#539 | Wednesday, December 19th 2001
I was at schools when it happened. The teachers weren't allowed to tell us, probably because I am only in 5th grade. We went the whole day without suspecting a thing. When I got home, my dad was sitting watching the TV. I knew something was wrong because of the serious, grave look he had on his face. I said, "What happend?" He said nothing. So I sat down and watched the TV. Again and again the tape of the crashes played again and again. When my mom got home, she didn't talk much. We got calls from all my friends and relatives, asking if everyone was ok. That night, we called a zillion people. When George W. Bush addressed the people, it was the first time I ever saw my mom cry. I am deeply saddend by the events, and hope that everyone who was affected is ok. God Bless America.

P.S. On a lighter tone, my friend's dad worked at the WTC, and survived. Unfortunately, he had pieces of glass and metal in his head. He said that Juliani would be after him! LOL!!! (Cause you aren't allowed to take anything from the WTC)

Claire | 11 | New Jersey

#535 | Wednesday, December 19th 2001
I live in NJ but I came into the city September 10th for a Yankees/Sox game. (Yanks rule!) The game was rained out and my sister and I stayed with a friend at Columbia that night. We were to take the 9:00 bus home that morning of the 11th because I had to go home to pack for the drive to school in NH that day. We were in the Port when the planes actually hit. As we boarded the bus, I received a call from my dad on my cell phone. The coverage was breaking up but I could make out "Something terrible....World Trade Center..plane crash....not be able....get out...city." My first thoughts were it was an accident but as the bus pulled out onto the ramp, I saw the massive brown mass clouding the crystal blue sky obstructing the view of lower Manhattan. I could hear much activity going on the bus driver's radio. When I heard,” The first one's gone," that’s when I realized it was no accident from a tiny 4-person Cessna. We approached the Lincoln Tunnel but it had been sealed off for fear that it would be the next target. Our bus driver then stopped the bus and stood up.
"We've been attacked, we're under full terrorist alert. We can't leave the city” he said as he searched for words. Nobody quite understood the severity of the situation.
“I have to make a call!!! It’s urgent!” an elderly woman several rows behind me shrieked.
“I’m sure we all have people to call but all phone lines are down.” He said trying to reassure her. The bus was abuzz as we drove around in circles. Finally, we returned to the port and were told to stay on the bus. “NO!” my sister whispered to me. “We will get off this bus, we’re not going to stay anywhere where there are people” she ordered. Her being 5 years older I listened. I was just in a state of disbelief and confusion, this was a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from. We got off the bus and ran through the Port Authority building to the street. The taxi line was about 20 people long, everyone frantically dialing cell phones, some crying, some just standing in disbelief trying to absorb everything. A vendor nearby turned on a radio and a group gathered around and sat on the sidewalk together as they listened to the events unfold. People on the streets gave each other mutual shoulders to cry on and just tried to understand together. We stood on the line for taxis but every car was racing uptown to get further away. But one stopped at the end of the line, a good-hearted cabbie that saw two lost teenaged girls.
We went back uptown to our friend’s apartment. It was then that it hit me, when the radio spurted out the words “terrorist” and “Osama bin Laden.” A person had intentionally done this. That name sounded so cold, so heartless. Our cabbie tried and tried to get in touch with his wife. He finally got through. The relief in her voice as she sobbed hysterically into the phone brought tears to my eyes. How many thousands of people weren’t as lucky as her? The pain was unconceivable.
Once we reached our destination we bid our cabbie farewell and thanks and turned on a TV. I saw the most horrific sights in my life, The amateur footage of the second plane flying into the tower, the deluge of the towers collapsing, and the ghost-like lower Manhattan with people blanketed with debris running for their lives are images forever ingrained into my memory. I spent the rest of that day watching the television hoping to find an answer, some kind of explanation justifying the horror. The usually composed Peter Jennings broke down on the air. It was all of us. We tried to be strong but the tears came penetrating through. This was unlike anything that had ever happened to our generation. It was a day that all of us would remember forever. I couldn't sleep that I night. I stayed awake and listened to the roar of the low flying fighter jets as they circled Manhattan.

Ash | 15 | New Jersey

#476 | Thursday, December 13th 2001
I was at work. At around 9:15am, my mother phoned me very upset, she told me that the World Trade Center had been hit by 2 planes. My whole chest felt as if it had caved in. One of my closest and dearest friends worked for Cantor-Fitzgerald. He had been there during the 1993 bombing. He was there on Sept 11th as well, just returned from vacation the week before as a matter of fact. I was planning on calling him during lunch to see how it had gone. His marriage was not going well at all, and I was hoping he had had a good time, made some progress...I could barely speak when I heard the news.

I snapped on all the radios in the office. Everyone gathered around as we listened to what was happening. I work for a construction company, so a lot of the guys were trying to make light of it. But when the third plane hit the Pentagon...all nervous humor ended abruptly.

I tried calling my friend, Steve, on his cell...of course I could not get through. I needed to know something. I could not call his wife, she did not know of our friendship. We had been friends for over 20 years and he didn't think she would understand, so his wish was not to tell her (yes, I disagreed), but it was his way of protecting our relationship...we were very close and had survived a lifetime of changes. But because of his choice here, I had no one to call. Then out of nowhere, I remembered the address where he grew up. His mother still lived there. I quickly dialed information, got her number and called her immediately.

She knew right away who I was, and though I hadn't seen her in 18 years, it was like we just spoke yesterday. She had heard nothing. I asked if I could call her later and if she would let me know if she hears anything...I gave her my number and I let her go in case someone was trying to call her.

Then, glued to the radio, it was announced that the towers were collapsing. That was it, I crumbled, knowing there was no way in hell anyone could survive that. I didn't have to see it on the television...I knew...it was done and Steve was gone. He was on the 103rd floor. Back in 1993, he told me it took him 3 hours to get out of that building. The girls in the office came running in, knowing I had a close friend that worked there. They just kept holding me and stuffing tissues in my hand. It was awful. I was not comfortable there, I didn't know my co-workers very well.

My boss, another long-time friend of mine wasn't in the office. She called in, a few minutes later in a panic, just finding out herself. She knew Steve as well. I had taken her to his house years ago when we were in college together. She was a wreck.

We left work early and I went home to watch the whole thing on the news. I just couldn't believe my eyes...the devastation, the immense loss...the absolute terror all those thousands of people must have felt. So many. I just sat there numb, not really believing what I was seeing...it was like a movie, so surreal. Seeing this in this country was something I never thought would happen. Each replay of the attack felt like I was being shot in the heart.

I checked in with Steve's mother every day. On Thursday, 2 days after the attack...I cracked, I wasn't ready to mourn, I wasn't ready to let go of hope yet. I couldn't fight it anymore. This man who had been an intregal part of more than half my life was gone...this man I cherished more than I even knew, was gone. I crashed heavily. I almost couldn't bear the pain. And even then, I would continuously check the survivor sites, to see if he would pop up. And out of nowhere, there was his name...loud and clear on a site people were using without confirmation...like someone saw him wandering around and submitted his name to say he was okay.

I was completely ELATED. I immediately phoned his mother...no one answered. Naturally, I felt they had heard and were off to NYC to get him. So, I waited, and watched the news...hearing more and more how Cantor-Fitzgerald was the hardest hit, how some of the survivor sites could not be trusted. I began to get nervous. I tried calling her again and a friend of hers answered, they had heard nothing...and saw his name as well on the list. My heart plunged again. I was done...and exhausted. From that point on, I was leveled out. I couldn't rock n roll like that anymore.

For the next few weeks, I mourned my dear friend slowly, little by little...lighting candles for him, talking to him at night before bed...remembering all he meant to me, writing, drawing...working the pain away. I spoke to his mother, who is a Saint, she validated me...listened and shared with me. My admiration of her goes beyond words. My heart goes out to his daughter, she will never know the pure soul of her father...his laugh, or his smile...the things that made him bigger than life, though I'm sure he passed them on to her.

I attended his memorial service. There were at least 1000 people there that he had touched in his life. And I was there knowing that there were hundreds of services going on for all of the people lost that day...so many souls taken in an instant. So many people mourning the loss, frightened about the future, furious over the cowardice and selfishness of the perpetrators of this vicious crime on humanity.

I will never forget that day...I feel it all the time, every time I see a photo of the Twin Towers, every time I think of him, see his phone number and email address that I can't seem to erase or delete, every time I see a Motorcross race on television, every time I think of my last moment with him. We hugged for a very long time...saying nothing...just holding eachother, knowing we'd be there for one another during the rough times and the good times till we grew old. We knew that, probably more than most married people know that...it was a unique relationship very few men and women have, though probably should. It was the purest I had ever known and probably will never have again.

He told me once the next lifetime would be ours...and that we won't pass it by again. I wonder about this often, and feel that when I face my own death, it will give me comfort to know he will be there for me, as he always had been throughout my life...and me for him. He has always been my Light.

Peace, Steve ~ I Love you, all ways.

Danielle | 36 | New Jersey

#470 | Wednesday, December 12th 2001
Where to start? It's almost like it never happened, whenever I think of it. I had just hopped off of the PATH train which runs from Newark, NJ to the station underneath the World Trade Center. It was about 8:40am on 9/11. I normally don't go into the city on a weekday, but I was taking a training class for work for the whole week and decided on commuting instead of staying in the city. I walked out from the underground mall, thinking that I should stop by one of the stores on my way back and buy some clothes for myself. So much for that thought. I stepped out onto Church St after getting out of the complex and felt good. It was a warm, fall day, and everyone seemed to be in a good mood.. or maybe it was just me. I had only walked a couple of blocks south of the towers when I noticed everyone around me looking up. I was thinking it was unusual, since these were all commuters, and didn't necessarily look up all at once. I turned and looked up behind me to find the north tower in flames, smoke billowing out, and financial papers littering the streets around me like a ticker tape parade. I stared in disbelief, hearing everyone on cell phones around me reporting of terrorists in planes. It was then I realized, I had forgotten my cell phone, and nobody that I loved knew exactly where I was at the time. I bolted for my training class and reported what had happened, when a few minutes later on the 11th floor, we heard, and felt the second plane go by our building, on its way into the south tower. We spent the next 10-20 minutes calling our loved ones to report that we were safe. Not knowing exactly where safe was, and trying not to panic, we tried to resume class even though nobody could concentrate. Our class contemplated the buildings collapsing because of the fire, while staring at the Internet news sites from our classroom. The thought was too much to bear. Then we heard and felt the most horrific thing I could ever feel in my life. Our building shook while the lights flickered and the computers rebooted as the first tower came crashing down. I could only think of the people caught up in all that mess at that very moment. It was then, we decided to evacuate. Me and a few other classmates met in the first floor lobby, where they would not let us out because of the stifling smell and thick air from the debris. It looked like it was snowing, and was dark. I watched as countless people took flight, trying to escape the choking air just outside our doors. Some were smart enough to come in, while others tried to bear it and run further south. I huddled in a huge marble doorway asking myself if I was to die there. After we heard confirming reports from witnesses that the building had collapsed, we heard about the Pentagon, then the second building collapsed, and darkness fell outside again. Some of the workers in our building tried to convince us that it was safe to go back up to our floors, but not me. No way. When the air cleaned up somewhat, a few of us bolted to out instructer's hotel room around the corner where we would clean up, and get in touch with our loved ones again. I just wanted to be home. I talked with some who said the best thing to do was sit tight, but not me. I promised myself and everyone I loved I would be home that night. So myself and two others migrated as thousands did, away from the area. We walked 2 straight hours to Times Square. Eventually, we caught a ride with my classmates' team leader who happened to have a car. We took the GW bridge out of the city, and they were even kind enough to drop me off at my front doorstep in central Jersey. On the way, I glanced behind me to watch the third building collapse. All the way home, we could see the line of smoke the towers had created from burning all day. It lined the Jersey coast, and I could even see it at home. I left my car at the train station that night, but to walk through my front door and hug my boyfriend at 7:30pm that night was well worth it. For awhile, I jumped at everything and was very paranoid. I hit bottom a few weeks later, and it's only been uphill for me since then. I still think about the people and their families. But most of all, I think about this country and how we are going to win this war to come out on top of all the tragedy. I love you all from NYC to the USA to the world. We all deserve to live free and happy.
Victoria | 27 | New Jersey

#434 | Monday, December 10th 2001
I was at work, doing my "morning routine" when my boss came in frenzied because a plane had hit one of the twin towers. We found a small black and white TV and watched channel 7, NYC broadcast the events. Then we lost transmission. We quickly changed to a UHF station. I'm an EMT in NJ so we discussed if I would have to leave work. When the second plane hit, he looked at me and said simply, "bye!" The towers fell during our transit to Liberty State Park. I spent the next 14 hours down there.
Rich Malizia | 33 | New Jersey

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