Nine Eleven

Let me digress from the usual guitar stuff for a day. It’s 9/11 and most of us have reflected on the events of that day every year for the past eleven. Some of you have reflected a lot more than that. What strikes me today is that here in the Northeast, it’s the exact same kind of day. Impossibly blue sky and the early snap of Fall in the air. This is the first year I can recall that 9/11 dawned, at least from a weather standpoint, the same as 9/11/2001. And, for some reason, this brings it back in a different way. It just feels the same. I’ve had this same feeling on other days that have this kind of weather but it’s never fallen on 9/11 before. Trite? Maybe, but it brings it all back just the same. Everyone has their 9/11 story and mine is pretty mundane. I lost no friends or loved ones in the attack but I was in Manhattan and I saw the second plane strike the tower. I was commuting into Manhattan every day in 2001 to my video business and I arrived at Grand Central oblivious to the events that were just beginning to unfold. I exited the station and saw a crowd standing watching a TV monitor in the window of a bank on Madison and 47th. The North Tower was smoking heavily and the newscasters were still trying to get a handle on whether it was an accident or an attack or something else. I turned to the friend I was walking with and said, “look at the weather…that’s no accident.” Then I turned from the TV and pointed downtown…”you can see it from here”. At that moment a burst of flame shot through the South Tower. It was 9:03 and we all suddenly knew that this was no accident. I then walked to my office across town. I called my wife on my cell phone (it took a number of tries-everybody was on their cell phone doing the same thing) and she was already watching the coverage and was trying to call me. I arrived at my office around 9:30 and my employees and clients were already there, glued to the TV. I went into my office to check my phone messages and starting returning calls-mostly from people asking about my safety (I had clients on the 98th floor of the North Tower but was rarely there..but still). I was on the phone reassuring my Aunt Mildred in Florida that i was OK when I heard a gasp from the lounge area. The South Tower had collapsed. And everything changed. We all felt we were in some kind of danger and we should probably leave (the building was a very high profile one). I live 50 miles away and the trains weren’t running. One of my employees, who was off that day, had a bicycle that he left in his office and I decided to take it. As I got out onto the street on that gloriously beautiful late Summer day, it was beyond surreal. It was like something out of a zombie movie-dazed folks walking uptown. Everyone moving away from the Trade center walking North. Just lines and lines of people walking-not talking. I crossed the Henry Hudson Bridge (which was closed to traffic-the city had been locked down) but no one stopped me. I rode up through The Bronx and into Yonkers and when I looked back toward the city, I could see the smoke plume. A passerby asked me if I had been in Manhattan and I told him what I had seen. He asked where I was headed and I told him I was going back to my wife and young son in Connecticut. “Let me drive you. It’s the least I can do.” So, we loaded the bike into the back of his hatchback and he drove me the 40 miles to the Westport exit. My Mom taught me 55 years ago not to take rides from strangers but on that day, there were no strangers. We were all Americans and we were all in this together. That night my wife, son and I walked to the beach and we could see the smoke from there and it was immeasurably sad. We had started hearing about people from our town who were in the towers and hoped it wasn’t someone we knew. They weren’t but they were. They were workers just like me who made their way to Manhattan every day to do a job to support themselves and their families. People I rode the train with. People who worried about their families, not about dying in a terror attack. People just like me. They just worked in a different building.

3 Responses to “Nine Eleven”

  1. Tim Jarvis says:

    Like you I did not lose anybody that I knew and loved personally, but I have been a part of 9/11, like most of us ever since that fateful day. I am an airline pilot and I had spent the night in Manhattan the night before. We were flying a 767 from JFK to San Francisco, the same airplane on the same route as one of the hijacked airplanes, yet God spared our plane and not the other one. He is in charge, it’s His call, but it still gives you a lot to think about. My wife and kids were going crazy until I called them early that morning from San Francisco. I had flown without knowing what was going on because we left several hours before all hell broke loose. I was back in Manhattan the next week, right after they opened up the airports again to see the devastation. There will always be something missing from the NYC skyline.

  2. OK Guitars says:

    Thank you for your moving comment. It is something we will all share for as long as we are here. Now let’s go play some music.

  3. Sunburst Rob says:

    I took off work yesterday and played a round of golf with a group of fellow old timers on a local military base. When I remarked about the weather being exactly like it was the morning of September 11, 2001, they looked at me like I had two heads. I am really glad I clicked on your site now. I lost no one nor did any of my wife’s relatives all of whom are from North Jersey, Brooklyn and West Chester County. Around 1980, I was treated to dinner in Windows on the World. It took me over an hour (and several martinis) to get comfortable at that height. My lasting impression of that experience was that the building would come down some day in some unnatural way. I really wish I had been wrong.

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