I’ve written essentially the same opening each of the past few years. It’s still appropriate to remember today, as it was when I first wrote this:
September 11, 2001. New Yorkers were heading to the polls to vote in primary elections to determine the next mayor of the city. It was a morning full of promise and baseball fans were excited about the Yankees’ chances of making the playoffs, the Mets thinking about the future, and the start of the new football season. In other words, it was a day not unlike the ones we’ve experienced once again this year.
While everyone was focused on the day ahead, another group of people were thinking about the mission that would forever alter the skyline of NYC and alter history. Al Qaeda’s terrorists were already on board four jets bound for New York and Washington DC and had already overpowered the crews.
I was on a NJ Transit train with my dad when I first noticed something wrong at the WTC out of the corner of my eye; it was smoke coming from the upper reaches of the tower.
It was just around 8:45.
The world changed, and I didn’t quite realize it. No one did.
People watching the morning news didn’t know it either at first. But they would soon be glued to broadcasts that showed the horrors of the worst terror attacks ever perpetrated.
The damage done on that morning was nearly impossible to comprehend. In the mere blink of the eye, nearly 3,000 people were condemned to death and the World Trade Center would soon be reduced to a pile of rubble that would burn for weeks on end. Reports would come in that a third plane had struck and damaged the Pentagon. But the death rattle of the Twin Towers would continue for just under two hours and victims trapped above the fires had to make the choice to stay and choke on the heat and smoke or jump to a certain death. All too many make that decision to jump. Firefighters on the ground also succumbed before the towers fell - falling debris hitting firefighters and fleeing people alike.