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My Memories of 9/11

Donna Summer died today of cancer. According to TMZ, she believed that she inhaled toxic particles on 9/11 while in New York City. I was in New York City on 9/11/01. I was there for training. I had just gotten hired by JPMorganChase as a financial advisor. I was told that I was the first from Texas to be sent to NYC for training. I was supposed to be there for three weeks begining the week of 9/10 (Monday). Of course, everything change that Tuesday morning. I was in the elevator when the first plane hit. I was looking out of the 18th floor of 66 Water Street when the second plane hit the south tower. We were all told to go home, but when I got downstairs, choas was breaking out. All bus, taxi, and subway service had been terminated. I wasn’t going to walk miles to get to my hotel near Time Square so I decided to stick around the area. The plane took about seven floors when it first hit the south tower but by the time I got downstairs most of the tower’s mid-section had already burned.  Paper was flying everywhere. It was snowing paper. That is what I focused on. Flying paper! Everywhere. I kept on walking towards the towers. Many of us were. I’m not sure why, though. Perhaps because I thought I could help others. Maybe because I knew I was witnessing history and wanted to get a closer look. I never saw anyone jump from the towers. I was focused on the flying paper. Otherwise, I believe, I would have high tailed it out of there! When I was about a two city blocks away from the south tower. I noticed many business people running in a single line around the corner and away from the towers. I also noticed a police officer who told me to stop and turn around. I didn’t know it then but he probably saved my life. I’ve always wondered what ever happened to him. Not long after he told me to turn around, I heard a very loud rumble. I was talking on my cell (back to El Paso) but I put it down to listen. I thought to myself, “another plane is coming”! The rumble sounded like a plane beginning to take off so it didn’t make any sense. My mind could not comprehend that the towers were falling. Everyone standing around me began to run. I was running and looking up as to see the plan as it approached. I didn’t see the plane and the noise seem to quite so I stopped running. I turned around to see towards the tower and thats when things became very surreal. A huge cloud of smoke (bigger and much faster than anything I saw on TV later) rushed towards us! Before we could even react, the entire area went completely dark. Mid morning turned to dark night. At this point, I’m thinking I not going to make it. I begin to appoligize to the person on the phone who had warned me not to get too close. I could not run or even move because I couldn’t see two feet in front of me. Then the smoke began to clear slowly. They were two young men trying to break a store front window (so as to get away from the smoke/dust). I began to help them but the stupid thing wouldn’t break. We threw a trash can at the window. It would only bend but not break. Three sobing ladies hovered around me and the other two men. We never said a word to each other. Suddenly, we hear a voice about fourty feet away but we couldn’t see the person due to the clearing dust. He kept saying “over here! Come over here!” We followed the voice. It was a manager of a gym. We walked into the gym lobby and began to raid the soda refrigerator for water. We poured the water over our eyes and face (full of dust). The entire time I was on the phone with the person in El Paso. I put the phone to my ear and ask the person what they were seeing on TV. The person on the other line was crying and yelling “the tower fell”. I asked her to repeat. “The tower fell. Get out! Get out” she yelled. I explained that I was OK inside the gym lobby. As I was speaking on the phone, a stranger tapped my on the shoulder. I turned around to see him and he pointed to my right shoulder. Their was six to seven inches of dust on it. I brushed it off. I returned to my conversation. The person on the other line now tells me “a plane has struck the White House and the Pentagon”.  I could not believe this was happening. I looked out the gym lobby window waiting to see the sun shine threw all the dust. I no longer had any interest in being there. I just wanted to get out but needed to wait until the dust settled (no pun intended). I began to noticed all the other people did not have phone service. They would put there cell to their ear but no tone. They would then look at me with thier eyes as to say “please let me borrow your phone”. They never actually asked me but I could read thier minds. I asked the person on the phone with me to let me hang up so I could share my phone. She would only cry for me not to hang up. I have always felt guilty that I didn’t share my phone that day.

As soon as the dust cleared, I walked outside the gym and began to walk towards mid town Manhattan (Times Square). As soon as I began to walk, I noticed the “Wall Street Bull”. You know! The large bronze statue of a bull. It look like it was covered in snow! The streets, buldings, everything covered in grey snow. It actually looked beautifull. As I walked away from what would later be called “ground zero”, I began to notice people who were not covered in dust. People who witnessed the disaster from just outside the debris field. They looked at us with very trouble eyes. They asked all of us who were coming out of the dust if we wanted to take a shower in their homes. Imagine that! New Yorkers don’t typically ask strangers to shower in their home. Some people had cups of water and orange juice on a tray. They would offer the drinks to all who walked by.

I will wrap my memories of 9/11 on my next post!

picture by Loco Steve

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