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This Day in History, 2001: U.S. Attacked

Today, of course, is the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a day that is still raw in our minds. The bare sequence of events at the World Trade Center was as follows:

8:46:26 AM: North Tower Hit
9:02:54 AM: South Tower Hit
9:59:04 AM: South Tower Collapsed
10:28:31 AM: North Tower Collapsed

In addition, one plane was flown into the Pentagon while another was taken down by its passengers into a field in Pennsylvania. Around 3000 people were killed, victims from all over the world.

I'm a New York City native, born and raised in Queens, and grew up in a city in which the Towers always stood. On 9/11, I was at my teaching job in Newton, Massachusetts. The following comes from my journal, a hand-written one that I was keeping at the time.

"The second [staff] meeting ended early, and I went back to the Science lab to check my e-mail. I idly noted a message...which said that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.

"I didn't really think much of it and I went back to the Information Center. Shortly after the meeting...began, [a colleague] walked in and asked if we had heard the news. He told us that two planes had hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and he set up the small TV to receive CNN. They showed pictures of two commercial jets crashing into the twin towers...

"I ran to the phone...to call [my younger brother] at work. At 9:35 AM I called and got him. He had just gotten in, and he said that he seen the smoke from the 7 train. I told him to stay in touch, but due to circuits being busy, I wasn't able to reach New York City again for a while.

"The rest of the day passed in a blur of rumors and news. I kept checking webpages; when I couldn't reach cnn.com, I checked the New York Post webpage and the Newsday webpage. I called Nomi...

"At 10:15 AM, the...students returned from their physical education class...and...we told them the news...

"When the meeting with the students ended, I collapsed in tears..."

There's more, of course, but to summarize, I spent the day trying to get news of family and friends, making sure they were all safe. The drive home was surreal, knowing that fighter planes and battleships were protecting New York City. Nomi was already home, as her office had sent everyone home early. The rest of my family was safe, but my older brother, an emergency medicine physician, had been called up to report to New York City. Nomi and I took a walk at 5:30 PM, which included browsing at Brookline Booksmith and getting ice cream at JP Licks. Everything on TV was the news; we watched C-SPAN, which was running a feed from the CBC, so we could get the Canadian perspective.

The next few days, the events were fresh in everyone's mind. On Wednesday, I flinched at hearing an airplane in the sky, then remembered that all commercial flights had been grounded, so it had to be one of our military aircraft, protecting us. I bought my regular comic books that day; Adventures of Superman #596 had an eerie panel of the twin towers of Metropolis being repaired. A friend came over that evening after attending a local religious service.

On Thursday, Nomi and I were sick of the news, and Animal Planet had gone back to regular programming. We watched a documentary about moose to help us get our minds off things.

And life went on.


I was in New York for Rosh Hashanah that year. I remember looking up and seeing a F-18 flying air patrol over the west side of Manhattan. It was wierd
For me it was the absence of airplanes, rather than the sound of a plane, that was disturbing. At the time I was working in an office in Woburn with a window facing east, and planes taking off from and coming into Logan were the normal background. For the next several days -- nothing.

I thought of writing a song about that, but tarkrai beat me to it with his "Empty Skies."

I just recall...

Worrying about my mom, who is an EMT in NJ -- turns out she didn't go into NYC but several of my friends who are also on the squad did to assist the rescue effort -- my mom actually helped set up an emergency shelter in the local high school for the kids whose parents hadn't come home yet (Dunellen is a major commuter route to NYC).

December 2016

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