New York/Brooklyn, September 11, 2001 – Today, at about 9:15, the #4 train I was riding into Manhattan stopped at the Fulton Street Station, directly below the WTC, and didn’t open its doors. People stood up to get out, but there was announcement about an accident and that we would proceed to the Brooklyn Bridge, a few blocks away. A woman on the train said she saw that the WTC was on fire.
I walked to NYU. All the while, there was a plume of black smoke rising over Broadway. When I got to a good vantage point, I saw the end of one of the buildings looking like a cigarette burn: fire ringed a charred spot on the tip, black smoke billowed out over Brooklyn.
I attempted to call Asia at work. She works on John Street, about four blocks from the WTC. I ran to school and checked the news, then tried to call her a few times. I couldn’t get through, and I couldn’t check my voice mail messages. I heard someone yelling outside and ran out just in time to see the first tower fall. There was more white smoke and then it was gone.
I kept trying to contact Asia and was about to go downtown to find her when she came through the door of the journalism building. We walked over to a bar where she wanted to meet her friends but it was closed. That’s when the last building fell. People were crying and a few were yelling about judgment. The white column of smoke rose higher and was drawn over the river by the wind.
Asia and I bought water and some banana bread and walked back to NYU where we waited until about 13:00 and then decided to go home. We walked down Bowery towards the Manhattan Bridge which runs parallel to the Brooklyn Bridge. It was like the Trail of Tears.
We crossed the bridge in a throng. It felt like a slow footrace. There were thousands of people walking across the main span of the bridge. It took us an hour to cross over into Brooklyn. The plume followed us the whole way. It was a cloudless day, except for the dust.
We arrived at the Brooklyn Library at about 14:30 and found a jitney cab to drive us up Eastern Parkway to Utica, where we live. We were home at 15:30. Everyone was in a daze. It felt like a Sunday morning: the world was quiet and empty. The leaves are starting to turn but it’s warm and people were sitting on benches. We took Phoebe out at about 19:30 and saw the plume silhouetted in the setting sun.
I believe that this is the defining moment of my generation. This will change us indelibly, change our character and ideals and goals for years to come. I expect this feeling will last years but God help us if something like this happens again on American soil.