This site updated as of September 21, 2002
Many of our friends and family have had poignant personal experiences
related to this tragedy. I will add them as the stories accumulate.
If you have anything you'd like to add, please email
to Paula from:
Thank you for your letter and your warm thoughts. It was a very
painful experience for all of us here in the New York area. Although
I am in New York City every other day, I just visited Ground Zero
about a month ago for the first time since the attack. It looks
like a giant construction site. However, I found myself repeatedly
looking up, visualizing and remembering what was once there. It
struck me strange that the surrounding buildings still standing,
all mere half-pints compared to the Twins, now look like giant skyscrapers
standing sentinel around the giant graveyard. On Tuesday, September
11, 2002, I stayed home and watched the litany of names being read
alphabetically by the former mayor and various City and State officials,
including Mrs. Clinton, Robert DeNiro, and members of the City government,
fire, and police departments. It took almost three hours to read.
I was waiting to hear the name of my former co-worker and friend
Sandra Wright, who, obviously, was near the end of the list. It
was very stirring. I will join you in praying for peace.
||I have just spent some time looking through
your memorial site for September 11. Watching the events live on TV
here in Sydney Australia was chilling. It was around midnight here
when the 'phone rang. My partner's brother rang and was yelling "Turn
on the TV! It's New York - there's been an attack!" We scrambled and
turned on the TV. We just sat there not really believing what was
happening in front of us. I said something like "It can't be happening..."
I watched the first tower collapse and then the second. I felt so
numb. Then came the tears and the feeling of awful loss. I have worked
for years with anti-racism and pro-tolerance groups in schools and
adult education. Watching the events in NYC and then in the days that
followed left me so very sad - it made me think at times "Why on earth
go on talking tolerance and peace when there are madmen who just want
to blow people up" - it didn't last long! I have such happy memories
of NYC when we visited in December 1997. The people were great and
the town was magic! There was such an outpouring of grief here in
Australia for America. We really felt one with you in your sorrow
because it was our sorrow too. We share a common culture and history.
My local parish offered Mass for all who died. Our parish organist
did a soul stirring improvisation on The Star Spangled Banner and
we opened a Condolence Book. We felt we had to do something to ease
the pain in our hearts and stand in solidarity with you. Now 12 months
on the hurt has lessened and we have watched the events in Afghanistan
and elsewhere. I hope the US does not go to war - we've had enough.
I join with so many good people in America, Australia and around the
world, in praying for peace - a just and lasting peace. Thank you
for the site - I wanted to write and tell you how moving it was. God
Bless, and God Bless America. Paul O'Shea
I flew back to Jersey for my 30th reunion last year, which they
had on the convenient date of October 5th, which also happened to
be 3 weeks after the bombings. One of the women in our class was
in the towers when they were hit and was at the reunion. It was
pretty strange flying back and being there right afterwards but
I suppose it was even harder being there the whole time. Anywho,
just thought I'd say hi and forward some things I had written and
sent around right after September 11th:
FOR ALL THE TRUE HEROES; the firefighters, police men and women,
rescue workers and volunteers everywhere who have died or suffered
harm trying to help those attacked by extremists... For all the
victims of this horrific act and any others done any harm in the
name of a god... And even for the perpetrators, whose minds have
been twisted to believe that any god worthy of worship would want
such a horrific act done in their name, or that any cause worth
fighting for would justify such atrocities... We of this world pledge,
with our hearts and souls to do, to the best of our abilities, WHATEVER
is necessary to make sure that no man, woman or child will EVER,
EVER, AGAIN suffer harm from acts such as this. Only through compassion,
understanding and tolerance; not indoctrination; will we achieve
Peace and the true path of righteousness brothers and sisters. --
Matt Martin, Boulder, Colorado
Spread it around if you see fit.
||Thought for September
September 11, 2002 is soon approaching. On that day, please wear red,
white and blue to work or school to show your support for those who
lost their lives on 9-11-01 and to honor the heroes who worked to
save them and the families left behind. At noon your time on September
11, 2002, no matter where you are or what you are doing, stop, put
your hand on your heart, and say the Pledge of Allegiance out loud
or to yourself and say a prayer for our nation. If all of us do this
together in every time zone around the world, we will have a powerful
chain of thoughts surrounding us. Please keep this going to your friends
and family. By September 11, 2002, hopefully enough people will have
read this and will join together in unity.
(Source unknown; found left in office copy machine)
One Survivor's Story... THE PRICE WE PAY
My name is Adam Mayblum. I am alive today. I am committing this
to "paper" so I never forget. SO WE NEVER FORGET. I am sure that
this is one of thousands of stories that will emerge over the next
several days and weeks.
I arrived as usual a little before 8am. My office was on the 87th
floor of 1 World Trade Center, AKA, Tower 1, AKA: the North Tower.
Most of my associates were in by 8:30am. We were standing around,
joking around, eating breakfast, checking emails, and getting set
for the day when the first plane hit just a few stories above us.
I must stress that we did not know that it was a plane. The building
lurched violently and shook as if it was an earthquake. People screamed.
I watched out my window as the building seemed to move 10 to 20
feet in each direction. It rumbled and shook long enough for me
to get my wits about myself and grab a co-worker and seek shelter
under a doorway. Light fixtures and parts of the ceiling collapsed.
The kitchen was destroyed. We were certain that it was a bomb. We
looked out the windows. Reams of paper were flying everywhere, like
ticker tape parade. I looked down at the street. I could see people
in Battery Park City looking up. Smoke started billowing in through
the holes in the ceiling.
I believe that there were 13 of us. We did not panic. I can only
assume that we thought that the worst was over. The building was
standing and we were shaken but alive. We checked the halls. The
smoke was thick and white and did not smell like I imagined smoke
should smell. Not like your BBQ or your fireplace or even a bonfire.
The phones were working. My wife had taken our 9 month old son for
his check up. I called my nanny at home and told here to page my
wife, tell her that a bomb went off, I was ok, and on my way out.
I grabbed my laptop. Took off my t-shirt and ripped it into 3 pieces.
Soaked it in water. Gave 2 pieces to my friends. Tied my piece around
my face to act as an air filter. And we all started moving to the
staircase. One of my dearest friends said that he was staying until
the police or firemen came to get him. In the halls there were tiny
fires and sparks. The ceiling had collapsed in the men's bathroom.
It was gone along with anyone who may have been in there. We did
not go in to look.
We missed the staircase on the first run and had to double back.
Once in the staircase we picked up fire extinguishers just in case.
On the 85th floor a brave associate of mine and I headed back up
to our office to drag out my partner who stayed behind. There was
no air, just white smoke. We made the rounds through the office
calling his name. No response. He must have succumbed to the smoke.
We left defeated in our efforts and made our way back to the stairwell.
We proceeded to the 78th floor where we had to change over to a
different stairwell. 78 is the main junction to switch to the upper
floors. I expected to see more people. There were some 50 to 60
more. Not enough. Wires and fires all over the place. Smoke too.
A brave man was fighting a fire with the emergency hose. I stopped
with two friends to make sure that everyone from our office was
accounted for. We ushered them and confused people into the stairwell.
In retrospect, I recall seeing Harry, my head trader, doing the
same several yards behind me. I am only 35. I have known him for
over 14 years.
I headed into the stairwell with 2 friends. We were moving down
very orderly in Stair Case A. Very slowly. No panic. At least not
overt panic. My legs could not stop shaking. My heart was pounding.
Some nervous jokes and laughter. I made a crack about ruining a
brand new pair of Merrells. Even still, they were right, my feet
felt great. We all laughed. We checked our cell phones. Surprisingly,
there was a very good signal, but the Sprint network was jammed.
I heard that the Blackberry 2 way email devices worked perfectly.
On the phones, 1 out of 20 dial attempts got through. I knew I could
not reach my wife so I called my parents. I told them what happened
and that we were all okay and on the way down. Soon, my sister in
law reached me. I told her we were fine and moving down. I believe
that was about the 65th floor. We were bored and nervous. I called
my friend Angel in San Francisco. I knew he would be watching. He
was amazed I was on the phone. He told me to get out that there
was another plane on its way. I did not know what he was talking
about. By now the second plane had struck Tower 2. We were so deep
into the middle of our building that we did not hear or feel anything.
We had no idea what was really going on. We kept making way for
wounded to go down ahead of us. Not many of them, just a few. No
one seemed seriously wounded. Just some cuts and scrapes.
Everyone cooperated. Everyone was a hero yesterday. No questions
asked. I had co-workers in another office on the 77th floor. I tried
dozens of times to get them on their cell phones or office lines.
It was futile. Later I found that they were alive. One of the many
miracles on a day of tragedy. On the 53rd floor we came across a
very heavyset man sitting on the stairs. I asked if he needed help
or was he just resting. He needed help. I knew I would have trouble
carrying him because I have a very bad back. But my friend and I
offered anyway. We told him he could lean on us. He hesitated, I
don't know why. I said do you want to come or do you want us to
send help for you. He chose help. I told him he was on the 53rd
floor in Stairwell A and that's what I would tell the rescue workers.
He said okay and we left. On the 44th floor my phone rang again.
It was my parents. They were hysterical. I said relax, I'm fine.
My father said to get out, there is a third plane coming. I still
did not understand. I was kind of angry. What did my parents think?
Like I needed some other reason to get going? I couldn't move the
thousand people in front of me any faster. I know they love me,
but no one inside understood what the situation really was. My parents
Starting around this floor the firemen, the policemen, WTC K-9
units without the dogs, anyone with a badge, started coming up as
we were heading down. I stopped a lot of them and told them about
the man on 53 and my friend on 87. I later felt terrible about this.
They headed up to find those people and met death instead. On the
33rd floor I spoke with a man who somehow knew most of the details.
He said 2 small planes hit the building. Now we all started talking
about which terrorist group it was. Was it an internal organization
or an external one? The overwheming but uninformed opinion was Islamic
Fanatics. Regardless, we now knew that it was not a bomb and there
were potentially more planes coming. We understood. On the 3rd floor
the lights went out and we heard and felt this rumbling coming towards
us from above. I thought the staircase was collapsing upon itself.
It was 10 am now and that was Tower 2 collapsing next door. We did
not know that. Someone had a flashlight. We passed it forward and
left the stairwell and headed down a dark and cramped corridor to
an exit. We could not see at all. I recommended that everyone place
a hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them and call out
if they hit an obstacle so others would know to avoid it. They did.
It worked perfectly. We reached another stairwell and saw a female
officer emerge soaking wet and covered in soot. She said we could
not go that way it was blocked. Go up to 4 and use the other exit.
Just as we started up she said it was ok to go down instead. There
was water everywhere. I called out for hands on shoulders again
and she said that was a great idea. She stayed behind instructing
people to do that. I do not know what happened to her.
We emerged into an enormous room. It was light but filled with
smoke. I commented to a friend that it must be under construction.
Then we realized where we were. It was the second floor. The one
that overlooks the lobby. We were ushered out into the courtyard,
the one where the fountain used to be. My first thought was of a
TV movie I saw once about nuclear winter and fallout. I could not
understand where all of the debris came from. There was at least
five inches of this gray pasty dusty drywall soot on the ground
as well as a thickness of it in the air. Twisted steel and wires.
I heard there were bodies and body parts as well, but I did not
look. It was bad enough. We hid under the remaining overhangs and
moved out to the street. We were told to keep walking towards Houston
Street. The odd thing is that there were very few rescue workers
around. Less than five. They all must have been trapped under the
debris when Tower 2 fell. We did not know that and could not understand
where all of that debris came from.
It was just my friend Kern and I now. We were hugging but sad.
We felt certain that most of our friends ahead of us died and we
knew no one behind us. We came upon a post office several blocks
away. We stopped and looked up. Our building, exactly where our
office is (was), was engulfed in flame and smoke. A postal worker
said that Tower 2 had fallen down. I looked again and sure enough
it was gone. My heart was racing. We kept trying to call our families.
I could not get in touch with my wife. Finally I got through to
my parents. Relieved is not the word to explain their feelings.
They got through to my wife, thank God and let her know I was alive.
We sat down. A girl on a bike offered us some water. Just as she
took the cap off her bottle we heard a rumble. We looked up and
our building, Tower 1, collapsed. I did not note the time but I
am told it was 10:30am. We had been out less than 15 minutes. We
were mourning our lost friends, particularly the one who stayed
in the office as we were now sure that he had perished.
We started walking towards Union Square. I was going to Beth Israel
Medical Center to be looked at. We stopped to hear the President
speaking on the radio. My phone rang. It was my wife. I think I
fell to my knees crying when I heard her voice. Then she told me
the most incredible thing. My partner who had stayed behind called
her. He was alive and well. I guess we just lost him in the commotion.
We started jumping and hugging and shouting. I told my wife that
my brother had arranged for a hotel in midtown. He can be very resourceful
in that way. I told her I would call her from there. My brother
and I managed to get a gypsy cab to take us home to Westchester
instead. I cried on my son and held my wife until I fell asleep.
As it turns out my partner, the one I thought had stayed behind
was behind us with Harry Ramos, our head trader. This is now second
hand information. They came upon Victor, the heavyset man on the
53rd floor. They helped him. He could barely move. My partner bravely/stupidly
tested the elevator on the 52nd floor. He rode it down to the sky
lobby on 44. The doors opened, it was fine. He rode it back up and
got Harry and Victor. I don't yet know if anyone else joined them.
Once on 44 they made their way back into the stairwell. Someplace
around the 39th to 36th floors they felt the same rumble I felt
on the 3rd floor. It was 10am and Tower 2 was coming down. They
had about 30 minutes to get out. Victor said he could no longer
move. They offered to have him lean on them. He said he couldn't
do it. My partner hollered at him to sit on his butt and schooch
down the steps. He said he was not capable of doing it. Harry told
my partner to go ahead of them. Harry once had a heart attack and
was worried about this man's heart. It was his nature to be this
way. He was/is one of the kindest people I know. He would not leave
a man behind. My partner went ahead and made it out. He said he
was out maybe 10 minutes before the building came down. This means
that Harry had maybe 25 minutes to move Victor 36 floors. I guess
they moved 1 floor every 1.5 minutes. Just a guess. This means Harry
was around the 20th floor when the building collapsed. As of now
12 of 13 people are accounted for. As of 6pm yesterday his wife
had not heard from him. I fear that Harry is lost. However, a short
while ago I heard that he may be alive. Apparently there is a web
site with survivors' names on it and his name appears there.Unfortunately,
Ramos is not an uncommon name in New York. Pray for him and all
those like him.
With regards to the firemen heading upstairs, I realize that they
were going up anyway. But, it hurts to know that I may have made
them move quicker to find my friend. Rationally, I know this is
not true and that I am not the responsible one. The responsible
ones are in hiding somewhere on this planet and damn them for making
me feel like this. But they should know that they failed in terrorizing
us. We were calm. Those men and women that went up were heroes in
the face of it all. They must have known what was going on and they
did their jobs. Ordinary people were heroes too. Today the images
that people around the world equate with power and democracy are
gone but "America" is not an image it is a concept. That concept
is only strengthened by our pulling together as a team. If you want
to kill us, leave us alone because we will do it by ourselves. If
you want to make us stronger, attack and we unite. This is the ultimate
failure of terrorism against The United States and the ultimate
price we pay to be free, to decide where we want to work, what we
want to eat, and when and where we want to go on vacation. The very
moment the first plane was hijacked, democracy won.
Without a doubt, there has never been a more horrendous event in
the city than that attack last Tuesday. We witnessed it live from
Midtown as it unfolded and got progressively worse. No one was sure
if they were safe or if there were other terrorist acts unfolding
that would strike other parts of the city. All tunnels and bridges
were closed down almost immediately. Highways were shut down. Subways
and buses stopped running. We comforted panicked employees watching
this nightmare unfold and tried to keep everybody as calm as possible.
All of our phone lines went dead. How were all the people that we
knew downtown? Could we do anything to help? How would everyone
on staff get home? The focus continued to be on the Trade Center
and it started to became apparant that it would be confined to there.
But such a loss! Even one week later, large blocks of white, steamy
smoke continue to rise from the Trade Center and is visible for
miles. The full extent and impact on human life and the families
they left behind won't really be felt for weeks to come. The recovery
is painstakingly slow and dangerous. The destruction is that complete.
Last week was and this week continues to be an emotionally draining
time for me, my colleagues, co-workers and family. All of us were
spared and miraculously, the immediate families of my companies'
staff in the New York, Washington, DC and 5 other outside office
locations did not suffer any injury or loss of life. Most of our
friends escaped. All have friends who are missing and presumed lost
forever, as I'm sure the relationships and friendships of these
5,000 people have collectively touched millions of people throughout
We pray for them and all of the victims in New York and Washington...we
have hung flags from our offices, lobbies and homes to remember
them and show our unity as a people, a city, a country, an ideology.
I will never forget what I witnessed last week and how it has changed
my life and my perspective. I have hope that we will all remember
the bigger picture of what was attempted to be taken away from all
of us last week...and that we will not let that happen!
Hoping all is well with you and your families.
Now that I have had time to collect my thoughts, I feel a cathartic
need to express them. Over the past 23 years I have had the privilege
to be able to gaze at the amazing panoramic view of the world renowned
New York City Skyline. I have not once taken this incredible view
for granted. It has served as a model of what humankind is capable
of creating when intelligence and creativity are melded together.
No matter what turmoil or chaos may have been occurring in my life
or in the world -- I only had to look out my window and be reassured
that all was right with the world.
Then something unbelievable happened on September 11, 2001. Two
edifices known as the World Trade Center came tumbling down, along
with untold human lives. If this had occurred due to an earthquake
or another natural disaster, who among us would have questioned
God's Will? Instead, it is other HUMAN BEINGS who have blood on
their hands. The media keeps reassuring us that the American spirit
may have been injured, but it is not dead. It was that spirit of
freedom that brought my father and his family here almost 100 years
ago. Will the battle cry of my daughter's generation be REVENGE,
RETALIATE, FIGHT TERRORISM? These are all catchy phrases -- causes
that our youth will have no trouble supporting and God help us --
making the ultimate sacrifice. But I ask -- how do we annihilate
HATRED -- you have to be carefully taught to HATE and DESTROY.
Now as I gaze out my window to find solace, instead I view a haunting
reminder of the antithesis of mankind's goodness and creativity.
May all your family and friends be safe. Love and Peace,
Every time I see the tape of the buildings coming down or the aircraft
crashing into the building I can only think of the thoughts of the
people for whom that was their last conscious perception. The terror
and the fear that must have enveloped their last few seconds of
life must have been overwhelming. I was in a building that collapsed
on two occasions as a firefighter in NYC for 30 years. On one occasion
I was able to escape but I shook involuntarily for an hour afterwards
and the second time I was buried for a short time. Pulling those
memories and associated emotions from so long ago and multiplying
it by a few thousand times can only get close to the terror that
must have been part of their last few moments of life.
I have been pulled out of retirement for some sad duties. I am
part of the team that will make the notification to the family when
the remains of the lost firefighters are found and positively identified.
Sad work but the department has no one left to do it. Offer a prayer
to all those we lost and to my 38 friends that answered their last
alarm on the date of irony September 11 or 911.
We were awakened by a phone call from a friend here in Juneau about
5:45am last Tuesday, leaving us a message about the terrorist attacks.
I turned on the TV and watched in horror at the unfolding events.
When the FAA grounded all flights, we were cut off from the rest
of the world. Not only were airline passengers affected, but also
our mail service and fresh food shipped by air. First class mail
and FedEX shipments have just started arriving today. (Monday Sept
17) Over 600 hunters and fishermen at remote locations in interior
Alaska were also stranded by the FAA shutdown. Most did not have
a way to know what happened and simply waited for days in the wilderness
to be picked up by their bush pilots. American flags are displayed
all around Juneau on homes, businesses, and vehicles. There have
been several memorial services.
My doctor's wife was at the hotel across from the Trade Towers
with her sister and mother at the time of the attack. They rushed
out of their hotel and fled to Battery Park, then making their way
toward the Brooklyn Bridge. The daughters lost contact with their
mother in the confusion and did not find her until that evening.
It turns out that once she knew her daughters were safe their mother
turned around and went back toward the Trade Towers to help others
to safety. We have had friends over every evening since the 11th
to comfort each other and share our grief. Words cannot express
our emotions following this tragedy. Though we may be 4000 miles
away, our hearts are there with you.
(Re: Landmark Education, located in 1 World Trade Center)
Hi, everyone is fine but there is a story about Jackie Wilbur, the
young peoples Forum director. She was in the Marriott. She was getting
her stuff together when something came flying threw the window.
She left, barefooted, without her spectacles and in her pajamas.
When she got to the lobby they directed a large group of people
out of the hotel into ...building one.
The building collapsed around her. She was in a pocket and miraculously
crawled out of the building. Not everyone from the hotel that was
with her made it. I am shaken by the image and what she must have
gone through. I know it makes me a bit jumpy to think of it. My
cousin Chris walked down 87 flights of building two to safety. Lets
pray for Peace with a capital "P".
Just last weekend, in a moment of awareness of the
commercial airliner din over "my" park, I wished that the din would
dim, could be less. --
"Be careful what you wish!"
From Tuesday thru today, when the three area airports
were again closed to civilian flight, the skies have been eerily
quiet. . . . Pre- 1903-ish! moonlike! or as if an ether had displaced
our familiar air. "The Day the Earth Stood Still." Then,
8:20 tonight, hearing a highspeed zoom tear the upper air, from
my window I saw what I had not seen since the early '50s: a military
plane, loud, low, carome southwest. Then, to break the Twilight
Zone / forward-to-the-past spell and recover a feeling of normalcy,
per my prewar M.O. I went running. As I lapped around the park's
great green (at night, craterlike) circle ringed with stately trees
and esplanade, over twenty minutes three more planes tore the same
trajectory. Reassuring, perhaps (to intercept
alien aircraft), but . . . cells of our enemy are already within,
and it's starting to feel like an occupied country!
The ground has been UNquiet: about 5:30 a.m. today,
sirens and two firetrucks barreled racketingly along my street,
Newarkward (perhaps in pursuit, to Staten Island, of the "red car
originating in Boston chased from near Newark" this morning). Then,
again, two firetrucks Newarkward, 2 p.m.-ish -- perhaps the false
bomb scare at airport; then a 4 p.m. reprise -- perhaps the false-pilot
To paraphrase David Frost, esp. after the JFK and
Oswald assassinations and funeral, This will be the Week That Was.
(May it end, with this week.)
||Pattie Voigt Markley
I just returned from Chicago where I was "stranded" on Tuesday.
We (a colleague and I) finally got a car and drove the 16 hours
back to this devastation. I have very little to say. Jim said you
sent a very poignant message. I will hopefully get home tonight
and read it. I am glad you are fine and hope that the people in
our group are all "accounted for."
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