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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering 9/11/2001

Today it's appropriate to take time to reflect on the events of September 11, 2001 and to remember all those  who lost their lives either on that day or in connection with the war on terror that followed. 

Everyone has a story about that September day in 2001.  I would like to briefly share mine. I was fortunate and I thank God for it.  I pray for those who lost their lives and for their families and friends. 

At the time, I was working at a law firm on Wall Street as a paralegal.   Every day I would take the train from Glen Rock, New Jersey into Hoboken. I would then hop on the PATH train into the World Trade Center.

I had grown fond of the commute and spent a great deal of time at the Trade Centers during lunch.   In particular, I remember a Hallmark store in shopping plaza beneath the towers. On Sept. 10th I had visited the store and planned on purchasing a denim baby outfit that said "Future Lawyer" on my way home.  At the time, my wife was pregnant with our first son.   

I remember walking back to the Trade Center the night of the 10th with the intention to buy that outfit. As I walked down the stairs into the shopping plaza I slipped and fell. I laid on the stairs while a sea of people moved around me. The stairs were wet and so were my pants and shirt. Being wet and embarrassed I decided to forgo the outfit and promised myself that I'd buy it the next morning.

 On the morning of September 11th  I said goodbye to my wife and began my walk to the train station.   My commute would take me into the Trade Center moments before the first plane hit the tower. As I walked to the train station I remembered that I had forgotten to take out the garbage and that my pregnant wife would give me a great deal of grief when returned home. I stopped, turned around and took out the garbage. As a result, I missed my first train.

 I walked back to the station and got on the next train. As we traveled to Hoboken I could see smoke coming from the first tower. The report on the train was that a small propeller plane had flown into the Trade Center. 

When the train stopped in Hoboken I exited and began to make my way to the PATH train. There was a lot of commotion in the station but everyone was going about their business. As I walked towards the PATH train entrance, I called my wife to ask her if she knew what was going on. She did not answer and I continued walking down to the train.  As I went down the stairs into the PATH station, just as I would lose cell service, my phone rang. It was my wife. 

She asked me to wait to get onto the train because something was going on.  I came up from the PATH tunnel and walked to the edge of the water at the Hoboken station. A few minutes later I saw the explosion caused by the impact of the second plane.  Later I saw the towers fall as the Hoboken station went into lock down. 

Everyone was put back on the trains and we waited to leave the station as people who had escaped the collapse were arriving from the downtown piers.  As we sat waiting to depart someone screamed that the Pentagon had been attacked.  People were panicked.  Many were crying.  I was scared that I would not make it home to my wife and would never see my son.  

For a while after the towers fell I had cell phone reception, unlike many others.  I wanted to speak with my wife but I had given my phone to others so they could call their families and let them know that they were unharmed.  I sat and prayed.  Eventually, we left Hoboken and I returned home, thankful beyond belief that I had missed my train and that my wife had stopped my from getting on the PATH train. 

I retuned to work that following Monday.  I took a boat from Hoboken to the South Street Seaport.  Wall Street was a war zone with National Guard, police and military stationed throughout the downtown area. That day as I was sitting in my office an announcement was made that a suspicious package was found in the lobby and we were ordered to evacuate.  I remember the panic as we all walked down the 23 flights of stairs to the ground level.  Once out of the building, I walked over to the area around the Trade Center.  It was beyond words. It changed me forever. 

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