spot you drove past just a weeks earlier?
Then, on August 9th we learned of the horrible, horrible Sbarro bombing. What do you feel when you hear that so many people were brutally murdered in the same restaurant that you were sitting in just weeks earlier?
Monday afternoon, September 10, 2001. I am sitting in the plaza of the World Trade Center eating my lunch. There is a live country-western concert in the enormous plaza between the towers, there are hundreds of people sitting on chairs under a crystal-clear blue sky. I call my wife to check in on things at home, everything is B’Seder. I work not in the Towers, but one block away at 150 Broadway. At the end of the workday, I descend into the World Trade Center, down to the PATH train that will take me back to Newark where my car is parked, I will perform my daily route through Elizabeth where I pick my daughter up at Bruriah High School, and then continue to our home 35 miles south in Marlboro, NJ.
7:50 AM, September 11, 2001: It’s a usual hectic morning getting the kids out to school, and I hurry my daughter into the car so that she will get there on time and then I can continue to the office. We are driving up the Garden State Parkway, it’s a glorious morning, the sky is a crystal clear blue and the sun is a brillant yellow. We are listening to a CD the whole way, if I remember correctly it was a Kol Achai album.
8:46 AM, September 11, 2001: We arrive at the front door of the school, I kiss daughter goodbye and continue to downtown Newark where I will park my car and then take the PATH train to the World Trade Center.
I decide to check the traffic report, so I turn the radio on. Silence. I think to myself, that’s weird, it was just working when we played the CD. I stop at a red-light and fiddle with the radio controls, pushing the buttons, but silence. Strange, the CD still works! Maybe my radio antenna has become disconnected or something. OK, let’s try something else: I push the “AM” button, but just white-noise. I push the “SCAN” button, and I hear a faint station broadcasting from Philadelphia.
Wait, what did they say? A plane has crashed into one of the Twin Towers? There is pandemonium on the airwaves. They are speaking to an eyewitness on a cell phone. As I am listening, the eye witness is screaming OMG, OMG another plane hit the other tower.
I pull over to the side and take out my (laughably primitive) cell-phone and call home. The call won’t go through. I keep trying. Finally, the call goes through. My wife has no idea what is going on, she hasn’t turned on the TV this morning. I tell her to turn it on, and she tells me that it’s true, she’s watching both towers burn. I remember saying over and over, “OMG, OMG those Bastards, I can’t believe they did it!”. I say that, because I am already developing a trauma, and have that feeling that I am becoming detached from my own body, my own reality.
My wife tells me to go back to the school to get the daughter and then come home. I keep saying no, I have to get into the city to see if I can help. I know so many people there, maybe they need people to help. My wife begs me to not go, just turn around and come home.
I do not listen to the wife. I continue into downtown Newark to park my car. There are policeman on all the streets directing traffic. My windows are all open, the police are silently directing traffic, everything is moving in slow-motion. I grew up in New York City, my father always worked in the Wall Street Area. I watched, a wide-eyed little boy as the Towers were being constructed in the early 70′s. I got my first summer-job on Wall Street in 1981, and took the subway from my home in Brooklyn, down to Wall Street. I was a mail-clerk/messenger for a large law firm. Everyday, I took a bag full of documents that needed to be delivered to other firms in the Towers. I learned how to navigate all the way to the 100th floor, stopping at the 44th and 78th floor Sky Lobbys. This is all too personal to me. These buildings have been my life for as long as I am alive.
I arrive at the parking Garage at the Newark Gateway Center, next to Newark Penn Station and the PATH train that would ordinarily transport me into the bowels of the Trade Center. There are about 10,000 people milling about. I have a second office in the Gateway Center complex because my company houses a data center there, and I have an electronic ID card that allows me entry.
There are police everywhere in the building, after a lengthy argument they let me upstairs. Our Newark office has about 250 employees, and this morning only about 20 made it in. Of the IT staff of about 45, only 5 made it, including the manager of the data-center.
We search the entire office for a Television, and can you believe it, no can ever remember seeing a Television in this office. We are just reading news updates from the NY Times website on a PC. Then, someone finds an MSNBC video stream, and we are able to watch a tiny streaming video feed. We are all crowding around the screen, listening and watching, it is now about 9:50 AM.
We were watching, and digesting the news that a plane crashed into the Pentagon, and yet another plane crashed in Pennsylvania, and we are all speculating on how this could be happening.
Then, at 9:59 AM, the South Tower collapsed. I remember myself just repeating over and over, “This is not happening, this is just a dream, this is not happening, I am just dreaming, this is not really happening.”. Over and over and over, I keep repeating this mantra.
That feeling, like I am becoming detached from my own body is getting stronger. I am feeling numb, I am so numb that I can’t feel myself. You could stick pins in me, I can’t feel my hands, my arms, my whole body is going numb, I can’t feel anything. I am sitting in a chair babbling, “This is not happening, This DID NOT happen, this can’t be happeninig”. This went on for another 30 minutes.
At 10:27 AM, the North Tower collapsed. We turn off the PC.
The data center manager asked if I have a car, I said yes, I guess I do. We entered the data tape vault in the data center and start throwing all of the back-up tapes into cardboard boxes. We are going to take the tapes home for safe-keeping in case someone decides to blow up the Newark Gateway Center Complex.
We finish, then we turn out all the lights, lock up the office and leave, not knowing when we will return.
Descend the elevator to the lobby, and I walk to my car with my box of back-up tapes which I place in the back-seat. I drive out of Newark, to Elizabeth where I knock on the locked door of the school. The secretary will not let me in, she says it’s safest for the girls to stay inside. I argue with her and tell her that I am numb from head to toe, so just give me my daughter so we can go home. She finally agrees, unlocks the door to let daughter out. We drive home, silently, except for occasional outbursts of crying.
We arrive. All of the other kids have returned from school. The wife and I look at one another. What will be? What will happen? Is this the beginning of the end?
The suburban is quiet is more quiet than usual, there is no air-traffic overhead, the noise of hundreds of aircraft flying over Suburban NJ is gone. It is eerie. I am numb from head to toe. I tell the wife that I can’t feel anything. She doesn’t know what I mean. The silence is occasionally broken by the sound of F-16 patrols flying overhead, that’s the only sound from above for the next few days.
We are watching cable-news. We watch the same scenes repeated over and over and over.
We go to bed. I am still numb, like someone injected Novacaine into me. Why can’t I feel anything?
The next day I am on a conference call. The company has about 1,000 employees from lower Manhattan with no where to work. I am put on a task-force to begin plan emergency operations. The Newark Gateway Center Complex will be used as our emergency headquarters. I tell the wife that I need to drive up to the office. I leave. I am in the company of the National Guard for most of my drive up. Newark Airport is closed, blocked off by Guardsmen with machine guns. I will be busy for the next few days, few months.
It’s good to be busy when you are numb.
In the 2 years following, I have constant flashbacks and dreams. Several times a week I see the planes crashing. I am in the car pushing the buttons on the radio saying “Hey, that’s weird, my radio is not working”. I am on the cell phone with the wife saying “OMG OMG I can’t believe those bastards actually did it”. I am in the office, watching a tiny video feed saying “This is not happening, This is not happening”. I am numb. At work, whatever the topic of discussion, it always goes back to reminiscing about “that Day”.
July 23, 2003: My family board a one-way flight to Israel, we are moving to Israel. That’s a whole other story to tell. I continue having the dreams and flashbacks, but they eventually start to get further between, and then they stop.
I think I know what PTSD is. I think I have it. Because, every once in a while, it all comes flooding back. Doesn’t happen to often now, but a few years back, Tom Hanks narrated a beautiful documentary film about the boat rescue of hundreds of thousands of people from lower Manhattan on that morning.
When I watched that film about 3 years ago, I started bawling. Not just crying, but completely break-down sobbing bawling. I never made it to the Towers that morning, but you have to understand. I grew up on the New York islands, Lower Manhattan was my playground. I lived the first 40 years of my life there. I took 9/11 very personally.
I can’t believe that I just spent about two hours writing this. I think it is therapeutic.
yes,writing is therapeutic and living in Israel enables one to come to terms in time. The thing is in Israel others are with you in your sorrow and you are not complacent or silent!
first I thought “this is wayyyy tooo long”, but I read it…
Very sad indeed.
Wishing you all the best and a Shana Tova with no stress!
As a Los Angeleno, I was sleeping. I remember hearing my upstair neighbor’s TV on early, which was very strange. (I found out later that they had a son in New York city who called them with the news.) Then one the my carpool moms called me to ask if it was a good idea to send the kids to school today. I asked why not? Then she told me. I couldn’t look at the news for days. I just couldn’t look at all the horror. It took a few months, I think, before I could actually sit down and see the attack in its entirety. I still cry when I think about it. It’s like my parents’ Pearl Harbor. Truly a day to live in infamy. G-d bless all the innocent who died that day for the crime of being American or in America. G-d bless all the innocent who have died since, everywhere. May their blood be avenged.
I was in 6th grade. It was still the first days. We went thru our normal day and went outside for science lab. Then we came back for social studies the last period. The teacher told us that there had been an announcement that there was a telecommunications and travel disruption in NYC and some peoples parents may not be in contact or home for awhile. Later, we would learn that “for awhile” meant forever for some kids.
We went home on the bus as normal and when I got off at the corner, a house down from mine, my mom was either there or just outside our house, crying out the news to us who got off. I dont remember my reaction, but I remember watching the coverage the whole day. I was too young and distant to have any emotions about it other than shock.
I was home, watching tv at night. My 16 month old son was half asleep in my lap, after putting up the usual tantrum to be put in his cot. My husband was out, playing indoor soccer. The program I was watching was interrupted with images of the first tower. What a horrible accident, I thought. Then the second tower. The news hadn’t said anything about terror attacks, just that another plane crashed. I phoned my husband on his mobile, and told him about the two planes. There was a long pause and then he said “they worked out how to hit the States. The intifada has gone to the States”.
i was in bed in cali
bad jew that i am, overslept instead of being at slichos
when i got up at 730, it was from my phone ringing…boss calling me to turn on tv…the world had totally changed
he was right…we are not the better for it
I arrived to my inlaws 5 mins earlier in Jerusalem,saw the broadcast thought it surreal and recollected the 24 hours I spent in Manhattan a few years earlier with my mums cousin driving through down town in a yellow cab.
thankfully my baby son was around to hug.I will never be complacent and will never forget my American Uncle whom defended peace and democracies by serving in the US Navy as a commander in WWI & II in China and retired to Australia.
I was in New Zealand. We took a cab around 1:30 a.m. to our hostel and the driver said “they bombed the Twin Towers”. I thought “no big deal, this has happened before”. (I was thinking about Oklahoma or that one time a bomb went off in the ground floor, I think)
The next morning we were in a shopping center and in the food court all the TVs were on CNN or something. All the broadcast looked like the end of the world, just rubble and smoke. I still have this image of people eating and literally everyone was staring at the screens. Surreal.
I had relatives visiting NYC at that time and they actually wanted to have lunch that day on the top floor of one of the Towers.
Couldn’t get in touch with them on the phone for at least a week, so e-mail worked best.
What I still don’t get is how there are still so many questions open about how the Towers collapsed, Building 7 which was completely fine, how there was no rubble in the Pentagon attack and in Pennsylvania from the planes themselves and the passengers, how all the surveillance camera tapes were collected around the pentagon, etc, etc. I just don’t understand how this happened…(I know the official story, but that is too simple)
I was working on a project in connection with Akamai and I stumbled upon this movie:
An Israeli Hero Of Flight 11 – On Sept. 11, 2001
I cried quite a bit after watching this.
I was at home in Petach Tikva, getting ready to take my daughter to an after school class. My mother called me and said “turn on the radio, a plane has crashed into the Twin Towers’. I thought “stupid pilot. How can you miss the Towers?”. I turned on the TV to see if there was anything on the news and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the second plane hit the Towers. I knew immediately that this was no accident, and no pilot error.
Meanwhile my husband was flying from Switzerland to London to catch an El Al plane home. I had several heart-stopping hours until he could make contact. He was grounded for 24 hours, but eventually the UK authorities allowed only El Al to fly (kudos to El Al’s security) and he got back in time for Rosh Hashana.
I work in an accountant’s office and we had many colleagues at Kantor Fitzgerald who lost, I think, 700 workers on 9/11 in their offices in the Twin Towers. I can still picture my boss saying “the whole company is gone” over and over in utter shock.
I was teaching a high school English class in Brooklyn from which the Twin Towers were clearly in view. Teaching was out of the question. The sound of emergency sirens was constant. Relieved parents began picking up their children. I wondered where I’d be spending the night. Then the subway resumed operation. There was a subdued quiet in the subway car unlike any regular work day.
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