We all have our stories about where we were when we realized what was happening. I had just moved into my condo in Hoboken, New Jersey; we bought it for $360,000 two weeks before. My day started as any other. I walked the 7 blocks down First Street to the Hoboken Land Building. I am a Data Arcitect and was working on a project for a Newpower, a now defunct company that marketed energy (not all that different than Enron.) As I turned to go upstairs to my office, I noticed a crowd 100 feet away. On the waterfront (yes, the same waterfront as the Brando movie “On the Waterfront”). A stranger told we there was a fire, so I walked down to the river. I remember the pattern made by the smoke in the wind, it curled around onto itself like a DA haircut.
Then I began working. I sent a few e-mails to co-workers. I called home so that my wife would turn on the TV. Because we just moved in we didn’t yet have cable, and the over-the-air broadcasts had only static. I went back outside; back down to the river. The crowd had grown, but I saw a few co-workers but nobody knew anything. We all just watched.
Then, at 9:02 with my naked eyes I saw the second plane crash. It was across the river about 2 miles away, but still the flames were immense. I tried to call home, but the phones were jammed. I left work, and walked home. And less than an hour later from the rooftop of my condo, I saw the first tower collapse.
Hours later, I walked back down to the waterfront. There was a constant stream of buses coming in from the city dropping the city’s workforce at the train station so that they could get home. The police had closed the pier, and there was so much smoke rising from the WTC site. After dark, the pier was reopened and people had placed hundreds of candles.
My co-workers who were working at World Finance Center that day were thankfully late. I didn’t know anybody directly killed in the attacks. But like most people who lived so close to New York, everybody did know somebody who lost someone. Unimaginable pain, once removed.
Nine years later, I have never spoken to my kids about the events that unfolded that day. It still don’t know how to talk about such unspeakable tradgedy to my innocent children. But today, I asked my 11-year-old son if he knew what happened on September 11th. He said yes that he did know. When they are older I will tell them. I want them to see my tears to know that the pain is real, so that they understand that September 11th is not just another day in history.