#226 | Tuesday, October 30th, 2001
I thought it wasnít real when I first heard what happened. I was listening to the radio on my way to school and heard about a plane crash into some building. I was too much in my own world to register what the words meant. I had a humanities test that day and was late for my nutrition class so I decided to skip and study for the test. I sat down in one of the chairs in the alcoves of the buildings and saw the TV on. They were discussing the first plane crash and all of a sudden the announcers got a panic in their voices. Another plane had crashed into the second building. Showing footage like that is not an image I will ever be able to get out of my mind. I didnít believe it at first. There was no way I could study now. I kept watching the TV in complete disbelief. It couldnít be real...so many people dead. I didnít and still donít know anyone in New York. My best friend goes to NYU, but sheís spending the semester in Florence and I thanked God for that. I know NYU isnít close to the WTC, but I was still relieved she wasnít even in the city. Whether I knew someone or not in NYC, I cried. I I couldnít believe certain individuals would want to hurt so many innocent people. Monsters was the first word that came to mind. How could anyone human do such a thing? I still cry every once in awhile, because of the coverage still shown and thinking about all the friends and family lost. Thereís still people killing each other, except itís the USA this time. Regardless if weíre attacking terrorists itís still human lives. I know that not many people understand my way of thinking. I am completely against terrorism, but I really canít give an alternative other then what weíre doing now. I just believe thereís too much killing.
Walela | 20 | Oklahoma

#227 | Wednesday, October 31st, 2001
I AM IN THE US NAVY AND ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 I WAS AT WORK ON MY SHIP IN VA. WHEN WE ALL FOUND OUT ABOUT THE ATTACKS, MY SHIP WAS SORTIED OUT TO SEA AMONG ALL THE OTHER SHIPS OF THE FLEET. IT WAS A ROUGH FEW WEEKS WHILE WE WERE OUT TO SEA NO TKNOWING WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT. TO SAY THE LEAST, I AM FROM NYC AND I WANTED TO KNOW THAT MY FAMILY WAS OK BUT I COULDN'T KNOW THAT. THERE WAS NO EMAIL, PHONES, NOTHING WHILE WE WERE OUT THERE. IT WAS VERY DISTURBING AND WE WERE ALL ON HIGHEST ALERT FOR OUR NEXT MISSION; WHATEVER THAT MAY HAVE BEEN. WE ARE STILL ON ALERT TO THIS DAY AND WE WILL BE FOR A WHILE. I WANT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO KNOW THAT THE US MILITARY IS READY TO WIN THIS WAR AGAINST OUR ENEMIES.
LISA DAVIDSON | 22 | Virginia

#228 | Thursday, November 1st, 2001
i was sitting at home, on the computer. my fiancť had come home to grab a lunch when his father came upstairs and was like "hey Bruce...did you hear? a plane just crashed into the WTC..." then his brother yelled up..."there's another one!" i ran inside and turned the TV on, just in time to see the recap of the 2nd plane... it was so sickening i sat there in numb silence. about 5 minutes later i hear that one hit the pentagon. i couldn't say a word. by then Bruce had gone back to work. about a half hour later he comes back in and gives me this huge hug and kisses me. i just looked at him dumbfounded and asked "what was that for?" all he said was "i just needed to come home and reassure myself you were alirght and to tell you i love you." i was so touched. i immediately called my family back home. (i live 1600+ miles from them all). they were all so scared because i "live so colse" as they said, when in actuality i live about 3 states away.
Tracie | 20 | Maine

#229 | Thursday, November 1st, 2001
I was preoccupied about as I stepped onto Church Street. I looked at my watch. It was 8:47AM and I was thinking about the day ahead. I was 17 minutes late for work. I saw one of my coworkers just ahead of me about to cross Church Street in front of the World Trade Center. I was about to call to her when a deafening roar made everyone in the plaza look up.

We stood in shock as the first plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center, 1WTC. Then there was a thunderous concussion and fire ball and everyone was screaming and running from falling glass, metal and debris. And the burning bodies and parts of bodies though we didn't realize what they were at that moment.

The force of the impact was tremendous. Some of the debris rocketed clear through the tower hitting the buildings across Liberty Street two blocks south. We huddled with a mass of people under the overhang of 4 World Trade Center as burning paper, insulation and pulverized glass swirled around us like confetti.

At first we weren't sure if it was a plane because it came so suddenly out of the north over the Bank of New York building. We thought it was a missile. We'd gotten less than a block away when we saw the second plane banking in from the south like a jet fighter heading toward 2 WTC.

It crash into the south tower sending out a fireball that looked even bigger than the first. This one propelled glass and metal into the screaming crowds below. Police cars and fire trucks all along Liberty Street were burning and exploding. Thousands of people tried desperately to get away. Not everyone did. Firemen and police rushed in to help the injured. I saw firefighters pouring out of the Liberty street station pulling on their jackets as they ran towards the Trade Center across the street.

Thousands of pigeons took to the air moments before the second plane impacted. They must have been spooked by the fire in 1WTC or by the noise of the second jet. These birds were flashed burned in flight by the fireball and hundreds of smoking birds fell all around us. It rained dead pigeons.

The Twin Towers cast a shadow over the width of Manhattan. I think every one of us was thinking the same thing. How far and how fast do you have to run to get away from them if they topple? Hundreds of thousands of people live, work and visit that area. The narrow twisted streets are already jammed with people and emergency vehicles. Where do you go?

Too many images of horror to comprehend or describe. People leaping hundreds of feet to their death choosing to die that way instead of burning. The feelings of helplessness. It's much bigger than anyone can think about. Much bigger than any one of us. It just didn't seem like it could be real. But the firefighters were real. They guided us to safety and then... they went back in!

I saw not one act of heroism but dozens. The courage of the New York Fire Department, of the Police and even ordinary people that day defies description. Unbelievable courage. It makes my heart sick to hear that many of those brave people I saw just this morning won't be going home. I want those heroes to be remember. The men and women of New York Fire Department, Police Department and the Port Authority workers who defied the overwhelming odds against them trying to save as many as they could. They shouldn't go unremarked. They were our finest and they shined like stars in that moment.

I was stuck in a group of several hundred people one block from the Trade Center when building 2 collapsed. We tried running till the choking wall of debris overwhelmed us. I took a running dive between two parked cars to shield myself and landed on top of someone already there. Over the roar of the building falling I could hear chunks of concrete and metal ricochet off the street hitting cars and breaking windows all around.

I've experienced mortal fear. Near misses and car accidents narrowly avoided. Moments of panic. But not like this. In those minutes I was sure I was going to die. Absolutely sure.

But again there were the firefighters and police leading us to safety.

I heard later that the collapse registered a 2.6 on seismographs hundreds of miles away. I don't doubt it. It was a sound that filled the world.

I couldn't see a thing. Maybe I was in shock. I don't know. My head hurt. I put my hand up to my forehead and it came away sticky with blood.

Somewhere in there I lost a shoe. I don't remember much about the minutes afterward except that each breath hurt. I found my way out by sound and touch. Except for some coughing and a few distant sirens there was nothing. No sounds near by except my own raspy breathing and something that sounded like crickets. I never found out what that sound was. I made it to City Hall Park somehow and began the long walk away from the area. I got out before the second building collapsed.

New Yorkers are famous for their cynicism but I saw many acts of kindness and compassion. People who's lives intersected for only moments but I won't forget any of them.

- The bloody bike messenger still wearing his satchel helping an elderly woman covered in ash find her way back home.

- The teenage girl with purple hair who helped a woman carry her small child many blocks to safety.

- The half dozen people acting as a self appointed escort to a wheelchair bound man helping to lift him over the rubble.

Total strangers helping each other. All of us trying to make sense of this overwhelming tragedy.

I was walking with a young Hispanic man named Rafael who worked in 2WTC. We'd never met before and we were both covered head to foot it that awful gray soot. We looked like identical ghosts. Rafael told me that he didn't think anyone in his office had made it out. "They were too high up", he told me, his voice cracking with emotion.

We walked together for a few hours making our way uptown talking in little bits about what we'd seen. A group of us formed by ones and two's. It was unspoken but we somehow decided to throw our lots together. Store owners along the walk handed us towels and water and sat injured people down in the shade to minister to them.

An exodus of thousands moved out of lower Manhattan. Some left on foot over the Brooklyn Bridge while the rest just headed north away from the devastation. There was no public transport. All of the roads were blocked by emergency vehicles screaming south, some going the wrong way down one way boulevards. All of the other bridges and tunnels out of Manhattan were sealed. There were few working telephone lines out of the city and cell phones were just about useless. We still had no idea what truly had happened - especially those of us who had narrowly escaped the building collapse. Every few blocks we'd stop by a truck or a taxi cab that had a radio on.

Terrorists had struck in Washington too. Some reports said that there were 3 planes hijacked. Other reports put the number at 5.

Rafael gave me his new sneakers out his gym bag when he saw that my feet were bleeding. "Lucky thing we both have big feet," he said. Those of us with cell phones would try and if we got through we would ask the person at the other end to pass along messages to the other peoples families. I will probably never see any of them again but that day everyone in that city of millions became a family. It was astonishing and it is what I hope to carry forward from that day after the horror fades. I hope that's what carries us all forward through the dark days ahead. I hope that's what will unite us all. I hope people will not forget.

Rafael and I parted at 34th Street when I turned west to try the ferry and Rafael walked north to try to get to his family uptown. I hope that he did and that they are all safe. I'll probably never know.

Thousands and thousands of New Jersey bound commuters waited in lines along the Westside Highway to be taken off Manhattan. A flotilla of boats waited in turns to transport us across the Hudson. Ships from NY Waterways, Circle Line Tours and even US Coast Guard vessels were taking people across. We passed the injured and disabled to the front of the line to go first. Nobody complained. Everyone cooperated.

It was 4:00 PM when I arrived at Hoboken Station. Seven and a half hours had passed since the first plane hit.

Triage. People in Tyvek haz-mat suits hang cards around our necks, marking off body parts on a butchers chart. Red, green or yellow cards. I get a green bordered card which meant that I got to go home. Red cards did not. The US National Guard and the Hoboken Fire Department used high pressure hoses and decontamination showers to clean us up. We joke with the Firemen about getting our fully clothed unplanned baths. They probably heard the same lame jokes several hundred times before the day ended. Thousands of people crowd the street next to the station. Most overwhelmed with grief and confused in what was a bustling commuter station only a few hours earlier. Nightmare. I just can't convey the scale adequately. Just not real. Behind us across the river a mushroom cloud towered miles over our heads.

Sitting in a train half empty on the ride home I'm thinking that this could not have happened. There is no conversation. The conductor takes one look at my face and doesn't ask for my ticket. A simple thing like that brought the gravity home to me. I don't know how I feel yet. I ache all over. We pass by station after station and see local volunteers waiting with blankets and coffee for people who never arrive.

I get off at my stop and look at the cars still in the parking lot. I wondered who wouldn't be coming back for them. If I'd been on time for work I might not be getting into my car to go home to my family. Many of the people I know or maybe had seen just that morning wouldn't be going home ever. People who's only fault was going to work that day. I'm heartbroken for them all. Every one of them and their loved ones who would go on waiting.

I don't want to think about it. I don't want to but I do. I know that I can't remember what I was so worried before 8:45AM this morning. It was probably trivial but I want that time back with all of my heart.
Joe Hanley | 40 | New Jersey

#230 | Friday, November 2nd, 2001
I was in school when it happened. I'm in junior high school, so it seemed to be a regular day of homework and tests. I had a test that period when my teacher came in to tell us the news. She had just heard it from another teacher during our "recess" period and told us right away that we had been attacked. And most of all, I'll never forget the class before - a history class where my teacher said, just before the bell rang, we were a small world -- saying this just minutes before everything changed.
Jane | 14 | Massachusetts

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