Monday, September 11, 2006


Its tough to quantify what I'm feeling today. I just sat in a sort of "rah rah" session with MS2's upper management, saying how amazing it is that our company has impacted the nation's survival, post-9/11. How after 9/11, Norm Malnack, one of our uppers of the uppers, was driving back from Norfolk, VA, on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on the afternoon of 9/11, after deciding that he couldn't stay away from his family, and before he went underwater, he saw a veritable picket-line of AEGIS destroyers and cruisers getting underway from Norfolk Naval Base, going to set up offshore, near Washington, DC, New York, and countless other cities, just waiting for the errant aircraft...just in case. I think its great that my company had at least a little impact, even if it was just a little. Now we have ballistic missile defense, and again, we are setting up pickets of ships to stop other neo-nuclear rogue states.

I digress. This day is about remembrance. I remember where I you? I doubt that anyone could forget.

One the morning of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, I had nothing to do. I was starting my freshman year at Drexel University in a week, so I was still working, but didn't need to be there until 1 PM. At 8:48, my mother came bursting in the room. She had the day off for some reason...I don't recall why. She said that someone had just crashed into the World Trade Center. I figured it had to have been a Cessna or something...something small. I mean, during WWII, an Army B-17 bomber crashed into the Empire State Building under heavy fog. The building barely wavered.

I ran downstairs and just as I got down there, I saw something streak through the sky. It was coming from our vantage point, although a bit off to the right. I yelled that another plane was about to hit...then, BOOM! I saw the fireball that was, just a few minutes ago, floors 78-84 of the South tower. I turned to my mother and said calmly..."We're at war."

My then girlfriend, now fiancee, Meghan, went to school at a specialized high school for Marine Sciences, called MAST, up on Sandy Hook, NJ. Its only about 15 miles, as the crow flies. I immediately called her on her cell phone, and when she was unreachable (since many of the cell phone providers used the towers as major cell sites), I called the central office of the school to make sure they knew. Everyone was in total shock.

All I could do after that was watch...and wait. I finally heard from Meghan, and found out that her cousin, Danny, had a 9 AM meeting in the towers. No one knew if he was dead or alive. Then, the south tower collapsed. As horrified as I already was, I know that I was physically sick. The second tower collapsed awhile later. I had heard that they were triaging some of the victims up in Atlantic Highlands, where a high speed ferry usually ushered commuters from the Jersey Shore almost to the foot of the towers.

I called work, since I was a lifeguard, and could have done some good up there. I would have at least been able to split broken bones or clean wounds. I was told by my boss that I couldn't miss work, and would be fired if I did. "The professionals up there know what they're doing. They don't need you up there." Or so I was told. Truth is, they needed help. I couldn't go up. I wish to God I had just hopped in the car and gone up. I didn't.

We later found out that Danny was a few blocks away, as he was running late to his meeting, something he very rarely did. Danny is now married with a daughter, and living out in San Francisco.

Meghan and I reflected, the other night, on just how much had happened since the attacks. Besides the obviously political, social, and military actions, just what had happened in our lives. She graduated high school and joined me at Drexel. We both graduated from college, got engaged, and moved in with each other. I've since started my masters degree. We both work for Lockheed Martin, in a town pretty far from where we grew up.

The world certainly changed, that day. For just the victims...everyone. It makes you realize just how much happens in 24 hours, or, in the case of the World Trade Center, 102 minutes.