I have seen quite a few good articles by other writers reminiscing about the September 11, 2001 attacks; frankly, I was trying to refrain from writing on the topic. I moved to New Jersey about a year ago but prior to that had been a life long New York City resident. I was born in Manhattan, several miles north of Ground Zero; I worked in the downtown area for many years. I had been in the Twin Towers many times attending both business and leisure events.
On Sunday September 9, 2001, I was in New Jersey visiting family members; normally I would go home to Queens via Staten Island and Brooklyn. On that evening I decided to go home through lower Manhattan taking the Holland Tunnel in from New Jersey. The spur of the New Jersey Turnpike leading into the tunnel offers a magnificent view of lower New York. On that evening the Twin Towers were lit up and I recall thinking just how impressive they looked.
The weather in New York on September 11, 2001 was gorgeous; it was primary day and the polls were open. My office was in midtown Manhattan and I decided to vote prior to taking the subway into the City from Queens.
I don’t normally listen to the radio or put the TV on when I am preparing to go to work. On that morning before going to vote, I checked my business emails and reviewed my appointments for the day.
When I returned from voting my sister who lives on Long Island called and said there was some problem at the World Trade Center. She told me that the NYC Transit Authority shut down all subway lines going into Manhattan. I told her that was not possible and she told me to turn the TV on. I turned on the television and when I started grasping what was going on it seemed like a surreal event.
My firm, like many others was checking to make sure employees were safe; Manhattan was in a state of turmoil. My home was 15 miles from Ground Zero and through my window I could see emergency service vehicles from eastern Queens and Long Island headed into Manhattan.
Along with the rest of the world, I watched the horror unfold in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. For the several weeks following the attacks I worked remotely and did not travel into Manhattan.
Two weeks following the event I returned to my midtown office and roughly three weeks after the attacks I went to lower New York. Due to the recovery efforts the closet people could get to Ground Zero was Broadway, several blocks to the east.
Three weeks later it was still horrific, the bombed out shell that was on TV so often looked incredibly eerie in person; the toxic stench was sickening.
The weekend following the attacks I was traveling through Staten Island going to New Jersey; on the highway was a convoy of trucks coming from the WTC carrying debris and probably some human remains to the landfill in Arthur Kills.
In the aftermath of this tragedy Americans came together as one people; there was no political bickering both Republicans and Democrats were united. New York received help from all over America; our Nation was attacked and we stood as one people.
Our enemies would like to divide us and have us falter on our principles. The perpetrators of the attack on September 11, 2001 and the enemy we face in Afghanistan and Iraq are Islamic extremists; they do not represent the Muslim world. There are well over 1 billion people of the Muslim faith in the world; the overwhelming majority of them neither support nor condone terrorism. In fact, most victims of the Islamic extremeists are Muslims.
We use the slogan “Never Forget”; although painful, here is what I choose to remember:
Over three thousand innocent people lost their lives in a brutal, senseless terrorist act.
I remember people jumping from the Twin Towers in lieu of burning to death.
I remember listening to the tapes of the frantic calls made to loved ones from people that were about to die.
I remember the missing posters plastered all over New York by loved ones hoping to find a relative lost that day.
I remember the grief of countless family members and friends who lost someone that day.
I remember the unmatched bravery and courage displayed that day by so many.
I remember the destruction I witnessed and the stench I smelled on that day in lower Manhattan three weeks after the attacks.
I remember that it was a well planned, well financed attack by a cunning, determined and ruthless enemy.
I know that the same enemy is preparing other horrific attacks on the United States.
We should never forget and we should not rest until this enemy is obliterated.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and loved ones of all terrorist attacks.