Everyone has a story to tell. Unspeakable evil. Incredible courage. Powerful solidarity. Outpourings of human kindness. Never forget.
The pain lingers and images of the horror I witnessed 20 years ago are just as vivid. I was changed forever. This day brings somber remembrances, sadness, thankfulness, and immense gratitude at the privilege I hold in surviving. I share my story in solidarity and for reflection, gratitude, respect, and blessings.
I was seven months pregnant and preparing to leave for court. It was a beautiful and very ordinary day. The sky was crystal clear and vibrant. I hear a swoosh and whiz- zing overhead and then a tremendous boom. It is 8:46 AM and all our lives changed forever.
I look out my office window and the people below are looking up. The report is that a plane struck the WTC. I think to myself, how could that happen? The sky could not be any clearer. It is 9:03 AM – a second plane strikes. The corner piece of the building outside my window crashes to the ground. People are running. What is going on? My phone is ringing off the hook. Sirens must be blaring but I don’t recall hearing a sound. I look towards the Towers and witness the unimaginable. The image is emblazoned in my mind, heart, and soul forever. I wish I hadn’t looked. The Towers are burning, and people are jumping. I see two people holding hands and spiraling downward. My God in Heaven, what is going on?
I catch my breath, wipe the tears from my eyes, and call my Mom to tell her that I am ok. I head down the stairs to the street and into a world that is completely upside down. The engine of a plane is on the ground in front of me. People are screaming, running, bleeding. Everything appears to be in slow motion. I start walking. It’s 9:59 AM – the South Tower collapses. Debris is being strewn everywhere. People are yelling, “Nerve gas, cover your faces!” My co-worker and forever friend – Suzanne D’Amico – shields me from the crowd that is pushing past us because she is concerned for me and my unborn baby. We keep walking. I have no plan other than to just keep walking. I think to myself, I’ll just keep walking towards my Mom’s house in Glendale. As I start over the Brooklyn Bridge, a man with headphones in his ears turns to me and says, “They just hit the Pentagon.” What? What the hell is happening? Our entire nation is under attack. People are running past me and yelling, “Get off the Bridge!” I am numb. I continue to walk and stop at the center span of the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s 10:28 AM – I stop to watch the North Tower collapse into itself. It is surreal. Nothing makes sense. I must keep walking.
20 years later the horror lives on within me. The pain and images are so very real. The tears come out of nowhere.
I am one of the lucky ones. I will never forget. I am grateful for our lives having been spared on that horrific day – my beautiful daughter Alana will be 20 years old in November. I am fortunate and I am blessed, and I continue to pray for those less fortunate than I. The people who lost their lives and those who gave their lives willingly that day to save others continue to be remembered and are inspirations for us all.
On September 11th at 8:46, 9:03, 9:59, and 10:28 – stop, reflect and be thankful for your life and for the beautiful and very ordinary days.