Eighteen years ago I was 8 miles from Ground Zero, and 2000 miles from home. I still tear up when I think about that day and the following days. When I think about sitting in a hotel room, with the tv on, but most channels nothing but static. CNN on a local PBS station that was too poor to have antenna space on the World Trade Center, and pretty much nothing else. Wondering if there were more attacks coming. Buying a flag for our truck as we left to start the drive home. Barely made it out of the store without crying. Seeing trucks loaded with generators and temp power, fire engines and rescue, headed inbound while we were headed out…
I still tear up. I still find it very difficult to talk about it out loud.
My good friend from Cali, who used to think I was a kook for having preps, who moved to The City, later confided in me that she can’t sleep unless she checks her go bag next to the door. Her husband got off the train to mail a letter, and then got back on just before the towers fell. Not his day to die I guess- missed him by that much.
You can relive it moment by moment, in excruciating detail and slow motion by reading through the text message paging from the day. Someone hoovered up all the messages, and wikileaks published them. 911.wikileaks.org
Machines go offline, people become more desperate to hear from loved ones, official responses start to organize, and confusion reigns. Around 10:30 the second tower fell, and there are lots of texts about a car bomb outside the State Dept offices in DC. I have no recollection of that news at all. My communication with friends and family is in that archive as well. I carried a Skytel Nationwide pager and email device, and it was the only thing that stayed up all day. I can’t read more than a few minutes of historical time at any one sitting, so I haven’t found my messages yet. You can see agencies and companies stand up their emergency plans as it happened.
“2001-09-11 10:30:59 Skytel  A ALPHA
firstname.lastname@example.org|RESPOND INSTRUCTIONS|ALL NEW YORK FIELD OFFICE PERSONNEL RESPOND TO STUYVESANT HIGH SCHOOL AT THE CORNER OF CHAMBERS AND WEST STREET ASAP.” — that’s the US Secret Service
“2001-09-11 10:30:59 Metrocall  B ALPHA
Frm: Luster, Diana Sub: Crisis Room Txt: Joe/Tony, Per Mitch, go to the Crisis Room. Diana Luster Company Security 30/JF00/W9 (310) 332-7922 FAX: (310) 414-9747 Email:Lustedi@mail.northgrum.com” — that’s NorthrupGrummanAerospace
“2001-09-11 10:30:50 Skytel  D ALPHA
Mike Please call Inman ASAP 404-697-9918. Have you already notified K-9 Team? IB[10:30]”
“2001-09-11 10:30:46 Skytel  B ALPHA
To FB&RS Recovery Management Team. Please meet in the Cape Conference room on the 10th floor at 245 Summer St. By 10:30AM. Boston buildings are being evacuated and we need to have a coordinated message and plan that includes tomorrow. JM”
“2001-09-11 10:31:06 Arch  C ALPHA
All SWAT team members are to report to the airport. ”
“2001-09-11 10:31:08 Arch  B ALPHA
cteasley|The entire World Trade Center is gone. Both towers have collapsed!”
“2001-09-11 10:31:16 Skytel  C ALPHA
UD REPORTS ANONYMOUS CALL TO JOC REPORTING ANGEL IS TARGET”
“2001-09-11 10:31:34 Arch  C ALPHA
“Kelley Scott” <|per yr brother Cal get out north|I love you so much, please come home to me safe”
“2001-09-11 10:31:35 Skytel  C ALPHA
YOUR WIFE IS SAFE, SHE IS IN THE LORD & TAYLOR BLDG IN MANHATTEN, NOT SURE WHAT IS HAPPENING NEXT, BUT SHE IS SAFE. 941”
“2001-09-11 10:31:39 Metrocall  B ALPHA
/:DDC/: INFO: ALL SCHEDULED WORK FOR 9/11 HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO TERRORIST ACTIVITY IN THE UNITED STATES. MJFS ….. CALL COMMUNICATIONS WITH YOUR STAFFING LCFR-ECC ALL STAFF WE ARE ON STANDBY DISASTER ALERT”
It hurts to read.
I’m still filled with anger when I think about it.
Never forget. Never forgive.