September 11, 2001

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Monday, September 11, 2006

When I planned on returning to THE COUCH last week, it did not occur to me that i would be coming back on this date...We will not be following the normal formatting today...the words are what make THE COUCH this day...

A Beautiful sight...

The sky was bright blue that morning. (As it is today in New York...exactly the same in fact) The train ride from Princeton Junction train station to New York Penn Station was uneventful.

As usual, I slept most of the ride.

Walking through Penn Station, I noticed a crowd and stopped to investigate. It seemed there were some NY Rangers in the Rotunda signing autographs and building excitement for their upcoming season.

I grabbed my cell phone and tried to call my friend Bob, a huge Ranger fan, but was unable to reach him, so I walked out into the warm sunny day and began my usual trek up 7th avenue toward 7th and 43rd where I was working at Juno Online.

Reaching the building, just off of Times Square, I stopped at the third floor cafeteria to pick up my roll and Pepsi and then rode the elevator up to my floor.

We had just moved from across the street, as Juno got ready to merge with Netzero, which would signal the end of my 6-month tenure with the company.

Sitting down in my cubicle, I turned on my radio to The Howard Stern Show and ate my roll as I laughed at some bit they were doing.

At about 8:55am, Robin Quivers, Howard’s sidekick, stopped the conversation and said “Hey Howard, a plane just hit the North World Trade Center Building” It hit at 9:46am…

As most of us did, they assumed it was some small private plane that had made an error. Then, everything changed…

Reports that another plane had hit the other tower. People were arriving and some began to gather at my cubicle and we listened. The radio I had also picked up TV frequencies, so we switched over to WABC in New York and their reports made us realize something very bad was happening.

All of a sudden, I realized about 25 people were crowed around...all straining to hear and then began to scatter to make phone calls to friends and loved-ones to se if the could get more info. We heard reports of planes hitting buildings in Washington and that the Washington Monument might have collapsed…so many stories…none confirmed.

About 9:30 or so, we headed downstairs to a pub located next door to watch the TV and find out what was really going on.

As were watching the TV, at 9:59 am, we watched in horror as the South Tower collapses before our eyes. A half hour later the North Tower also collapsed. We were standing there, crying, hugging each other, and wondering what we re going to do. I try my cell phone, but it is useless…the major cell towers for NY were located at the top of the two beautiful buildings that I just witnessed disappear.

With two other people, I head upstairs to our old offices to help one of the ladies get some things. When we get off the elevator, I turned to my right and looked out the window. Where, in the past, I could see two towers, all I saw was smoke and then it hit me…they were gone and so were so many people.

We hurried out and I said I needed to go…to where I was not sure, but my only thoughts were, if this was a terrorist attack, where else but Tomes Square is the decadence of New York more prevalent, with it’s billboards and theatres and so many people.

Heading uptown, I once again thought of my friend Bob, who lived in the upper 80’s on the east side. Maybe he was at his apartment and I could go there.

The news had said no trains were running, so there was no way to get home. As I walked, thousands of other people walked with me…dazed looks in their eyes…did I look the same to them I wondered?

I didn’t have Bob’s home number and I kept trying his cell to no avail. I found a phone book and ripped the page out that listed his last name and as I walked I stopped at phone booths on the street, trying to find the right number. Mostly I got answering machines, none were his.

At one point a woman answered the phone and I asked for Bob and she started to wail asking if I knew her brother and he worked at the WTC and did I know if he were all right. My blood went cold, knowing it was not my friend’s home, but that I had put myself in a spot where I was listening to the sister of someone who might have just perished.

That was the last call I made.

I kept walking, now sure I would never find his apartment, but I didn’t really know what I was doing anyway.

Sirens were constant…fire trucks, ambulances; police cars sped by heading down toward the devastation.

Don’t turn around and look, if you do you will see the plume of smoke again...just keep heading north.

But eventually, I knew I had to head back toward Penn Station…it would be my only way home. I looked up and realized I was on 97th street and Third Avenue. I had walked 50+ blocks uptown and 6 blocks across town…in Manhattan that equates to about 3 –3.5 miles (20 city blocks to a mile, plus the cross-town avenue blocks).


I turned around... but stared at the sidewalk in front of me…never looking up…not wanting to see that plume of smoke I knew was there in place of those two majestic towers.

That was when I heard a sound I would hear over and over for the rest of that day…Two Navy jets blasted overhead. I heard a radio from a car saying that jets were circling Manhattan, making sure no other planes got close.

So, I walked…and kept walking…hearing the reports from radios…stopping to look at TV’s in bars…not really understanding or wanting to at that moment.

I walked all the way to 34th and 7th, where my morning had begun. Another 4 miles or so…how long did it take me? To this day, I am not sure.

Then I looked and there were thousands all around Penn Station. They were lined up…waiting to be told when they could go inside and get on trains to get home. THOUSANDS, but you could hear a pin drop except for the sirens and the planes overhead. When a plane flew overhead, faces would look up…staring…but no one talked.


People with bullhorns were saying things like “No trains would be running until they had walked the miles of tracks under the Hudson River to ensure there were no bombs placed there.

And when the lines began to move, we shuffled forward a few inches and then stopped…a few inches…stop.

I then realized, I was inside Penn Station and an announcement was made for a Trenton train…the line I ride. I was pushed along with the crowd, but when I got downstairs, there were people hanging out the doors...it looked to me like one of those trains you see in India with people hanging off every inch.


Today - Until We Rebuild


I moved back upstairs and saw a posting for another train I could take and made my way to that platform.

I am not sure how, but I ended up getting a seat and I flopped into it. My head was down…I didn’t want to look at anyone and I was not the only person like that. When I did look up, all you could see were the tops of heads.

There was a spot next to me and a body flopped down. I sensed something strange and looked out of the corner of my eye. The man who was next to me was covered in soot.

His entire suit and head, only his face was cleaned off and even then, it was still dirty.

I whispered, “Are you OK?” but did not get a response, so I just put my head back down and stared at my feet.

When the train finally pulled out there was not a millimeter of space left, the aisle jammed with bodies.

The train went into the tunnel under the Hudson and as we came out on the New Jersey side, all heads turned to look toward Manhattan. I didn’t want to, I am not sure anyone did, but we were all unable to stop ourselves.

This was not like when you slow down in a car to look at an accident…it was more like pausing to pay respect to an old friend.

That huge plume of smoke was still there…black and grey and white...all mixed together…rising high above a city I have always felt I was a par tof and now, a part of me was gone.

I had been up in the Towers more times then I can count. Showing friends from out of town…taking pictures of the city…eating at Windows On The World…and I would never be doing that again.

And the people…the thousands of people who worked there...what had happened to them? The firefighters…the police…the Port Authority personnel…the emergency responders…my brain went into overload again and all I could do was stare.

When the train finally arrived at Princeton Junction, I made my way to my car and somehow drove home.

I watched the TV that day and then the next and then could no longer watch. To this day, if an image of the towers from that day come on…the one’s with the smoke and fire or after the collapse, I turn away.

Recently I had to take Path into Manhattan and when the train came out of the tunnel, we were in the hole that is still there. I closed my eyes…not able to look.

I have never been down there like so many. I just can’t go.

Over the next couple of weeks, as we returned to work, each morning and evening, I would pass cars which had not moved in the parking lots of the train station. Princeton Junction is a huge stop for many people in central NJ to take the train from. These were cars whose owners would never return for them.

Slowly they disappeared. Slowly life began again. But life in Manhattan, and the rest of the US has never been the same.

Years of working in Manhattan, I never heard a siren…never noticed a fire truck…

Now...I hear them blocks away…I know I always will.

Of course new Yorkers were not the only victims that day.

The Pentagon…

The people on those four flights…

Everyone who had a friend or a family member or a co-worker who is no longer with us...

I knew a few people who worked down there. They are still with us thank God.

e, a secret service agent, who worked in a building across the street, said to me one day “The horror I witnessed will never go away”.

My brother-in-law, Kevin worked a few blocks away from ground Zero.

When they left their building a wheel and strut from one of the planes was in the street outside their door.

It is five years later.

Our world is so much different.

The people ultimately responsible are still out there somewhere, and even if we eventually capture them, there are others waiting to take their place...We must all realize our world will never ever be the same...but we can all work to make it better.

Today, stop at some point and say a silent prayer for the 2,900 plus people who were murdered in cold blood that day.

They were not fighting a war…they were living their lives.

I truly wanted to include a list of all of those who were murdered that day...but the size is overwhelming blogger, so instead, I ask you to visit this site archived by CNN. It is a wonderful tribute to those who we lost that day. Find it here.

As I sit here at the computer this morning, the TV is on in the background and the names of those murdered at the World Trade Center are being read by their loved ones...
And the tears flow…
I always felt this picture needed to be manipulated so that the flag
was the center of what you see, so I did so in photoshop.

16 Of Your Sparks

  1. Turnberry Says:
  2. This is so moving. I cried my own tears this morning and have now again and I am trying desperately to stop the tape of the events that runs through my head more often than I would like. Even after five years I still gasp when I see an image of the Towers unexpectedly. Thank you Vince for your courage in writing this and for being here to give us the vehicle to share our thoughts and emotions on this day.

     
  3. damm Says:
  4. Thank you for the hard but welcome reminder...

    So much death that day, so many hero's.

     
  5. Dixiechick Says:
  6. Pausing for a minute of silence today to remember the tragedy of 911.

    Not only is it a sad day for everyone, it is also a sad day personally for me as today would have been my Dad's birthday.

    Thank you Vince for the reminder today...

    Lee Ann

     
  7. Coco Says:
  8. Everyone has their own thoughts and memories of that horrible time. I cannot bring myself to look at the footage, and have no need anyway, as it is still vivid in my mind's eye. Today, I asked my grade 10 remedial English students to talk about, and then write a journal entry about, that day. Keeping in mind that they would have been in grade 5, or about 10 years old, at the time, I was prepared for a lack of detail or perhaps a lack of understanding. What I got, instead, was an ensemble of passionate, reflective and respectful dissertations on the topic. There simply wasn't enough time (or interest) to do anything else in class. At the end, I thanked them for teaching me never, ever to underestimate their ability to demonstrate maturity and thoughtfulness when it really matters. When they had left, I had tears in my eyes. It's so easy to let ourselves forget the innocence that was lost on that one day. After this morning, I don't think I ever will again. I thank you, Vince, for allowing us to see it through your eyes, as I know how difficult it must be for you to relive it.

     
  9. robsg1rl Says:
  10. 9/11/01

    We Will Never Forget

     
  11. Angell Says:
  12. Thank you Vince. I tried not to remember today - I had friends in the city, and my uncle, all of whom were within striking distance of those towers. Ten minutes later, two blocks over....any number of things could have caused them to be amongst the lost souls.

    Thank you for helping me remember. Today, thank you for my tears.

     
  13. twinnsmom Says:
  14. This is a tough day for me being so far from home. I will never forget that day. Kevin called me as he was driving in the city today. He said the sky was the same as it was five years ago and it was very strange. I thank God that Kevin had to make a stop to get supplies that morning five year ago. He never was able to get to work.

    I think of so many people today, especially my dear friend Theresa Russo who lost her husband. She is spending the day with her son at Mike's Firehouse today. Mike was a hero like so many! He was a fire fighter who was one of the first to arrive on the seen. Theresa had just recently married Mike and they had a beautiful son. We spent Labor Day with them at a neighbor's house. Although we only knew Mike for a short time, we knew he loved his job, he was a wonderful husband, cherished his son Michael, and he loved to cook. I wish we knew more.

    Give your love ones a big hug today. Tell them that you love them. Life is very crazy and stressful but we need to stop and take a moment to reflect on what is really important to us.

    My thoughts and prayers are with all American's on this day.

     
  15. Bond Says:
  16. Turn: Thank you for your wise words.

    Damm: Yes, too many lives lost to murderers.

    Dixie: Today is bad enough, but to go through the first birthday dad is not around is even tougher. My heart goes out to you.

    Robs: NEVER EVER FORGET

    Angell: I am sorry I made you remember..but we all need to and i know that you didn't mean you were upset I made you.

    Twinns: (This is my loving sister folks...) I could not rememebr, I thought Kevin wasn't there, but I remember the wheel and strut outside his building. Theresa and her children are in my prayers today. All of the emergency responders that day are heroes... Let me rephrase that...ALL EMERGENCY RESPONDERS ANY WHERE IN THE WORLD ARE HEROES EACH AND EVERY SINGLE DAY.

     
  17. Bond Says:
  18. Coco: It is amazing what children remember, no matter how young. I can see, like it was yesterday Vinny in his 4th grade classroom as Sister Mary kenneth came on the PA to announce the President had been shot in Dallas...and not truly understanding at that exact moment (in my mind I saw a car in the middle of a desert and a gunman behind a rock outcropping like the old west). But then at home, the pictures and sounds of the TV constantly for the next 4-5 days are ingrained in my memory.
    And I remember you reminding me that many of the flights from Europe and elsewhere were diverted to your part of Canada and the many people who opened their hearts and homses to those unable to get to their homes and loved ones.

     
  19. Anndi Says:
  20. Thank you Vince for sharing your account of that day with us.
    I still remember where I was when I heard about the first plane hitting the WTC. The hum of machinery slowed, people huddled close to radios (this in a French Canadian manufacturing plant mind you).
    I struggled to remember if any of my college classmates were now living and working in New York City. I saw the pictures and videos of the devastation as some of us in the office huddled around a television set we used for training, trying to see through the grainy signal as it didn’t have a proper antenna.
    Nothing was as painful to watch as the look of despair and devastation I saw in the eyes of those wandering the streets and those of the rescue personnel, who were losing their comrades but still fighting to see if they could find just one more person alive.
    I cried for the loss of life, the broken families, and the world that my little girl was going to grow up in.
    I struggled with what I was going to tell her as she would inevitably see the footage of a plane hitting a building, of people walking around covered in soot and bleeding, of the seemingly endless memorials and funerals. What do you say to a 3 year old? How do you tell a child that there are worse monsters out there, real flesh and blood monsters, than the ones hiding under the bed or in the closet? I was dreading the questions. As a parent you want to protect your child. But how do you protect them from this?
    She surprised me, as she often does. She seemed to know, that for good to exist, there must be evil. She told me that God would take care of things. He just needed more Angels. I just hope that good will overcome evil after all is said and done. I believe it can, it must.
    May the coming generations draw strength from the resolve shown by the American People in this tragedy.
    My thoughts and prayers are with the children of 9-11, they grew up too fast that day.
    And the Emergency Crews all across the world who are ready to put themselves in harm's way so that someone will make it home to be with their families once more. True Heroes, one and all.
    I hugged and kissed my daughter just a little harder and longer this morning, and I made certain to tell her I love her. You just never know.

     
  21. Fred Says:
  22. What a chilling account. I'm sure it was a surreal experience. I called Gery's house that night just to make sure everyone we knew was accounted for.

    I had a student in class today that broke down because her father was killed that day. This was the first year she's been to school on 9/11.

     
  23. Bond Says:
  24. Our Friend travis sent this email:

    Hey,

    For some reason I wasn't able to post a comment to your blog. I just wanted to say that I appreciated your words yesterday about 9/11. I still haven't been able to articulate my thoughts.

    I avoided all images of it this weekend, and yet it was still vivid in my mind most of the day yesterday. It was almost like living it again. I was living and working 30 miles north of LA at the time, and I remember wondering if there were more planes. I don't think I slept that entire week.

    The mood in my office was oddly subdued yesterday. There was very little laughter and many moments of absolute quiet.

    Like I said, I can't really articulate my thoughts about that day - thanks for doing it for me.

    Travis

     
  25. Joyce Says:
  26. My husband was downtown in Washington that day and i did not hear from him until 4:30 that afternoon. I can tell you i was terrified. i am not happy to this day when he heads off to the city every morning. it will never be the same when i say have a good day.

    Being raised in a VERY patriotic family I guess i look around and feel that we are all. My Grandfater Ernest could not have been prouder to be an American. He wore that American Legion Uniform with suce pride. It is one of my fondest memories of him. Then something happens that makes me wonder how many people really do feel the way i do.

    i went to mass this morning and the vocalist asked me sheould we do church music or patriotic music. i siad patriotic of course. at the end of the mass we sang god bless america. i looked around and i was the only one crying. i would have thought there would not be a dry eye in the place. i did not get it. i just got in my car and drove home.

     
  27. Bond Says:
  28. Anndi: Yes children are more perceptive then we give them credit for sometimes.

    Travis: That is why THE COUCH is here..to help me express myself and hoefully, give you a way to add or to agree,..or disagree..

    Joyce: Cousin...we can be careful, but we can't be afraid, or the murderers have won.
    I am shocked you got that reaction in church...

     
  29. Bond Says:
  30. Anndi: Yes children are more perceptive then we give them credit for sometimes.

    Travis: That is why THE COUCH is here..to help me express myself and hoefully, give you a way to add or to agree,..or disagree..

    Joyce: Cousin...we can be careful, but we can't be afraid, or the murderers have won.
    I am shocked you got that reaction in church...

     
  31. Sueann Says:
  32. I purposelly stayed away from The Couch on 9/11. I knew Vince would write about his experience. I could not bring myself to hear it, to know that a friend had experienced, first-hand, any of the fall-out from this horrible day! I apologize Vince, for being such a coward! I still worked for American Airlines at that time. I personally have "worked" 3 plane crashes as a volunteer for C.A.R.E. I just could not be here..please forgive me.

     

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