#2497 | Friday, September 13th 2002
Hello all, I'm a Union-Ironworker from Washington D.C. We are proud to say that we are the ones that were there installing the windows(blast-resistant) and structural fortifications to the pentagon that dissmal day. This is the first time I've shared this with anyone other then my family and collegues.
Well, I'm not very good at this because it still brings a tear to my eyes.First, I'm sure some of you know how close you can become with the people you've worked with all your career.(say some 27 years). You know, that was one of the most beautiful mornings. I remember that as I sat down to have my coffee on the curb with the guys. Then the noise of the plane clipping off the light poles, then the explosion as it hit the building. I can still hear my apprentice "Damn, someone crashed on the parkway" What else would a young man of 22 yrs. think? I knew the feeling in my stomach that it was a tremendous explosion from the concussion and the smell of diesel fuel.From experience, I knew to take cover from what might be another one.
To look around and see the expressions, that are burned in my memory,like the ones from childhood that you would see in scary movies.
Well, its kinda tuff talking about it, but we had a couple a guys that were working on the second floor about 60ft. from the center of impact that just happened to go to HomeDepot to get some things Rick needed for a home project. Rick and Joe were just coming into the parking lot when the plane hit the building. There was a brother, a steamfitter , that lost his life that day and another that was blown down one of the corridors. He got bruised and scuffed up a little bit.
To make a long story short, we all went to the union hall the next day and volunteered to aid the rescue workers in D.C. and New York city. All the men you seen with the cranes and cutting torches were all my brothers doing what we do best!
God, what would I give to set that man down in front of the men and women that were working in all of those buildings that day. The unsung heros!
Well, you all know shes about ready to open for business as usual,and we can all thank the labor force for those 60, 70, and sometimes 80 hr. weeks since 9/11/01 and you'll never know by looking at the pentagon that someone tried to destroy her.
Well, "GOD BLESS AMERICA" and all the brothers and sisters that built this great country!


Old Ironworker | 49 | District of Columbia

#2426 | Thursday, September 12th 2002
Today I spent the day at home, and deliberately did not watch TV. I drove out to Long Island on an errand and listened to the radio in the car. NPR had some interesting programs. Tonight I went to a commemorative program at my
synagogue.

The tragedy is never far from my mind, today and every day.

My apartment faces south on Houston Street and from every room I could see
the twin towers. I miss them. Not that I enjoyed the architecture, but I miss
the mood in that neighborhood. I remember walking by the towers every day, at least twice a day, when I worked downtown at different jobs. I remember seeing the rush of people exiting the PATH, subway and express busses. The vendors in the farmer's market, the paintball flyer guys in their flak jackets. I miss the smell of ambition and money in the air.

That day, I was walking the 1.5 miles to work, as usual, but I left a bit
later. Before I got to Canal Street, I looked up and saw a plane directly
overhead. "God, that plane is flying awfully low," I thought to myself. Then
I saw it enter 1 WTC.

I kept walking. Like an automaton. At Canal, I saw the laborers standing and
staring south at the building and the smoke. "I can't believe that building
is still standing," I said to someone near me. I had already seen a fire
truck racing past on Canal Street.

I headed down Church Street, debating "should I go in or go back, go in or go back" and plodding on my route. I worked at 130 Liberty Street, at Deutsche Bank, on the south side of the street of 2 WTC. I was at about Park Place when a crowd of people came rushing toward me, panicky, as if in a movie.

"Go to the park!" someone shouted, so I went east to City Hall Park, thinking
that if a building came down, or there was gunfire, there was more open space
there than on Church or Broadway.

Still I kept walking. Now I could see 2 WTC was on fire. I went to Nassau, to
get away from the crowds on Broadway. Should I call the office? People were
fiddling with their cell phones, but not one was working.

It was 9:30 and I was at Sym's on Trinity, a bit south of my office. I met two women from my department who told me the building was evacuated. (Amazing that I could meet anyone I knew in that crowd and chaos.)

"OK. That's it. You saw me here. I'm going home. Anyone want to come with me? I live a half-hour away." "No thanks, we'll wait it out here and see what to do." (They took the ferry to Staten Island and spent the night there at a colleague's house.)

I took the non-Broadway route back until I got to Worth Street. As I headed north on Broadway to Canal, I saw cars stopped in the street. Their doors were open, their windows were down. Their radios were blasting the all-news stations so everyone in the street could hear. People waited patiently in line at the phone booths. (How were they working?) Many, many people were heading uptown. At Canal, a policeman said the subways were working north of Canal, but by then I was 8 minutes from home.

When I entered the lobby of my apartment building, it was 10:00. Someone said the WTC had fallen. I walked out and looked. Sure enough, there was only one tower there.

At home, I had no phone service. I went to my computer and copied the email
addresses of my family members. I went to the library, logged on and sent an
email to my parents, siblings, husband and daughter at college: Subject "I'm
OK from Janet."

I told them in detail what I had seen. I waited for replies. After a while, I
received an email from my daughter. She had once visited my office and knew
exactly how close it was to the WTC. Then I heard from my sister. She called
my mother, who was talking to my brother, who worked on Hudson below Canal and somehow had cell phone service. The magic of call waiting united the three of them. They knew I was safe.

I gave my sister my husband's phone. I didn't know which would reach him
first, email or voice mail, since he goes in and out of the office when
teaching classes. Eventually, our daughter in high school got through to him and learned I was OK.

That night, 20 large dump trucks were parked on Houston Street near my
building. They were waiting for instructions. It was clear where they were headed.

In the morning, they were gone. I saw three workers in hard hats walking
south. "Are you going down there?" I asked. I didn't have to say where
"there" was. We all knew. They ondded. "Be careful."

What do I do differently?
Whenever I talk to my daughters at college on the phone, I tell them I love them before I hang up. You never know.

Janet | 49 | New York

#2385 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
I was teaching a computer class in midtown Manhattan, on 45th street. The class started at 9:00 am. I walked there from another building about 10 minutes to 9, unaware of what was already happening. The class started, and the door was closed. At 10:40 or so, having had a continuous session, I said: "Let's take a break," and opened the door. Immediately, people came in in a flurry. I work in a bank that had just gone through a merger, so there had been ongoing rumors of staff reductions, so when one guy came in, breathless, and asked: "Did you hear what happened?" I said no. He repeated the question, so I replied, with a little edge: "What, another round of layoffs?" And then he said: "No, the World Trade Center towers are gone."

I couldn't believe it, and we couldn't get any other information, but then I thought: I'm in a room with 40 computers all wired to the Internet! So someone found a site. For some reason, it was www.bbc.com, the British news organization. Already, it had 5 or 6 small digital pictures of the second plane going in, and the dust of the collapse. It was staggering.

The rest of the class got cancelled. And the rest of the day was just a lot of shock and bewilderment, and figuring out how to get home on the commuter railway.

The next day, I stayed home. Thursday, we came in again, but there was a bomb scare at noon, so I went home. On Friday, I felt ill and out of sorts, and stayed home.

I am Chinese, born in Indonesia, a naturalized US citizen since 1987. I have lived in different places, different cities. Until 9/11, I would not have gone out of my way to say I was a New Yorker (even though I have lived for 20 years here) or that I was "American": being a US citizen was an intellectual feeling, really. I was in Hong Kong for three years from 1992 and traveled around Asia on a US passport, but I looked at it as more of a convenience, not a nationality.

After 9/11, I found myself feeling strongly that New York was my home, and I started looking at the American flag a different way. I became "American" in heart. When the flag flutters on a flagpole, it is a beautiful sight. Really, if you look at the flags of other countries, none comes close to the beauty of the American flag, how the elements complement together. This is not a boring flag: the 50 offset stars that fit exactly together, the stripes, the colors, and the meaning of those elements. It really represents something to me now -- a way of life, a piece of earth, a philosophy of government, an economic system, a culture, my home. For someone who all his life has been apolitical and not at all patriotic (I had not felt connected to Indonesia or China at all), this new feeling is wondrous, and not a little humbling. It's sad, of course, that it took something like 9/11 to make me see the blessings of this country.

It still bugs me a little, though, that nobody interrupted my class that day to let me know what was happening as it happened.


John Tjia | 49 | New York

#2079 | Wednesday, September 11th 2002
911 Day...

For many, like myself, especially living in Manhattan, the day was horrendous, shocking, unimaginable and I cried a lot inside (and out). It is a day to stamp onto history, in infamy, regardless of one’s politics or perspective. Personally, it was one of the hardest days emotionally I’ve had to live through…
I am not afraid to say I am traumatized.
We’re OK. Physically and health-wise, we are fine. At the time, Joanne was at work at her client’s location, and I was home sleeping- she called moments later after the first plane hit to wake me, by the time I got up, both towers of the World Trade were lit up…
Watching it unfold on CNN digital cable TV and in a real live view from our high-rise apartment. (The TV is right next to the window)- I was mesmerized, surfing the news and simultaneously using my high-powered binoculars: seeing it actually happening, burning , it was totally overwhelming, almost unbelievable, looking right at it in a real time viewpoint, in real life - sirens screaming one after another all hours, and on CNN live, animated, mediated on the screen- my urban space became the global stage- instant news from a place of the current crisis international …
Joanne’s vendor company was located in the WTC. (It’s weird to say "was" being that it was still existing only hours ago.) If you remember, I sent out some attachments with photos of July 4th fireworks last year, taken from the 83rd floor. In the past, we have spent plenty of time around the immediate area (now "ground zero"), shopping in the WTC mall and shops outside and eating at favorite restaurants there and close by. Her company, IQ Financial, the maker of the bank loan administration software that Joanne implements for their customers, is one of the hundreds of companies located there. She has known many of her friends and associates from that office, for years, even before moving to NYC.
Joanne had an office in the WTC- Tower 2 last year, and could have gone to work for the company further as an employee, had she not signed directly with her client French bank. She still had been working on a consistent basis with many of the people there, and had been in contact socially with several, considering a few her very good friends. We have gone out together, eating, drinking with them and even have been to the Jets football games together. When Joanne got home she spent some time on the phone, trying to get word about her friends- these people are our good friends… and they have not been heard from. It is ironic and upsetting for me to think that the dedicated workers were the ones that went back up. It’s the good ones that always get the shaft. They all die young.
We’re hoping for some word tomorrow- The phone’s been ringing off the hook… The missing people’s family members are going crazy…
For myself, I was wide awake upon opening the shades and seeing the fires topping the buildings, surreal smudges of soot, distinct flames in the four mile distance- the Twin Towers were like candles, incense sticks starting to burn down. It didn’t occur to me the gravity of the situation at first- I thought, maybe they were small prop planes and they’d eventually put out the fire, with only a few injured or killed- no big deal. But this was. I took a bunch of pictures, as I watched the TV coverage zoomed in on the World Trade Center. And when the horror escalated, an explosion of TV media coverage; interviews and reportage on-the-scene; repeating the video clips over and over- I started to breath harder and my heart started feeling heavy. As the South Tower collapsed, my heart sunk, and I would have dropped to the floor if the couch were not right at my knees. All I could think of was Joanne’s former office people- our friends and 10,000 others! It was as if my aura was being depleted- swept along by the rise thousands of souls into the cloud of smoke. When the second tower fell, I was already drenched in tears- devastated by the thought of buried masses and in anguish made more terrible by familiarity making personal the place… and the faces…
Thousands of lives and deaths- several people said as they were evacuating, climbing down the stairs, the firefighters were making their way up, shortly afterwards, only minutes after the people get out- the tower collapsed…
Thousands of stories-
One of Joanne’s friends- a British co-worker, called his wife on his cell phone from the stairwell saying he couldn’t get out of the building because the levels below were too hot- in effect he had a chance to say good-bye- he had three kids…
Another one of Joanne’s friends- leaving the building, she got down the many levels, continued down flights of stairs, got below the levels when and where the 2nd plane hit, and while feeling the rumbling, shaking of the building, kept going, calmly proceeding, left the building- they were walking away, when their tower collapsed, and the air became thick with dust and smoke, and everything turned pitch black - it was then that she became afraid and thought she was going to die! She was talking to Joanne on the phone this evening and said she is in shock- terrified, afraid to think about going out again and can’t leave the clutches of her husband’s arms…

So, Joanne and I hugged a lot and said, as we always do, that we are so lucky to have each other…
The sun then set on the once majestic buildings of the skyline, some now only debris and rubble, and overhead the light of day changed to black, like enough was enough, there was nothing left, our spirit was all spent… Late night, the cooler atmosphere disguised the horrible scene, the hot acrid smoke over lower Manhattan- where if ever after that dissipates; heaven will claim a part of it…
The politicians tell us we will be strong and are going to be fine. But, I have no resolve; I have no strength left- I am a dependent individual and have look to the new global media for a message; I depend on the stratosphere to filter the air I breathe and look to the world-wide state of affairs to satisfy my questioning, maybe in this way I can work out the pain and disgust, and gain a little strength to hang on-
I’m staying tuned to CNN- a division of AOL/ Time-Warner…
AOL/Time Warner Center is under construction 1 short block from our hi-rise residential building at the southwest corner of Central Park. At the moment it is at 5-6 floors high. It will be a large complex and house Jazz at Lincoln Center, restaurants, shopping mall, office space, and condos- starting at $5mil. Due to rise to 50+ levels and to be completed in 2003, it will be massive Twin Towers…
It may be a long time before people on earth will be fine.


James Look | 49 | France, Metropolitan

#2015 | Tuesday, September 10th 2002
I work at home. The phone rang at about 5:30AM. I didn't answer. I turned on my computer about 6AM, and then checked my messages.
I had a message from Lydia at Corp HQ saying that I had better turn on the TV. I did.
I watched for a few minutes in complete horror as events unfolded.
I then went into the bedroom to tell my partner that his hometown had been attacked. His mother and sister still live near the WTC site....but they were ok.
This was when I realized that no one would ever feel safe again.

Scott | 49 | California

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