Whenever there is a tragedy it causes us to put things in perspective. I was awakened at 9:30 on Tuesday, 9/11/01 by my girlfriend telling me that two planes had been flown into the World Trade Center.
We live in Queens so were not really in any grave danger, but we were pretty shaken by these events. My girlfriend had class that day at Columbia, on Manhattan’s upper West side. Class was cancelled, of course, as it was for the next day and probably the next few days. It’s rare to receive notice that class has been cancelled because of terrorism.
The events of yesterday have been thoroughly explained in the various media so there’s no reason for me to rehash them once again. But it felt completely unreal. It was not happening. The video of the second plane hurtling into the second tower looked like special effects. These sorts of things just don’t happen! I mean, there is an aircraft carrier group (USS George Washington) stationed off the coast of New York!
My girlfriend had so much trouble believing it was real that we drove around last night looking for a spot where we could see the Manhattan skyline. We found ourselves on Northern Boulevard and somehow wound up by the Queens entrance to the Midtown tunnel. Behind us, we could see the Manhattan skyline and the plumes of smoke and dust. I actually couldn’t turn around and look as I had to go to the bathroom really bad, but my girlfriend was just awestruck.
The Long Island Expressway, the artery that runs most of the length of the island, was deserted. I’ve travelled the LIE at all hours of the day and even at 4 AM I’ve never seen it that empty. I made it from the tunnel to Bellerose (on the Nassau/Queens border) in less than 10 minutes. Which is fortunate since I really had to go to the bathroom.
My heart goes out to all who’ve lost loved ones and to the FDNY and NYPD and all the volunteers helping out. I’m going to try and give blood again soon; yesterday I couldn’t even get in the parking lot. I donated $5 to the PayPal relief fund. I know it’s a pittance but I’m flat broke. If I believed in god, I would pray for them all.
Tonight I go back to Albany where I will pack more. My problems seem so trivial now.
I hope the revenge of the United States is swift and decisive. We must let these cowards know that we will no longer stand for this!