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Remembrances of the Day Itself: September 11, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sometimes the enormity of a moment is captured by something small — the details of the everyday take on new meaning.   

What do you remember from September 11, 2001 and its immediate aftermath? What memory or observation stands out, and why?

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Comments [8]

Marc Farre from Piermont, NY

The day after the attack, the Village was a locked-down war zone, smelling of molten metal, dust, tears and devastation, and preternaturally quiet. 

I lived near St. Vincent’s and went to join the line of those seeking to donate blood. Plastered on every available surface — bus stops, pizzerias, even mail boxes — were hundreds upon hundreds of handmade flyers, with more being posted by frantic New Yorkers who’d come to the hospital to try to find their loved ones.

Those scenes — even more than the horrors I’d witnessed the day before — simply broke my heart.

Along with much of my fellow Villagers, I spent long hours, days and nights, in silent and sympathetic contemplation of these pieces of paper. For some reason, these flyers reminded me of Tibetan prayer flags, flapping in the warm breeze.

And as I stood there, a simple and haunting melody was born in my head, while the words I was reading practically flew off the papers and rearranged themselves into stanzas in my mind. The next day I took off from work, booked an afternoon in the studio, and recorded this song live:

And even though our country is deeply scarred still, and seemingly half at war with itself, I still believe in the selflessness, kindness, compassion, courage and hope that I saw and felt in those early surreal, painful days.

Thank you, New York, for showing your truest greatness in those days. I know you still have it in you...

Sep. 08 2011 02:31 PM
Susan Ferguson from Greenwich Village

I saw the first plane hit on TV. I knew immediately that it was an attack, not an accident. Then I saw the second plane. And the smoke. I walked around the apartment. I couldn't stand it. I knew I had to leave and do something. St. Vincents Hospital was a block away and I thought, "they'll need blood." By the time I got there the line of people waiting to give was half a block long. Someone came down the line shouting, "Type O's, come to the front." I stepped out of line and came forward. At the barricade in front of the emergency room I could see doctors and nurses in their scrubs waiting. Office chairs and gurneys were draped with green sheets. We waited. We didn't talk too much. We waited. We waited for the sirens, for ambulances, for taxis. But no one came. No one came. My heart died. I got out of line and walked to a friend's apartment on Jane Street. Her two interns were sitting on the sofa watching TV. They had gone to the gym that morning. When they got to the World Trade Center, their offices were gone. They sat in silence. Silence is what I remember. Stunned silence.

Sep. 07 2011 10:15 PM
Con from New York City

I was recording a program for the In Touch radio network of the Jewish Guild for the Blind, and recorded a PSA that we were going off the air (we shared the transmitter atop one of the Towers) without knowing if my wife and two older sons were alive (they are). My wife was on the last train to stop at the IRT station under the WTC, after the first plane hit and before the second, which struck about two minutes after she reached the sidewalk. For the rest of the week she obsessively watched that plane hitting the tower, until I packed her (protesting) into the car and drove to our weekend place in the Berkshires, where we had no TV. On the way back the following Sunday she told me, for perhaps the only time in 27 years of marriage, that she'd been wrong and I'd been right. It was the first time she'd slept.

Sep. 06 2011 12:34 PM
Kim W. from Brooklyn, NY

I was at home, in the Lower East Side. I heard the impact of each plane as it hit the Towers.

I thought the first one was thunder -- there had been a freak flash thunderstorm that had come through at 5 that morning, no one really remembers that. But it had woken me up. And it was the only sense I could make of what I heard. It wasn't until I was watching the live footage, back when we only thought it was one plane, that I then saw a second plane flying to the Towers and then heard a second boom - and I knew.

Usually, when there's a big event happening in New York, one of the first things I do is make a round of phone calls to family and close friends, telling them "you're probably going to hear about this, so I just wanted to let you know I'm okay." One of the people I usually call is a friend in Ireland; on 9/11, I got my friend's mother Eileen. They hadn't heard the news yet, so when I told her that two planes had just hit the Twin Towers, Eileen was horrified, but grateful I was letting her know I was okay, and she promised to tell my friend.

The she asked me: "Do you think it was sabotage?"

And for a split second, I didn't speak -- because in the moment she asked me that, I knew that I had been avoiding admitting that to myself. And I knew that the second I answered that question, that the world would be forever and permanently changed. So I hesitated as long as I dared, wanting to keep the world the way it was just a bit longer --

"Yes, I think so," I finally said. And accepted the world's new fate.

Sep. 05 2011 11:16 AM
Susan Dorien from Croton on Hudson, NY

I was working as a Conductor on Metro North the morning of 9/11. My 9:50am outbound train quickly started filling up with people fleeing the city. The passengers were covered in ash and dust and had stunned and panicked looks on their faces. I hadn't yet heard what happened downtown so listening to the first hand accounts of what was occurring was overwhelming. The fear and disbelief was palpable throughout the train. Passengers were huddled together trying to console each other. The ash and dust was all over the seats of the train - an unforgettable scene for sure. I'll never forget the weeks and months after 9/11 bringing the volunteers and responders to the city to help with the clean up. The stories shared have stayed with me to this day and I'll never forget the horror, the pain, and the bravery.

Sep. 02 2011 10:22 AM
Mary-Jo Knight from NYC

One of my clients was on the first NJ train to be stopped from entering NYC after the 9/11 attacks. He was late for a meeting in the World Trade Center because his little daughter yelled at him to come up stairs and kiss him goodbye before he left to catch his morning train. I still celebrate John's life every time I see him.

Aug. 25 2011 04:10 PM
Bird Jones from Tokyo

I was in New York that day, and stood next a radio listening to the broadcast. I'd very much like to hear the broadcast again. Will you make this very important public document available for listening? It might be a valuable recording for the station, but it really belongs to everyone.

Aug. 20 2011 10:41 AM
Marge Gatto from NJ

First I remember the shock and confusion. Is this really happening? Then being glued to the TV for the rest of that day.The following day, I noticed that what little traffic there was, was going just a bit slower. People were walking slower. Everyone was quiet . . . so quiet everywhere. I really noticed the absence of planes overhead (living in Bergen County right under the flight paths) and when they did start flying again I remember saying a little prayer for each one "Just stay up there and be safe". We are forever changed

Aug. 18 2011 01:07 PM

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