#1506 | Monday, July 29th 2002
I was only three days into my senior year when one of the teachers came rushing in the room and told the class what happened. We were all in shock and couldn’t believe what we had just heard. New York City was attacked? Everyone remembers the bomb that was triggered in one of the buildings in New York but we couldn’t imagine the Twin Towers being struck by planes. I live in Upstate New York, near Albany, so the attack kind of hit close to home. I have only been to NYC once when I was younger and I remember what a great place it was, with all the tall skyscrapers and the shopping. All day during school there was talk of the attack but teachers did their best to keep our minds on schoolwork. Some kids were crying because they knew people that worked in the towers and others were crying because they were afraid of their safety and for America in general.

I always thought of our country being the most powerful in the world. It’s a tragedy that it took a devastating attack to bring our nation closer together. Its amazing to see the whole nation, no matter what religion or ethnic background, pull together; putting flags up all over everything, setting up memorials for the victims and their families even if they didn’t know any personally, being nicer to people and just showing pride in that they live in such a great country. We are so lucky to have the freedom that we do and should never take it for granted. My senior year will forever be imbedded in my mind because of this event. I will look back and remember watching the many news broadcasts replaying the horrible images over and over. I will remember how I cried for the people that had died, the helpless and the heros. I will remember how we had such dedicated firemen doing everything they could to reach people that were hopeful survivors and working long and grueling hours and not caring. God Bless them all.

I am grateful that none of my loved ones or friends were at the scene of the attacks. I pray for the families that have lost family members and/or friends in the attacks. May our nation stick together and show our pride can’t be destroyed in times of hardship. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

Danielle | 18 | New York

#1503 | Saturday, July 27th 2002
I had a freelance sound engineering gig, offering sound support to a group of Columbia film students and various performing artists on September 11th. We were scheduled to shoot at PSNBC, a performing arts space, art studio, and coffee shop located in SOHO. At around 8:40 AM on Sept 11th, I was waiting for the E train on the A-C-E downtown platform. The E train is a line specifically created to shuttle people from uptown to a stop directly under the WTC. My stop, I knew, would be a couple stops before there, at Spring St, about 20 blocks from the Towers. My train arrived around 8:48AM. I boarded and sat down, still partially asleep. The train ride proceeded without incident, despite the fact that one tower had already been impacted on a subway line directly above the same tracks I was riding.

I arrived at Spring St at around 8:58AM and exited the subway station. When I got to the street surface, I noticed a group of people staring south. I was looking to see what they were staring at, then noticed as I got closer to them that they were staring at the Towers, one of which was sporting a huge flaming gaping hole in it. I asked the witnesses what happened, and they responded that "a small plane slammed into the towers and set them on fire." I was thinking that the small plane they were referring to must have been a private tour company that offers biplane tours of the Manhattan skyline. When I made this erroneous connection, I became angry, as I'd seen both helicopters and small planes fly perilously close to many skyscrapers in Manhattan many times. I offered up my gesture of annoyance and kept walking to the studio, thinking to myself that this was just another day in Manhattan. After all, living in Manhattan you would see similar sights daily. No matter how horrible a tower of the WTC being on fire might be, it's not enough to stop short a workday.

I arrived to the studio and went inside. None of the production crew or talent had arrived. I went back outside to gawk some more, like dozens of people were doing. There's a Sunoco station across the street from the studio, thru the park. I walked over to stand with the rest of the crowd. Then it happened.

Around 9:03AM, we all watched in horror as we saw another set of flames emerge, this time from the second tower. From our perspective of being north and facing south, the second plane which was flying north and slammed into the second tower, sending a fireball ripping thru the tower and emerging out of the north side, directed toward us. Witnesses began to scream and everyone was in a state of shock. I reached for my cell phone to call my girlfriend at our apartment, but my cell phone was dead with an untold number of voicemails stuck in it.

I headed back into PSNBC to look for my coworkers. Still no one had arrived, and I began to worry about their safety, as they were converging on the studio from all over the 5 borough area. I sat down and listened to NBC news (as PSNBC was affiliated with them), as report after report rolled in about all that was happening. New Yorkers began filtering into the cafe, ordering drinks and just sitting down in a state of shock. One of the actors arrived in a clear state of shock and sat with me. As we listened to the news, a businesswoman came in and sat down, visibly shaking. She pulled out her cell phone and tried to make a call, but her hands were shaking so much she dropped her phone. She unwrapped into a ball of tears; I assumed she knew someone in the towers or in the vicinity of Wall St. We went back outside for a bit to look some more, as if to reaffirm in our conscious that this was indeed happening. My cell phone was still dead. There was a long line of people standing at a payphone. We did this a number of times between the time of impact and collapse.

While we were inside, NBC radio announced that one of the towers was collapsing. Incredulous, we dashed out into the street to watch, but by the time we got out there, all we saw was an enormous mushroom cloud of smoke and destruction. My coworked just collapsed into tears, just thinking about how many people had just died. I felt as if thousands of souls had just smashed themselves thru my body. I watched in horror, waiting for the smoke to clear, just so I could see how much was remaining. It seemed like forever for the smoke to clear, and as it got clearer and clearer, I became increasingly shocked to see that there was NOTHING visible left. No support beams, no infrastructure, nothing. I decided I was going to wait in line at that payphone and put myself in contact with a number of people probably waiting to hear from me, starting with my girlfriend.

It took me another 20 mintues before I could get my hands on some change and get my turn at the phone. I called her , she was immediately relieved to hear my voice. I told her that I was ok and that I was going to wait for the director to arrive before I left, because I couldn't just disappear without letting people know. She told me that my mom and sister had already called our apartment looking for me. I told her that I was leaving as soon as possible, and to let everyone know I was ok. I hung up the phone and went back to the studio. We listened to more and more news, waiting for others to arrive.

Around half past 10, the director arrived. We all just sort of stood around; I watched them smoke cigarettes (as I had just quit 2 weeks prior, lucky me!) and fret for a bit before they decided officially that we were cancelling the shoot. Dave, the director and cameraman, did some filming before we left.

No public transportation was functioning at this point, not that I wanted to be crammed into a bus or subway car in this state of chaos. It appeared as though I was walking home, at least 3 miles. As I walked home, I saw more of the same chaos...people covered in soot, people crying, cars cops and medical vehicles travelling the wrong way down one-way streets. I found myself walking past St. Vincent's Trauma Center, the closest trauma center to the WTC, and discovered more chaos. I had to stop and get some water, to call my gf and let her know I was walking home. More lines at payphones, more people just littering the street in disbelief.

The rest of the walk home was truly bizarre. Commonly disregarding New Yorkers were greeting each other and saying hello, actually looking into each others eyes as if to search for humanity any chance they could. I walked alongside a Latino riding his bike and told him to be wary of his tap water getting tainted with biological agents. There's no telling what's coming next, I thought. After all, if the WTC could have planes slamming into it and collapse, nothing would surprise me.

It took me well over an hour to get home. After walking several miles and up 5 flights of stairs, I embraced m girlfriend tightly and sat down in front of the TV so that I could finally see what everyone else in America saw. The impact, the collapse...I had dozens of e-mails already waiting for me, people all over wondering if I was alright. I had many phone calls to make. I had to proceed in changing my entire perspective on everything...

Welcome to the brave new world.

Mark A. DeCheser | 28 | New York

#1497 | Friday, July 26th 2002
I was about 2 blocks away, very much near the NYSE. Our main offices are located accross the river in Jersey City, NJ. A colleague called to ask if we knew what just happened at the trade center, we all thought he was pulling our leg. A few minutes later we heard a tremendous roar of a jet engine, and then a deafening crash, a noise that I will never forget.. The second plane.. Most of our team was not there that day, we wanted to leave to see if we could help, but we had responsibilities to stay and be at work for the stock markets open, one that never ocurred.. As we watched everything unfold on the tv, we could only imagine the loss of life that we were witnessing, it was a very sad day.
We felt a rumble, like a train was directly under us, the building shook like there was an earthquake, then total darkness and smoke billowing in every window crack. We did what we could to cover our mouth, most of the men in the office ripped parts of their shirts for the women to use as barriers for the smoke and grit we were breathing. In retrospect, being inside was the safest place for us to be, wouldn't have wanted to been outside when the towers came down..
We were finally able to leave around noon time, we were being evacuated because of a bomb scare at the exchange. Walking out the door to see inches and inches of debris on the street, my heart sank. The worst part of the whole experience for me was writing emails to my Mom, telling here to reach my wife, tell her I Love her and I hope to make it out of there alive, no one knew what our destiny was that day.
When I finally got home that night around 4pm, I finally lost it when I fell into my wifes arms. To this day, I still have nightmares of that day, still wondering how the people on the upper floors chose to take their own life instead of suffer in the smoke, how they felt when the towers went down, how those fearless firefighters and police officers felt, some knowing they would never see their families again.
I see things differently now, truely respect and cherish everything much more than before the 11th. My heart goes out to the families of those 3000+ heroes lost that day... God bless them and may we never see another day like that one...

Thomas L. | 32 | New York

#1495 | Thursday, July 25th 2002
Where was I? I live 2 hours north of New York City...I was working on the computer when I heard on the TV something about a plane crashing into the world trade center. As I looked in disbelief, I thought to myself what a tragic accident...then shortly later another plane crashed into the second world trade center. I was then furious and knew immediately that this was not accident. As the building collapsed I lost my station I was watching due to the antenna on the second trade center was the signal for the station. I scrambled to find another station. I called my wife at work, we all were worried,and unable to continue working for the rest of the week glued to the TV to capture every final detail of what happened, who did it and why. I am still to this day, like many people near and far, mad at those who did this.
Scott | 34 | New York

#1489 | Thursday, July 18th 2002
Hi, I live in Queens, NY and I was a junior in High School. I was just leaving my 3rd period class when i overheard a teacher say to my teacher that all of manhattan is closed, and a plane hit one of the twin towers. First I didn't think much of it, i thought it was just hear-say. When i arrived at my 4th period class, my computer teacher was looking for a cd player w/radio to hook up into the computers, so we can all listen to the news. Kids dictated from their walkmans what was happening. "Tower 1 was hit, Tower 2 was hit, Trains are closed, The Pentagon was hit, Tower 2 collapsed, Tower 1 collapsed. They're gone, They're really gone!" I was shocked, but still, the reality didn't really set in yet. Walking to my 5th period class, I saw my friends crying and heard them tell teachers "my dad works in one of the towers!" I felt really sad. My last class of the day, History, was the worst class ever... it felt like it was 10 hours long. We sat in silence the whole period. Girls in my class said they're mothers worked on the 76th floor, and near the site. There was nothing we can do, and it hurt. I realized, my aunt works in the towers. I was suppose to intern there for her one summer. Tears built up in my eyes but i held them back. Sitting in that class for 42 minutes was so crushing. Silence is what killed me the most. Finally the sound of the bell. I rushed outside and across the street to call my mom and my boyfriend. As I was heading outside, so many parents were waiting in the lobby for their children. At the phones, I couldn't hold in my tears any longer. I went hysterical. My sister brought me home, and I ran into my mothers arms. They told me that my aunt didn't go to work that day. I cried and cried. My mother calmed me down a little, but then I saw what has happened on TV. The second plane crashing into the Tower. My hysterics began again. Seeing this plane go so fast and then BOOM stop in a building was horrifying. I thought of all the people that were killed, how many families were now hurt. I felt such a pain in my heart, I really did. I hated the fact that there was nothing I could do... I'm underaged and can't donate blood, or volunteer, it just hurt badly. Later on that evening, my sister told me that my aunt had gone to work and she just got home now (it was around 4 p.m.) I was shocked, I thought she was home. My mom got off the phone with my aunt and she told me what she said. "She was on the 34th floor of the second tower. She left when she heard the first plane hit. The firefighters told her to return to the floor where they were and that the building was secure. She didn't listen and her and a bunch of others ran like hell out of there. It took her around 15 minutes to get out. She saw the second plane hit. She said that it was raining bodies, and that she had to jump over dead people, and try to avoid being hit by body parts." I thought this was terrible. Later that day, I sat in my front yard and looked at the pink sky that was over the park trees. There was a huge black cloud of smoke within the pink sky. It was sad. That night was the hardest. All night long you heard ambulences and police sirens, and you knew exactly where they were going. I kept the news on for most of the night, in hope that they would find people in the collapsed towers. I hoped and prayed that they would find thousands of people, but thats all they were...hopes and prayers. I could barely sleep that night. Images of the footage on TV of the second plane crashing into the building, and of people jumping from the buildings were all that played over and over and over in my mind. I cried, for that was all I could do. I felt the pain of families losing people they loved. I wish this day had never happened. Being young and dealing with this tragedy was very hard for me. I've never felt so patriotic or such a proud New Yorker. I'll never forget this day... I'll never forget where i was, or who i was with. I pray that justice be done to those that planned this. I pray for the families that lost their innocent relatives and friends. I feel that everyone's lives have been affected, especially those from NY, PA, and WA. God Bless America... Land that I Love...
Victoria | 17 | New York

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