#1595 | Saturday, August 24th 2002
I was driving down to Atlantic City, listening to Howard Stern. I know alot of people think he is nasty and vulgar, but what Howard and his crew did that day was amazing. He really relayed the event as it should have been... THANK YOU HOWARD AND CREW!!! I WILL NEVER FORGET!!!
Brian | 29 | New Jersey

#1569 | Monday, August 19th 2002
On September 11, my husband and I left for work on time for a change. We managed to make it to the 7:52 train from River Edge to Hoboken. We must’ve arrived early to Hoboken, because when we took the PATH train from Hoboken to the World Train Center we arrived probably around 8:35. At the top of the escalators, in front of the J. Crew store, my husband and I would say goodbye to each other. This morning was only slightly different than other mornings. The day before, my husband had received word that he had passed his final architectural licensing exam and was now a registered architect. He also had a root canal scheduled for that day, so we had a long, loving goodbye. I stopped off and made a deposit at Charles Schwab and walked up to Devon & Blakely to get an iced coffee (decaf, because I was 8 months pregnant). The guy behind the counter was about to hand me my coffee when we heard this incredible crack of thunder. I think everyone in the store was confused because it was such a sunny day, it didn’t really make sense that a thunderstorm was starting. Then we looked outside and saw debris falling all around. Someone ran inside from the street and said that a plane had hit the tower. We’re all thinking that some small plane or helicopter has hit. Then the guy behind the counter said that it was a bomb and that we should get out. We all ran out of the building. I ran across the street to my office at 90 Church Street. They were not allowing anyone to go upstairs. I sat on the floor and cried. I was completely hysterical, knowing that my husband had walked out of the opposite side of the building, and I didn’t know what had happened to him. A cleaning woman who worked on my floor and knew my face sat down with me and told me to get it together for the baby’s sake. After a few minutes, we were allowed to go upstairs to our offices. I rode the elevator up with Director of our MIS department. I said to him, “Oh, thank God it was just an accident, not a terrorist attack.”

My office was on the 15th floor (top floor of the building), facing the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I saw a couple of my co-workers on my way to my office. I went inside and checked my voice mail. I had one message from Mom, one from my husband. I called my husband first and told him I was okay and was so relieved to know he was okay. We spoke very briefly because I wanted to call Mom. I called Mom and she was also relieved to know I was safe. She had been in my office and knew just how close I was. She wanted to know what it was looking like outside. I looked out my window and saw people jumping. I was so close to them I can tell you what they were wearing and just how their ties fluttered in the wind. I was screaming into the phone and I told Mom that I just had to go. When I hung up the phone with Mom, it was must’ve been 9:03 a.m., because I watched as the second plane crashed into the South Tower. The fireball exploded in my direction and the explosion shook my building and my window sounded like it was going to shatter before my eyes. At this point, my co-workers and I decided we needed to get away from the windows. Then an announcement from building security came over the PA system. The man was hysterical and told us to evacuate the building immediately. Some people started to walk toward the elevators, but I said, no, we have to use the stairs, so we all walked down the 15 floors. I was walking very slowly. I was 8 months pregnant and I was in some pain after my run out of the World Trade Center. We finally made it all the way down the stairs and they evacuated us out into the street, but no one was telling us where to go. It felt like we were being sent straight into Hell. I felt much safer inside the building. The police just moved us along. I didn’t really have a set place in mind to go, since my method of commuting was blocked. I just started walking away. There were abandoned bags and shoes in the street. People were screaming and crying and rushing away. Some were staring in awe at what had happened. I decided to walk toward the subway, which was in City Hall Park. When I got there, I saw a woman who worked for me and sent her home. She was probably on the last subway that went uptown the entire day. I decided to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to my doctor’s office because the pain in my abdomen wasn’t getting any better and I wasn’t sure that I wouldn’t have the baby that day. I walked slowly across the bridge. A woman tried to get me to take a cab, but after the lack of control I’d had since 8:46 a.m., I wanted to at least be in control of myself. So many people offered to carry my bag and many stopped to see if I was okay. I must’ve looked pretty huge. It’s so funny because just that morning on the train into the city, so many people had run me over to get a seat and now everyone was trying to help me. When I’d made it almost to the other side, I saw someone I knew and he told me about what had happened in Washington. He looked at me like I had 3 heads because I didn’t know that had happened. I’d been a little too busy to watch the news! I walked a few steps further and I heard a collective scream from the crowd. I didn’t turn around. I was sure that it was something too horrible to see. That was when the first tower collapsed. I made it to my doctor’s office and he said that everything was fine. The baby wasn’t coming. He was in shock, too. The second tower collapsed while I was in his office. Since this was my old neighborhood, I had a couple of friends I could go to see. Our friends had taken our apartment when we moved out of the city. They work with my husband, so I thought that maybe they’d all be together. I went to their apartment, but they weren’t there. I went to another friend’s apartment. They weren’t home. I walked all the way over to another friend’s apartment on the other side of Brooklyn Heights. They weren’t there. I wandered around for a couple of hours. I heard the fighter jets flying over and saw others look up in fear. We knew that it would never feel the same to hear the sound of a plane again.

I went back and tried my old apartment again. My friend was there. She had no word on her fiance or my husband. Her fiancÚ had been on jury duty that day so he wasn’t at the office. I called my parents to tell her I was okay again. My cousin answered the phone. Apparently their phone had been ringing off the hook with family wanting to know my whereabouts. When I identified myself, she gave the phone to my Mom. This was around 2 o’clock. She called my husband’s Mom, but she had not heard from him. I called back a couple of times, but no one had heard from him. We watched with horror the collapse of the towers on TV. I had no idea whether he was living or dead and looking at the destruction, I really doubted that he’d survived. I told my friend how glad I was that I'd had that long goodbye with my husband that morning. A while later, we heard from my friend’s fiancÚ. He made it home around 4. I finally got a message from my husband at 6 o’clock that he left on our answering machine. He was safe and headed home. We spoke after he got home. He left his office on Wall Street and walked toward my office to search for me, but gave up pretty quickly. He saw papers flying through the air and he’d picked them up. Some were boarding passes from the planes. He also saw some of the plane parts on Church Street. He watched the tower collapse from the top of a building in TriBeCa. He walked from downtown to 42nd Street to the Port Authority, which was closed, then over to the river to get on a ferry to New Jersey. He was hosed off and checked by a doctor, and he boarded a train for home. I came home the following day. It was quite a day, but we were thankful that we both survived and that our baby was safe. We were quite lucky, but we didn’t know it for so long. I was convinced he was dead. We stayed at home for a couple of weeks while the smoke cleared from downtown. My office building has still not reopened. Contamination levels were too high. We had a beautiful baby boy October 15. We are very fortunate and grateful.

MM | 30 | New Jersey

#1557 | Friday, August 16th 2002
On 9/11 when I 1st heard about the attack was in my Geometry class. Some kids came in late & said that some teachers were watching the TV & that some ppl crashed a plane into the WTC. We didn't think anything of it, so we went on w/our lessons. A little into the block, the principal came around and gave our teacher a note saying that 2 planes were crashed into the WTC & it was not an accident, after that the teacher told us and we talked about it, then I went to my English class & there were ppl all upset because a few of them had brothers or sisters in the service that were supposed to come home that weekend. It was a horrible experience that I won't EVER forget. May all the people that died in the WTC, The Pentagon & every where else Rest In Peace. In memory of ~Fire fighter Thomas Foley~
Jamie K. | 17 | New Jersey

#1552 | Thursday, August 15th 2002
I was in my third period art class, on the second day of school. When our teacher walked in 15 minutes late, we jokingly scolded her for being late to class and asked if we could put the radio on. She just stood there in shock for a moment and she asked us to sit down. She said "Girls, something terrible has happened to our nation that I need to tell you about." We all sat in silence, wondering what could have happened. The first thought that jumped into my mind was that the President had been assassinated ... what other terrible thing could have happened to out nation?

Before she began to tell us the news, she looked at one of my classmates and assured her that my her mother was safe and that she "got out." At that point, many of us started to worry. We knew it was something in New York or New Jersey if our own parents were in danger. She began very calmly, telling us that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. After talking a deep breath, she added that a second plane had crashed into the other tower. Someone immediately asked if it was terrorism. She gave them a quick look, almost as if she was putting them on hold because she had more to tell us. My teacher then told us that the Pentagon has been hit and that one of the towers has collapsed. We sat there in silence and disbelief at what we had just been told. At this time, any student with a family member working at the trade center was asked to go to the office. I watched 3 of my classmates file down to the office with absolute fear and terror in their eyes. They returned only moments later, nervously informing us that the phone systems were out and that no calls could be made into New York. One girl did get through, but she was placed on the company's hold line. Instead of the usual music, she heard news of the ensuing events. When she returned to out classroom, she told us that reporters were saying that there was ash raining down on the City... I immediately thought of the movie, "Schindler's List," when the ashes from concentration camp ovens would snow down in Germany.

Secretly ignoring our principal's orders, my teacher turned on the radio and allowed us to listen. She also turned on a television and took it with her to the back corner of the room, but did not let us see because they were worried that panic would set it. She read us each message that scrolled at the bottom of the TV and then let out a panicked sigh as she watched the second tower collapse in a replay. Worried about her own sister working in Manhattan, my teacher just stood in front of the television, in some sort of transfixed daze. The rest of us sat quietly in our chairs, listening to the radio and comforting those who worried about their loved ones. We had been told that all planes were grounded, yet we heard the loud sound of an aircraft above us. This, we would later learn, was one of many military jets circling above us.
When third period finally ended, there was a mass of confusion in the halls. Half of the students were crying and panicking, and half of the students were puzzled and unaware of the magnitude of what had happened. During lunch, I slipped up to the computer lab so that I could find out the complete news. News websites, however, were overwhelmed and it was difficult to learn much of anything. I finally gave up on the administration and their rules and slipped off to the bathroom with my cell phone. After trying for nearly ten minutes, I finally got through to my parents, who were watching the events unfold across the river. I told my parents that I loved them, wiped away my tears, and gathered with my friends again as we prayed that we might get to see another day; because at that moment in time, nothing was certain and any fate was possible.

TS | 18 | New Jersey

#1536 | Monday, August 12th 2002
I was on my way to work on Route 22 in Union, NJ when the news of the first plane crash was announced. There is a part of route 22 where you come around a slight curve, and the WTC is there, right in front of you. You can't see any other NYC buildings from this vantage point. The towers were the only buildings high enough. As I came around the bend, I saw the smoke coming from the first tower. The second had yet to be hit. I had almost reached work when I heard of the second impact. There was a tremendous gasp from the people at the radio station, and many couldn't believe what they had just seen. There was speculation that it was a piece of the first plane.

Once I reached work, radios were on, and speculation was rampant. By this time, I had been told that it was a second plane. When the first tower collapsed, I went in and told my boss, who was in an open door meeting. I didn't know what else to say, or even if I should have been in there. We all just stood there in stunned silence for a while.

That afternoon, as I left work, the smell of sulfer, or something similar was everywhere. I could see the enormous cloud of dust that stretched in the distance to the east. The same smell was around for the next two or three days.

When I got home that night, my wife was in tears. She had watched the scene with many of her co-workers on a tv where she works. She watched the second plane hit the tower. I hugged my children and felt like I never wanted to let them go. I wanted to protect them from the evil that had occored, but felt I was powerless to do so. I felt helpless.

The next day, I went along that same route, only there were no towers off in the distance. My heart sank. A few days later, I spoke with my next door neighboor, who had been part of the recovery effort the first two days. He told of how disorganized and disheartend everyone was the first night. How he would go up to the firemen on the site, and they would not know what to do because all of their leaders were missing. But that by the next day, there was organization, and a sense of optimism around the site. He talked of being part of a line that was removing buckets of debris, and that often there were body parts in the buckets. It was sickening to hear, and yet I knew I needed to hear it, and wanted the world to hear it, so that we never forget what happened.

Tom | 31 | New Jersey

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