|Steel beams in shape of a cross found in the rubble|
equivocally under attack.
In the northeast and mid-Atlantic corridors of this country, the tragedy was personal. Inhabitants still name those lost from their town. Businessmen still retell of fate calling them to an unexpected meeting that morning, while the rest of their team perished in a tower. Children still kiss their missing parents' photos, as memories fade. Military personnel still grieve their co-workers. Stories still bounce and carom of those who were in one of the tragic locations on 9-11-2001.
At 8:46 a.m. that day, Charley and I were at home in Massachusetts, watching The Today Show. A repairman was working on our television. When Katie Couric announced a plane had hit the north tower of the World Trade Center, we assumed a small plane had malfunctioned and veered off-course. When she announced a second plane had hit the south tower, there was no doubt in our minds: we were under attack. The three of us stood with mouths open in our kitchen, waiting for the next flashes across the television.
"Where's Todd?" I said to Charley. The previous month our younger son had spent a week in training for Lehman Brothers at the top of one of the towers. The week of the attack, he and other trainees were on the twenty-sixth floor of the American Express Building, connected to the north tower by a catwalk.
"I don't know," Charley said. We called his wife, Trish, in their rental apartment on Grand Street.
"I haven't heard from him and can't reach his cell phone," she said. "As soon as I hear, I'll call you."
The phone rang. It was our older son. "Where's Todd?" he demanded.
"We don't know. Are you in the City?"
"No, I'm in Jersey today. Call me as soon as you hear anything."
Todd had seen the first plane ACCELERATE past the windows of the American Express Building. "Let's get out of here!" he yelled. "There was no doubt in our minds it was an intentional act," he said later. He found the stairs and ran down twenty-six flights with his peers and team leader.
|Inside St. Paul's Chapel|
On the pavement, the scene was horrific. The south tower had been hit at 9:03 a.m.. People were screaming and stampeding in every direction. Employees had begun jumping from the north tower. Without a working cell phone, Todd headed up Broadway.
In forty-seven minutes after it was hit, the south tower crumbled. By then, the Pentagon had also been attacked. Todd found a rotary pay phone and called Trish. As ash billowed through the streets, thousands flooded the pavement under their apartment, attempting to escape over the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn.
At 10:00 we heard from Trish. "He's ok," she said. "He's walking to our apartment."
"Thank god!" was all I could say. "His brother's been calling, so we'll let him know. Are you all right?"
"Yes, now that I know where he is! I'll stay in touch with you."
Trish and Todd could not leave the City for days. The ash from the collapse of both towers had made the area below 14th Street, where they were living, unsafe. Eventually the American Express Building, along with others in the immediate area of the World Trade Center, was condemned.
|A firefighter's gear left in remembrance in St. Paul's Chapel, where first responders rested.|
When they were able to leave, Trish and Todd arrived at our Massachusetts home. While I held Trish, Charley hugged Todd.
A moment of silence wasn't nearly enough!