#157 | Tuesday, September 25th 2001
The Day of Destruction.
11 September 2001 - 4:01 p.m.
"On a quiet day, the kind that makes you think you are happy to be alive...you know the kind: it is sunny, not to hot, you caught all the trains, and busses, and got to work on time. You settled down to one of the best cups of coffee you have had in a long time.
Then the sky started falling. Who said it could never happen???"

I have been trying to get online for 6 hours now. Two of my homes have been attacked.

If I had gotten on earlier, I thought it may be the last entry I may have ever written.

At 9:02 AM, I got in my car to move it into my driveway. I got in later than expected last night [drinking] and needed to go pick up a b-day gift for a co-worker. I decided to go in late this morning to do it. Today is his birthday.

I heard the DJ say something about Kamikazee planes flying into the World Trade Center. 8 blocks from where my father works (in a windowless building no less...that you can see in the press coverage).

I ran inside to see it on TV. I called my friend here in DC, who is from NY. We cried. I got off the line to try my dad. No calls would go through. "All Circuts are now busy!" Little did I know he was trying to call me and the operator message was something to the effect of a tornado knocked the lines down (long time since they last changed that one, no?)

I got nervous so went to pee. ***BAM!***. I nearly shit my pants. A huge kabloom! I finished and went outside. There was my neighbor with the dog that broke his back a while ago, throwing shit into her car trunk. I lit a smoke.

She yelled across the street at me, "the Pentagon has been hit [we live in Pentagon City...3 minutes away], I know about this stuff [she worked in the Pentagon on Chemical Weapons], get out...leave the house." She then drove off with doggie, who was oblivious that the US was under attack.

I finally got in touch with my dad. He is fine. I immediately grew less tense. I filled him in on what neighbor said. He said call out of work and not to move. If anything go into *new* downstairs neighbor's apartment [our basement].

Neighbor drove back and told me that she heard on the CB radio that there was another plane 20 miles away. unidentified. Coming full speed. I had 10 minutes...

I called work in that I could not get off my block. I went back outside and saw bellows of smoke. Sirens blaring. My boss said not to worry. I called a friend in the Press Office who was hysterical as well. She said they were letting all non-essential workers home. 20 minutes later, all Federal employees were sent home.

I called another friend who I just drove back up to NY, knowing she would be worried. While on the phone with her, 3 people approached me, charred and coughing. They were Pentagon employees. They were going to the "Pack up and GO!" neighbor's house. I said she was gone already. I asked if they needed anything. I hung up the phone, and handed it over. They were shaken. 2 women and one gentleman (a major). Their cell phones were dead. It took about 4 tries to get through anywhere. I offered them water. And asprin. And beer and cigarettes. They were took it all. They were stranded. The Metro closed down, there were no cabs.

They kept calling me their savior. And told me I have a free tour of the Pentagon whenever I wanted. They left 2 hours later, when they heard buses were running to another Metro area. I gave them all my number and told them to call me when they got in. Val Denise and David. I will never forget the three strangers I let into my house. Who I helped and who helped me. They all got home safely.

My dad called a total of 20+ times. My phone kept ringing. Friends in NY-- crying. My relatives, as few as there are. More so my father. Nervous about me. Still [even now at 4P] stuck in his windowless building. Stranded.

I got in touch with my girlfriend. I had first left message. I don't remember the time. Then she called. I knew she was nervous but I assured her I was fine. As did the 3 of the Pentagonees. I told her to go to class and not to worry.

She called back to let me know school was closing, classes were cancelled, and that she was coming over. I figured it best, as anything going away (south) from DC was packed. Coming in (north) was not too bad. Aside from all these streets being closed around me. I am glad she did come...and got here safely

I may not even get home, a trip I planned for a month. Even if I did, I would not see the Twin Towers anymore. The place I went on my first real date. The second tallest buildings in the U.S. The World Trade Center, no longer standing. Thousands of innocent people. Going to work. Like every other day. Except it's not. It is the last day they would get to work.

People may have died at the Pentagon. I can look out the window and still see the smoke.

I am watching TV...ABC News. Grim, very Grim. Horrifying.

Two of my homes were destroyed today. I am just glad everyone I know is ok, as selfish as it is.

Thousands dead....for no reason at all.

jenne1017 | 24 | District of Columbia

#122 | Friday, September 21st 2001
7:45am (Central): I was asleep on my apartment balcony in the middle of a big city.
I had pitched my small tent on my balcony the night before, a beautiful Texas night with lows in the 60s. It was my way of saying, "Even though I live in a city, I won't abide by urban conventions!"
I awoke at 8:12 to the distant sound of my phone inside. Unable to reach it in time (and not really caring to), I let it go unanswered. At 8:35am, another phone call. Once again, I did not answer.
But I did get up a minute later and look at the Call ID box. It was my sister. I lazily called her back, wondering what could be so important this early in the morning. As the phone rang, I noticed that the 8:12am call had been my father. "Isn't he in Chicago on a trip right now? Why would he be calling this early?"

"Hey, it's me."
"Have you turned on the television?! Do you know what's happening?"
"Uh, no... what's going on?"
"Oh my God, it's crazy. Planes have flown into the World Trade Center!"
"They're showing planes running into the World Trade Center. It's completely crazy. It's all live."
"Okay, I'll go turn it on. Did you talk to dad? He had called me."
"Yeah, he's okay. Go turn on the TV. Oh my gosh, they're saying there was just an explosion at the Capitol."

Detached disbelief. That's what it was. As the TV tube warmed up, I saw an instant replay of a passenger jet slamming into a 110 story building.
I debated about whether to go to work or not (what if missiles were overhead? I work in a 5 story building... would it be a target?) Eventually, I chose to go to work.
Iíll never forget what happened as I pulled into the parking lot. The radio station I was listening to was carrying the live ABC video feed. Assuming that his audience would be seeing the video as well, he simply said, "And now, the World Trade Center is collapsing. Thereís really nothing that can be said. We can just watch." Then, complete dead air silence for 90 seconds. "This... is the worst thing I have ever seen. The World Trade Center has, effectively, just been destroyed." It was then that I let loose and cried for 5 minutes, sitting in my parked car.

It has now been 10 days, and I have not slept in my tent since. A small part of me is afraid to Ė somehow, that part of me feels irrationally vulnerable and exposed out there. But mostly, my partial motive for sleeping out there -- "My life is so 'terrible' because Iím imprisoned in this city apartment working my 9 to 5 job" Ė now seems unbelievably petty. My God, at least Iím alive. Facing an uncertain future, admittedly. But alive.

Bradley D. Garner | 24 | Texas

#99 | Wednesday, September 19th 2001
I was walking out my door to work when I saw the aftermath of the first plane impact on television. The trade center was damaged and burning, although from the angle shown on TV it didn't look as catastrophic as it turned out to be.

My mother immediately thought it was an act of terrorism, but I dismissed that theory.. I remember saying that usually it's the simplest explanation. I said it was either an accident or somebody committing suicide. I recalled a story about a Colorado Air Force pilot who stole an A-10 warthog and crashed into the side of a mountain.

As I drove to work, I tuned into News radio 88 out of New York. I was startled to hear eyewitness reports that it wasn't a small plane, but rather a jetliner.. Still I thought the eye witnesses must have been mistaken. How could they identify an aircraft after seeing it for just a split second?

Then the shocking news came across on the radio. The newscaster said 'wait a minute, was that another explosion?' And at that instant an eye witness who was being interviewed a few moments earlier broke in and said, 'NO IT'S ANOTHER AIRLINER. I JUST SAW IT FLY OVER MY APARTMENT AND IMPACT INTO THE OTHER TOWER!' The shear terror in that man's voice frightened me... I just passed the stop light just before my office. I was in total shock and disbelief. At that moment I realized our world was about to change dramatically.

My first question was how did these guys get these planes? I figured they must have leased them or something along those lines. The thought of hijacking a commercial airliner didn't even cross my mind.

All I could do throughout the day was listen to the radio and attempt to connect to the internet news media. I heard the news of the first tower collapse over the radio. I just couldn't imagine the destruction that was taking place both in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.. To be honest I was expecting to hear about more crashes and destroyed buildings.

I went through the rest of the day in disbelief.. How could they destroy the trade center? How could so many planes at so many different airports become compromised? Why didn't our government with its multibillion dollar intelligence gathering systems know about this? How could our airports be so insecure?

All I wanted to do was help, yet there was nothing I could do.

I didn't see the towers collapse until the later part of the evening when I came home from work. I was ANGRY.. Angry at the animals who planned and executed this, angry at our government for failing to stop a widespread and coordinated attack, and furious at our airlines for the farce they call security.

I then thought of the thousands of innocent people who probably lost their lives, and said a prayer for their families. I've lost friends to car accidents, but could not imagine losing a close loved one so suddenly at the hands of another group of people.

As we move forward from this terrible moment in history, I pray for those who lost their lives or their loved ones, and ask G-d to help us all get through these troubling times ahead. Hopefully we will not see more innocent bloodshed on either side.

Lon Seidman | 24 | Connecticut

#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

#83 | Tuesday, September 18th 2001
i was on my way to work listening to a CD, and i had not turned on any broadcasting station. my mother called me and told me both WTC towers had been hit by commercial airplanes and the pentagon is on fire. i immediately knew it was a coordinated attack. after i arrived at work i saw all three buildings on fire on ABC. its one of those things where either you don't beleive it or you know the whole world just took a change for the worst. lets all hope and pray that the victom's families find the strength to get through this and that only the perpetraitors and their accomplices be made to suffer as a result of this horrific tragedy.
christopher | 24 | Michigan

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