Sunday, September 11, 2011

It was a beautiful day

As I left for work, ten years ago today, I looked at the sky and noted how blue it was.  It was such a deep and beautiful blue, like you almost never see it.  And there were no clouds in the sky, it was just a pretty, spectacular, azure blue.

When I got to work (at my old job) I was in the Service Department and we had WPLJ FM on the radio as we always did, listening to the "Scott and Todd" morning show.  All of a sudden, Todd came on and announced that an airplane had struck the World Trade Center.  We all looked at one another and thought that he must have meant something like a Cessna or some other small aircraft.  There must have been some kind of mechanical trouble or perhaps the pilot had a heart attack or something like that.  We had hoped that whatever it was, that it would be taken care of quickly and professionally as things happen in New York City; and that the loss of life would be minimal.

A few minutes later, Scott Shannon came on and told how the second tower had been hit; and that both towers had been hit by commercial airliners.  We all knew right away that this was no accident; and that we were under attack.  My mind raced and thinking of the USS Cole, I blurted out to everyone that I thought this was the work of Al Qaida.

Then, a little bit later, one of the people in the front of the office started telling us how the Pentagon had been hit and was burning.  Things were now flying out of control and even though we were nowhere near being directly affected, a small sense of panic set in among everyone.  The first thing you want is the most information that you can get.  At that point, I called my wife Marianne on the telephone.  She was home, and at the time was pregnant with our daughter Cara (who would be born in four days).  I told her to turn on the TV to watch what was happening.

We had a monitor in the office conference room; but it was used for video presentations only and was not hooked up to cable or any other service.  I volunteered to make a run up the street to the local Radio Shack to get a set of "rabbit ears", so that we could keep an eye on whatever broadcast TV was showing.

As I got to the main street, which was Inman Avenue in North Edison, I could look off to the east and see dense columns of smoke rising into the air.  We're not at a vantage point to directly see the New York City skyline; but we were close enough to see the smoke plumes.  At that very moment, I distinctly remember feeling a lump in my throat and saying to myself, "So many brave firemen, police officers and EMTs are going to die today".  From my experience as an Emergency Management Volunteer, I knew that these heroes would rush into harm's way without a second thought. It's just what they do to keep the rest of us safe.


I got back to the office with the makeshift antenna; and we watched the buildings burn.  We saw images of the chaos happening at the Pentagon.  The we heard about one other plane, still out there somewhere, while all air traffic had been shut down and all commercial flights were forced to land immediately.

Then we watched, helpless, as the towers fell.  We thought immediately of friends who had relatives that worked in the towers and we all prayed that they had gotten out safely.  But as those towers fell, I had a sinking, queasy, sickening feeling in my gut - I knew there were firemen and police in those buildings, doing their utmost to save lives, and that in doing their jobs, they had committed the ultimate sacrifice.

Information was coming in fast, furious and disjointedly.  We had heard that United Flight 93 had crashed in Pennsylvania.  There were bits and pieces and unsubstantiated rumors being reported also; and we watched and listened - feeling lost and helpless.  It was apparent that nothing was going to be done at work that day, so our boss let us leave, allowing us to go home and be with our families.  It was the best salve that could be given us at that point.

I arrived home around Noon or maybe 12:30.  As I got out of my Jeep and was walking into my house, I heard the sounds of jet engines in the sky.  We live under the flight paths for Newark Liberty Airport; so this is so common as not to be noticed.  But I had remembered that all commercial air traffic was shut down.  I looked up into the sky and I saw an F-15E Strike Eagle racing across the sky, keeping the New York Metropolitan area under a watchful eye, performing Combat Air Patrol.




This video was put together by a friend and ex-coworker - Richard Andres.  He left Sinar Bron (where I was working 10 years ago) to go work for our best dealer in New York City - Foto Care.  This is what he witnessed from their vantage point on 21st Street, looking south. Thank you, Richard, for sharing and for producing this video.

Seeing that combat aircraft flying over my house was a sight that I will never forget.  At this 10th Anniversary of that horrible day, my thoughts and prayers go out to the innocent victims of Al Quida's bloody murder plot.  They also go out to all the first responders who gave their lives that day, trying to keep their fellow citizens safe.  Also, they go out to the members of our Armed Forces, those who have died in the War on Terror and the those alive who are still carrying the battle to the enemy.

May God continue to bless America.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least.

1 comment:

Ray Sills, K2ULR said...

Indeed, we all remember the day. I was living NJ, and it was a day off for me. I was walking my dog, and thinking what a gorgeous day it was. When I got back inside a little before 9AM, the radio was in noise hash. I tuned around, heard no NYC stations, and was thinking that there was a power failure in the city. Then, I turned on the TV and saw what was happening.

Channel 2, the station you likely were watching, was the -only- TV station in NYC to have a spare transmitter site.. at the Empire State Building. And, they happened to have a camera aimed at the Trade Center when the 2nd plane hit.. it was utterly astounding. Even at that point, I thought the first plane was an accident. I immediately emailed my sons who lived out of state to say I was OK and not working in NYC that day.

One of my co-workers, it turns out, had a son who was a fire-fighter for the city, Michael Haub. His name is now inscribed on the door to Engine Co. 54 on 8th Ave near 48th St.