#1662 | Wednesday, September 4th 2002
As I recall the exact time the chaos started, I had that eerie feeling about it. It is ironic that I was watching the ending of the show "AI" at that moment, which shows a submerged New York City in a make-believe distant future. Two towers stands out from the waters -- WTC.

I only knew what happened through breaking news on TV, and in my country, as the events unfolded, there was only breaking news and normal programmes resume. Little did one really know the full extent of destruction. When I saw the first tower in flames, I called my girlfriend. We were there before, standing atop one of them, and in my heart, I knew that the tower was not going to collapse, since we heard that WTC is built to withstand such damage. At first, I was thinking that it was only a small plane and though damage was done, life will be back to the usual by the next day. I was wrong. The horror was magnified further by the second plane that went into the next tower. By the time I reached home and was on BBC World, the full extent of damage was only coming into light. Pentagon was hit and there is still a hijacked plane in the sky. Then the unthinkable happened as footage shows the collapse of one of the tower and no more than 15 minutes later, the other one came down. It was almost surreal. What happened? I broke down in my heart, because life will never be the same again. Partially for me, since WTC was one of my favourite memories while we were in New York, and mostly for the rest of the people who were affected by the attacks. I fell asleep but woke up intermittenly to watch 'live' footage of the crash sites. By morning, two more towers in the WTC area collapse and New Yorkers were bracing for more, due to structual damage caused by the collapse of WTC.

The next day, everyone was talking about it, but somehow it affected me quite a bit. Partially because I was there before. I checked out the tenants of WTC and how many fine men and women perished in the buildings, and wondered how the owners, the Port Authority of New York, only insured only one tower, since the collapse of both towers only belong to fiction. As expected the NYSE closed and Manhatten came to a standstill. It is unreal because New York never sleeps. It never sleep as well that day, because everyone is busy either getting out or helping others while the uniformed men moved in.

For the whole week, I was keeping myself abreast of the news that kept coming through, but my thoughts were not on these. To me, my thoughts were on how America had took a beating and how it will recover. Courageous stories flooded through, near miracles happens, and you begin to wonder if all these are meant to happen. It was not, and through the acts of humans, it did and the damage it caused was collatorial.

To this day, I still cling onto the fact that we did not buy any WTC-related memorial souvenirs because I knew that one day I will be back. Now, sadness fills me because it is not possible now and blamed myself for not wanting to get one then. Alas.

In a personal tribute of the excellent city that it once was and hopefully will be one day, I now have the New York skyline (complete with WTC) that adorns my desktop.

Sandro Hotelling | 26 | Singapore

#1653 | Wednesday, September 4th 2002
I was on active duty in the military, stationed at Fort Lee, VA. I worked as a communications specialist at the post Emergency Operations Center. About the time I arrived to work after morning physical fitness training, a civilian lady I worked with came running into my office saying that the WTC had been hit by a plane. She scrambled to find the remote to the TV so she could go to CNN and I was busy trying to decipher what the hell was going on. At first I thought it was probably a small passeger plane ran wrong, but as we were watching live footage, another airliner hit the other twin tower. Without hesitation the first thought that came to my mind was "terrorist". The hours and months to follow will always leave a horrid scar in my heart and mind. I was instructed to sound the post air raid sirens (which is an eerie sound alone) and the post went to Threatcon Delta, which is absolutely no access. It was hard to sleep at night, especially being on a military installation and our work hours were long and exhaustive. But, no-one cared how long or how hard we worked anymore. Everyone pulled together for a common cause and that was to protect our base and the surrounding communities. God bless all the emerg. response crews that lost members, and god bless all the innocent souls trapped inside. I will never forget it.
Richy Shepherd | 26 | Virginia

#1627 | Friday, August 30th 2002
I was decorating my mothers bedroom when I herd on the radio that a plane had hit one of the twin towers. I then watched the second hit on CNN. I hope all Americans understand that your UK brothers will not forget one of your nations worst hours. God bless all.
Jason Goldberg | 26 | United Kingdom

#1603 | Monday, August 26th 2002
On the morning of September 11th. I was waking up, taking a shower and making Quaker Oatmeal for breakfast when I turned on the television to check the traffic on my way to work to find what appeared to be a flic from the movie independence day. I didn't think it was real. How could something like that happen? My sister had a friend working next to the twin towers. My dads girlfriend had a cousin in the building. A nation so strong, so prosperous. How could it be? Shocking it cut my heart and for days I could feel just a sense of pain on the land. Not my pain but pain. The pain of the people. I felt the terror of the enemy trying to come in but I felt the judgement of God on those evil doers come even stronger. It was a time of mourning and intercession for me. Now I know that the end times are nearer than even. Jesus could come back tonight are you ready? Am I ready?
Jeramiah Giehl | 26 | Texas

#1582 | Wednesday, August 21st 2002
My co-worker/friend and I were driving to work at 8:50 AM that morning. We live and worked in Staten Island. I was driving, and we take Front Street, a street on the edge of the water. We worked at the Courthouse, which is on the water and directly across the water is downtown Manhattan. I was driving, and the Towers were on our right. I turned to say something to her, and I noticed that there was an explosion that had just erupted in one of the towers. We both were stunned, but oddly enough, we both thought that because it was early, we were imagining it. We drove a little more, and again, we saw the huge fire. I braked my car in the middle of the street, and began honking my horn and pointing. Other drivers ahead and behind me stopped too. As we drove on, we saw a couple of fire engines going towards the Verrazano Bridge, with their sirens on. It’s sad to think now most of those men never made it back.
When we got to work, none of our other co-workers believed us. We got out a small television and turned it on. As we turned it on, we saw the plane flying, the second plane. Some people across the street said that they actually heard the plane fly overhead as well. I was on the phone with my mother at that exact moment, and she too was watching television. She started saying just as the plane veered towards the second tower, “Oh my god, there is another plane. There is another plane!" It was at this point that another friend and co-worker said, “This is not an accident.” That thought hadn’t crossed my mind.. I thought that what was happening was a fluke, that a plane had gone off course or something.
We all rushed outside and ran across the street toward the water. People were becoming hysterical, many people were crying and becoming very animated. Staten Island is a small place, with a lot of firemen, and a lot of people who work in Manhattan. I was worried about all of my friends who work in Manhattan, and I was just so scared. We began hearing stories that the Pentagon was hit, and some people were saying that the Washington Monument was also hit. I remember thinking: We are under attack. I thought that pretty soon, we were going to start seeing bombs exploding everywhere. I just couldn’t believe it was happening. A court officer said to me, "Dana, today is September 11th, and it certainly is 9-1-1." I realized our national call number for emergencies was indeed today, the 11th day of September. I remember thinking that is beyond ironic, it is too damned eerie.
We saw both towers go down, not on television, but right across the water. It was surreal… people were really losing it at this point. I was with a friend, who at the time was scared his brother was near the area, and we started screaming and hugging. I remember him screaming out his brother's name. The building just seemed to disintegrate. . It was like a horrible dream. People started coming in, hundreds of them, off of the Staten Island Ferry. They were covered in soot, some were bloody and hurt. I remember a woman who collapsed in front of me on the courthouse steps. She needed something to drink, and I had a Diet Coke in my hands. I told her that I had already drank out of it, and she told me that germs were the last things on her mind. I remember saying to myself: How stupid am I? This woman just escaped from a war zone, and I am thinking she would be worried about my germs. I don’t think the enormity of the situation had sunk in yet. I saw a man, who worked the floor of the Stock Exchange wandering around, still with the tickets in his hand. I saw people hysterical, saying that their family members were in one of the towers. People were saying how they saw people jumping out of the windows, that they were landing on the pavement right in front of them. I couldn’t believe that this was really happening. My co-worker was looking for her step-mother, who worked across the street from the WTC, and often shopped there in the morning. She hadn’t heard from her yet, and was extremely worried. She thought maybe she made it to the ferry and hopped on. She hadn’t found her by 1 PM, but she did make it out. She arrived home later that night, with a stranger and her baby, who was also in the area. They were covered with ash and soot, and they saw the whole thing happen.
I spent the rest of the day in a daze. The court system was closed. The bridges and tunnels were closed. I felt so strange. I called my friends and family, and began to find out who was missing and who wasn’t. I remember waking up on the 12th and really and truly believing that I dreamt all of this. To this day, I cannot think of that day without crying. I know this sounds almost corny, but life for me changed that day. And it probably will never be the same.


Dana Cognetta | 26 | New York

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