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because i was there

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Today I deviate from my normal photo posts to remember.

I lived in NYC for several years and I was there in lower Manhattan that morning. I was just getting out of the subway minutes after the first plane hit. I had no idea what was going on and what everyone was lined up across the street looking at as I climbed up the subway steps…. until I crossed the street and looked up myself.

I couldn’t believe what I saw when I looked up myself and yet I couldn’t even begin to imagine how much worse the situation was about to get. Everyone was saying something different as to what was happening, a bomb went off, a fire, a helicopter, an airplane.  I witnessed the second plane hit with my own eyes while standing there on the sidewalk. I saw people jumping…. rather than burn alive. The sound of the buildings collapsing, the avalanche of dust and debris falling down on everyone,  the coughing.

It’s one thing to see disasters unfold on the news or in the movies…it’s quite unimaginable and very surreal to be right there in the middle of it.  Hearing the sirens of fire trucks and ambulances, policemen shouting, people crying, smelling the fire of steel, paper and rubber, breathing in the dust and god knows what else….. running away with crowds of screaming people, seeing a look of fear in every single persons face around you and feeling like a fish in a barrel.

Walking across the Queensburo Bridge with thousands of other New Yorkers, looking back and seeing the city smoldering. Not knowing how to get home from Queens to Brooklyn because I had always taken the subway. Luckily I had a bicycle ( I couldn’t ride it for quite sometime until I got into Queens because the streets were so crowded with people) Funny that I remember people giving me bottles of water and asking if i needed directions, wanted a candy bar, actions so seemingly small but the acts of kindness and heart felt concern from EVERYONE in the streets I experienced on my way home made a huge difference.

I saw things that day I wish I never did, but I also saw people come together with a sense of community and humanity…. helping others in ways I’ve never experienced since.

So take some time today to be thankful for what you have and for those around you.

These are a few pictures I took from that day and the days after.

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49 comments

  1. My family lost a very close friend that day, for my older children it is probably the first death of someone close to them that they remember. My daughter in law was one of the many running away from the horror in the streets. I feel for you, as I feel for them every “anniverary date”. I wish you some peace today
    Blessings,
    teri

  2. Thanks for the post and how we should all remember that day, but I am sure that none of us will ever forget it. I remember just waking up, turning on the tv, then glancing back at a building burning. I looked again, and said to myself “holy crap, that’s the world trade center”. Seconds later, the second plane hit right in front of my eyes. I never left the tv that entire day and watched in horror. I was a waitress at that time and I donated all of my tips for an entire week to the fireman’s fund. (everyone I worked with thought I was crazy) I did my little part and donated a week’s pay because I am an American and just wanted to help in some way. It will be a day that I will never forget.

    • thank you for sharing that, and going above and beyond to help people you never met…i wish more people thought of others the way you do and respond with the same kindness you show

    • I don’t even know myself what to say about what i saw…even to other people that were there…but i think it helps me to try and share my experience with others. thank you for stopping and your comment.

  3. I loved reading this. I’m sorry you witnessed it, but at the same time, you were meant to so you could become the person you are today. You turned tragic events into a beautiful blog post here. Especially love the part about people offering you water and candy bars. Similar to the people in Boston who gave runners a place to sta and shower and food and water. Such tragic events allow us to see the good left in the world.

  4. Thanks for the 9/11 post. I lived in NJ last year and finally got to see where the tragedy happened in NYC, my father was one of groups first deployed after this happened. I realize the immense tragedy this really was. I hope others still remember today.

  5. I feel weird saying this, but the first picture in this set is beautifully tragic. The contrast of the smoke, the sky and the sun set is beauty. It took me a couple minutes to stop looking at it. Combined with what I’m listening to (Imagine Dragons) it’s bringing tears to my eyes. Thank you for capturing this.

  6. Your remembrances hit so close to home, as well as your powerful and evocative photos. Thanks for sharing your experiences of that day; like you, some of the most indelible “portraits” of that day on my soul were people coming together, offering each other help and water and just simple comfort and support. We saw some of the worst of the human spirit that day, but also some of the very best.

  7. such a horrific tragedy…I watched the second plane hit real time on TV that morning and I can’t imagine how you must have been feeling or how you were able to cope actually being there…thank you for sharing. I just saw a youtube video on another blog I visit about the rescue of people by boats on that day, that was something I didn’t realize happened, for 9 hrs people used their boats to ferry those stranded…it was an awesome video to see…

    • i’m still coping in my own way about that day. yes, that’s true about the boats and ferries mostly all privately owned boats and coast guard from my understanding…i wish i knew about it when i was trying to get home (would have saved me hours) but at that point I couldn’t get near the brooklyn bridge side of lower manhattan anyway because of evacuations and the dangers from debris…

  8. It’s nice to have someone that was actually there remember. I was much further away in Manhattan, so I can’t compare experiences. All I can say as someone that had moved to the city two weeks earlier, that it was completely disorienting. I’m sure you feel, on some level, that those who try to equivocate seeing it on television with those who could see it with their own eyes and smell it as patriots with inferiority complexes. Not being witness to 9/11 doesn’t make you less of an American, so stop trying so hard!

  9. I definately didn’t have the same experience as you. I watched it unfold on the TV here in Canada. For month’s afterward, Canadians were flying the Star Spangled Banner outside of homes and business in honour of America and what your country endured that day.

    I will NEVER forget.


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