#237 | Sunday, November 4th 2001
On the morning of Sept. 11th, I was in my office in lower midtown Manhattan, settling in for a day at the office. Just as I was about to start getting ready to start the day, I heard a co-worker of mine run into an adjacent office and cry out, "a plane just hit the WTC!" I immediately tried to get on the Internet to find out more about what had happened. At that time, no one really knew what was going on and CNN offered no better news than my co-worker. I then rushed to the bank of windows that directly faces the WTC buildings. Being on the 11th floor of one of the last "tall buildings" as you head south in lower midtown, I had passed by these windows many, many times before, always noting what a magnificent & unobstructed view we had of the WTC buildings. What I saw as I ran to those windows was too much believe. The top of the first Tower was engulfed in flames and smoke! Even from 1 1/2 miles north of the buildings, I could clearly see that a large portion of the building was completely destroyed. I immediately broke down into tears, not knowing at that point that this event was actually a terrorist attack. I then ran back to my office to make some phone calls to my family and friends, knowing some of them did not even really know where in NYC I worked... I didn't want anyone to be worried about me. As I was getting on the phone, I heard someone yell out, "another plane hit the second Tower!" I could not believe my ears! I tried to get back on to the Internet, but all of the news sites were clogged with traffic. I ran back to the bay of windows facing the WTC Towers and saw the most horrific scene I have ever seen in my life -- both of the Towers engulfed in fire and smoke. I could not even comprehend the destruction. As the morning wore on, I did much the same as I just described -- I ran from my office to the bay of windows to the phone and back again. The two+ hours or so from the time the first plane hit to the time the last Tower actually fell seemed like an eternity. In such a short time, I had witnessed, firsthand, the most destructive and horrific scenes I hope I never have to see again. I also watched, with tears streaming down my face, both buildings collapse and then the streams of soot-covered survivors walk past our building, heading uptown, heading away from the unimaginable. I will never forget Sept. 11th -- it was a day filled with terror, immeasurable sadness and first-hand images I know I will never be able to clear from my memory. In the end, the one thing I hope I never forget are all of the innocent lives lost and all of the brave & heroic people who fought to save them. God Bless America.
Leila Bryner | 26 | New York

#235 | Sunday, November 4th 2001
i think i first realised something wasn't right when i saw the number of people on the street. i was working in the restaurant of a midtown hotel at the time, and happened to glance out the window to see what looked like a small parade going by on the sidewalk. it was roundabout 10am...too early yet for lunch, but late enough that most folks should've long since been settled in their offices. still, i just kind of shrugged it off. looking back on it, there was also an unusual amount of phone-ringing going on in the main hall, but at the time i thought nothing of it. i was just concentrating on doing my damn job so no-one would be too p.o.'d when i decided to dash early...the weather was incredible, and being as it was the start of september, i was going to take full advantage of the summer sun while it lasted.
then the hysterical guy came running in. i don't know who he was, all i do know is that he told us the world trade centre had been attacked by terrorists and the whole city was being shut down, and then promptly ran back out into the street again. no one knew whether to take him seriously or not, but as we stood around in shock watching the crowds of exiled workers outside get denser, we figured we'd better. as our brunchers fled, we all started grabbing our stuff to leave, even as we'd not yet been told to...most of us were anticipating a long trek home as the subways had been shut down, and though it hadn't actually sunken in to ANYONE exactly what was going on, i think i speak for all of us when i say we just wanted out of manhattan.
we didn't have to worry about permissions, though, as it turned out. the restaurant was officially closed down before even one of us could leave.
even as my coworkers and i joined the man stampede up lexington avenue, i really had no clue how bad the situation was. as we walked, i took out my mobile and began ringing people i knew would be in the city at the time, and a load of us agreed to convene in (or at least around...if they too had decided to close) a pub up in the e90's and make the rest of the journey to the bronx and points northward as a group. turns out the place WAS open, packed to capacity, in fact, and each and every one of their big-screen tvs, usually reserved for sports matches, broadcasted video footage of the towers being hit. i think seeing that...the second one in particular, being literally sliced in half by the aeroplane...was what jolted me into reality. this was not an accident. this was not a minor event that would be forgotten in a week's time. this was an all-out attack on a city that had seemed just hours before to be completely invincible. i didn't even want to think about the number of people that might have been killed, but i knew at that point it was going to be astronomical.
we ended up having to walk as far as 149th street in the bronx before the trains began running again. it was a relief, yeah, but honestly in the condition the lot of us were in, it didn't make too much of a difference. i don't know what time it was exactly when i got back to my apartment, but my answering machine was full to capacity with phonecalls from friends and family in ireland worried about the state of myself and my room mates. i'd expected those, but among them was also a call from my aunt here in new york...regarding my cousin and good friend, who happens to be a fireman. he was officially missing as of sometime that afternoon. he hadn't even crossed my mind, as he didn't work anywhere NEAR the trade centre. for nearly two days we assumed the worst of his condition, when someone finally decided to contact my aunt and uncle to tell them he was indeed alive and had been in a downtown hospital the whole time. i would learn later on that while he and his brother (also a fireman) were among the lucky ones, a number of guys they worked with who i knew through them were not. even now, most of them are still "missing"...no bodies yet or anything.
i moved to new york 2 years ago with the usual visions of the greatest city in the world. as much as i like to view myself as a cynic, or at least a realist, i was caught as much by surprise by all this as anyone else. even in my short time here, i'd come to see new york as MY city...and i, like everyone else, never thought in a million years this sort of thing could happen in MY city. but it did. and i think it can safely be said that though life will indeed go on...it has to...nothing...not this city, this country, or the world as a whole, will ever be the same again.

ciarán | 23 | New York

#206 | Monday, October 15th 2001
I had actually called my Mom at 8:46 am, for some strange reason I remember that. I guess that's not too strange though...on a day like that, we will remember what we were wearing, whether or not the sun was shining that day, all those seemingly insignificant little details. First, I am a New Yorker, though I'm not a New York New Yorker, if that makes sense. I'm feeling all of this very strongly. I had called my Mom to tell her I was going to bed and I wouldn't be able to make my doctor's appointment. No sooner had I fallen asleep, I heard my front door open and someone coming up the stairs. It was my Aunt. My Mom had been leaving me frantic messages on my machine, trying to find out the phone numbers of my many NYC relatives who work in or in the vicinity of the WTC. (By the way, my family is okay, but many of their coworkers are not...they worked on the 82nd floor of Tower 2, and the plane hit approximately at the 90th floor). She finally sent my Aunt over to wake me up and look up the phone numbers so we could make sure they were okay. I had just turned on the TV, when Tower 2 collapsed, right before my eyes.....I fell right to the floor with it. Right onto my knees...I had just woke up, and I couldn't quite comprehend the fact that 2 planes hit each WTC tower, AND the Pentagon. I was completely dumbfounded until actually watching TV for at least an hour. If you've ever been to NYC, especially if you had the opportunity to be in the WTC. I was lucky enough to be up there, with my relatives. I remember sitting in the president's chair (of Fuji Bank) and back then they were located on the 98th floor. Looking out onto the cityscape...absolutely breathtaking. I also remember thinking, ironically, this building is so monstrous it must be virtually indestructible. Now those great and beautiful structures have been reduced to tons of smouldering rubble...
Gail | 19 | New York

#186 | Friday, October 5th 2001
I was working at 17 Battery Place on the 11th floor. It was a very frightening day for everyone. The tremendous loss of life is one of the worst tragedy's I have witnessed in my life. My heart is with the families of those who lost a loved one in the WTC Disaster. Lets all work together to keep living our lives and not let terrorism win.
Anthony M. Capriotti | 23 | New York

#182 | Tuesday, October 2nd 2001
I was driving into NYC and had just pulled into the parking lot near our uptown office when I heard that a plane had crashed into the WTC. I thought it was a small plane, perhaps a navigational error. The time was 8:53. I got on the elevator and went upstairs. My officemate arived crying and said another plane had crashed into the WTC. We both rushed to the other side of the building where we could see the WTC burning. I could not believe that it was real.

My dh works across the river, and he saw the second plane crash and both towers collapse. He was very scared for my safety and urged me to go home.

We all rushed into an office with a tv and watched the scenes unfold. There were many rumors, the plane crash at the Pentagon, the plane crash in PA, a truck stopped on the George Washington Bridge filled with explosives. All turned out to be true. The office announced we could go home. But the city was basically sealed off, no tunnels or bridges open, no buses or trains running.

I decided to drive north into Westchester County and went over the Tappan Zee Bridge. When I got to the other side, I was never so thankful to be in NJ in my life.

My life has totally changed now. Every trip into NYC brings memories of that day, fears of the tunnels I ride through each day on the train and subway, fear everytime the trains stop. Getting around is more difficult now, and people are still walking around looking shell-shocked. Every day I see the "Missing" posters on street lights, then open my newspaper and read obituaries about the same missing persons. Life will never be the same.

Lisa | 41 | New York

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