#102 | Wednesday, September 19th 2001
Wednesday, September 12, 2001 8:13:37 AM
Its not been a night for sleep. Not unusual for me... I'm always up most the night. I have been going out to look down on the wreckage and ruin. All through the night one image sticks out in my mind. As I look out on the smoke pouring out of what was The World Trade Center, and now called ground zero the klieg lights creating an eerie white glow underlighting the cloud. The jagged tops of blackened buildings glimpsed through casual breaks in the blanket of smoke as the wind continues to carry the dust and smoke east over lower Manhattan. Each time I look my eye would be drawn to the clearer end of the site where a few buildings still stand around Battery Park (the section of the financial district designed by my friends Vaughan, and Anne Marie - who is from Chicopee by the way). Glad to see their work still standing I'm sure the area has sustained much more damage than meets the eye. Still something more remarkable standing there in plain view kept clear by prevailing winds just to the west of Ground Zero. I feel like Francis Scott Key when I see her standing tall in her tarnished green gown holding high her torch as if her light might guide the rescue workers as they hope to find victims. Or more to the point to give guiding light to all the many souls traveling homeward. I see even from here her slightly bowed head and her concerned and caring expression and I feel her heart. Though I see her pain and respect her solemnity I can't help but notice her strength and her pride as she seems now to stand ever taller... ever stronger. A true mother of Liberty mourning the sudden and unexpected death of her children while she looks directly into the epicenter of the catastrophe and exclaims to the world "The Children of Liberty, the meek and the mild, may have been smitten before my eyes but The Family of Liberty lives strong!" Inspired by her torch held high I placed two tall prayer candles together to replace the light from the two towers ripped from our beloved skyline. Lighting them in honor of the victims of this monstrous and senseless act of murder I noticed an immediate effect on my psyche. I then photographed them burning in my window overlooking the smoldering cloud of dust and ash rising from "ground zero". I printed it out as a flyer which I put up around town and posted on the web as a memorial called Twin Lights. After learning that I was blessed to have known about one third of the WTC MIA in happier times I was completely crushed. Finding solace under a tree near the pond in Central Park a melody came to my head inspiring me to write a song titled "Two Towers" providing both strength and inspiration to get through it all. Brian Pride

Brian Pride | 39 | New York

#96 | Wednesday, September 19th 2001
On the moment it happened I was in a Personal Management class. My teach had gotten a phone call on her cell. She answered it in the middle of the glass and all we heard was 'Oh my God!' as she covered her mouth. She immediatley hung up and announced to the class that two planes just crashed into the world trade towers. stunned.
Melissa | 18 | New York

#95 | Wednesday, September 19th 2001
The weekend before. Nick Albanese, a Saint Rose sophomore had a heart attack sitting at his computer. The wake was Tuesday morning and a lot of students were there when the towers were hit. I really didn't know him so I wasn't.
10:00am, I got up and took a shower, half asleep like every other morning. When I got out of the shower I saw that I has a voice mail. Conti, "Yo, I'm hungry, wanna get lunch?" So I call him back, still in my bath robe.
"Are you watching this?"
"What?"
"Turn on the tv."
"What channel?"
"Any channel."
I turn on the television, expecting to see something crazy, maybe even funny. NYC engulfed in smoke, the pentagon in flames. "Holy shit." That's about all I could say that day. I got ready, eyes glued to the tv the whole time. Now I have to go to class.
Halfway there I think, Jana. This is a recent ex-friend of mine who has an apartment in the village. I get to class and the tv is on, I'm hypnotized again, until the teacher comes in and turns it off. The teacher and some of the class had a discussion about what happen, why it happen, I just tuned it out. At least I didn't have to learn global history. Class dismissed.
I walk over to the campus center and think about using the phone, huge line. There are a bunch of people in the commuters lounge watching a big screen tv. I walk outside to smoke a cigarette, I smoked a lot of cigarettes that day. I hear "Classes canceled for the day." Book it back to Bru.
I sit in my room, tv on constantly of course, and I'm on the phone for hours. I called Mike about 20 times to see if he knew where Jana was. I called Kaitlyn in New Jersey, and Conti here at school. I talked to Nathan and Matt on-line. I talked to a lot of people that day. I just wanted us all to be back in Kingston, all together. I have to get away.
Taking caution not to go downtown, I go to McDonald's with Conti to get something to eat. Comfort food. I finally get a page from Mike. He seems normal.
"Have you talked to Jana?"
"Yeah"
"Today?"
"Yeah, she's on her way home"
Relief.
Everyone I know is ok, but I know by at least the 5th degree I know someone who died. I went to a candlelight vigil at SUNY, wanted to go to mass but I never got around to it. Classes were canceled the next day too. As the week went on, things seemingly go back to normal. Seemingly.

Mandy Lawrence | 19 | New York

#85 | Tuesday, September 18th 2001
On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I awoke to chaos--loud noise, darkness, and a stomach full of knots. I killed my alarm clock, slapped at the lights and shook my head. I wasn't quite awake and I couldn't quite remember why I'd set my clock for what was usually my bedtime.

By the time I remembered that I was scheduled to be on the Upper East Side by 5:30, I had fallen back asleep, jolted awake, and angrily cursed whatever civic commitment induced me to be a poll watcher in New York's primary elections.

I showered, grabbed a bagel, and hailed a cab.

At the polls, everything went smoothly. The poll workers were chatty, happy because the sun was bright and the sky was blue. Even the police officer fumbling through unfamiliar duty was smiling. I played with my new Black Berry and mass-emailed my friends, inviting them to that night's party, which i promised would be "fun in a jubilant, open bar sort of way."

My cell rang-- Em calling to tell me a plane just hit the World Trade Center, right outside her office window. She gave me the news, but we weren't concerned. It was a weird accident and a curiosity, but she was busy with election day work and I had my own distractions at the polls. We chatted for a minute and rang off with a cheery "I love you".

By then, news had started to spread. I was talking to the police officer about how the weekend promised great beach weather. "There's been an accident at the World Trade Center," he said. "Every officer in the city has been called down there."

"So you have to go?" I asked.

"Nah, I'll keep an eye on things here," he replied.

More cell phones began to ring. In minutes, everybody knew about the plane.

Still, people were calm. Several poll workers tried to remember what year the Empire State Building was struck by a small plane. Somebody argued that it was in the 1980's. Everybody else laughed at her, including the police officer.

Soon the calls started flooding in. My cousin called. An ex-girlfriend. No, it wasn't terrorists, I told people. It was just an accident. Stop your worrying and stop jumping to conclusions. Still, when my cell stopped working and I couldn't reach Em, I started to get worried.

I left the polls, headed for downtown. I found the subways out and the streets starting to fill with stranded commuters and confused New Yorkers. Nobody had the full story.

I was headed for NYPIRG's offices down on Murray Street. I didn't know those offices were evacuated after they watched the towers collapse outside their windows. I couldn't get a cell line, and the pay phones were mobbed. When I finally got one, nobody picked up the number Em had left.

By then I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't figure out exactly what it was. I walked from the East 90s down through Central Park and into Times Square. The streets were all chaos. People stared at the giant TV screens in Times Square, which all showed flaming buildings and smoke. Others wandered in and out of traffic. A short man I took for a government bureaucrat by his short sleeve work shirt and cheap tie was shouting that people needed to give blood. An ambulance speeding on the wrong side of 34th Street almost crashed head first into a black SUV speeding in the opposite direction.

I realized that I would never find Em in the chaos. I got as far south as the 30s before deciding to head for a landline. I knew she would call me. I tried all her numbers from my apartment on 56th and Broadway. Nothing. My secretary told me Em had called the office four times, and I decided that would be the best place to wait.

I walked to work, much as I do every morning. I stopped by Saint Clare's to give blood. The streets housing the local precinct, a municipal court, and the hospital were all barricaded.

The streets grew more crowded. Cars had difficulty threading through the confused people that paid no attention to the traffic lights. On the corner of Ninth and 51st, I saw a woman struck by a red Explorer. The crowd shouted for the police and an ambulance quickly arrived. There was blood. I won't describe it, as I'm trying desperately to forget it. By the unhurried way she was placed on the stretcher, I took her for dead. I keep hoping I'm wrong on that one. Maybe the EMT was just being extremely careful.

I hurried to work. I needed to find Em and I needed her immediately. At the office, I again dialed all the numbers I had for her. Some were down. The others rang unanswered. I left more voicemail.

I got the full story from a coworker. When I realized the extent of the destruction, I could feel my heart imploding. The one thing I needed was to know Em was safe. I hurried back to my office and stared at the phone.

The phone. Friends and family called to check in and make sure I was safe. No big deal, I told them. I'm fine. Don't worry.

But I wasn't fine. I was worried.

When Em finally called, I still felt all twisted inside. I miserably contemplated the destruction, but knew my greatest fear would not be realized. She was safe and headed for my office.

We reunited, tried not to cry, started checking in on our friends and family. I filled the hole in my chest with Em's hugs. We treated ourselves to sushi and locked ourselves in her apartment, holding each other and watching the news. As we realized how much had really happened that day, how much we had seen and felt, we felt lucky to be together and alive.

Every day since then I have given thanks for her safety and our love. I have looked out my window at the space the terrorists destroyed and grown scared. I have hoped for peace and an end to the spilling of innocent blood. I have heard the stories of friends who were there and some who have lost loved ones. I have tried to make sense of the disorder. I have slowly resumed my life, but my life will never be quite the same.

James Vasile | 24 | New York

#74 | Tuesday, September 18th 2001
i overslept and didn't go into manhattan as i originally planned. my friend called frantically in the morning and left a message that something was happening in the World Trade Center. i scrambled out of bed and rushed to turn on the television and saw both towers crumbling in the aftermath of the attack. my heart was in my throat because the person i loved was on the 42nd floor. i collapsed crying on the floor thinking he could never survive that. but i called him soon afterwards and he was safe. he was late to work that day.
*=) | 23 | New York

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