Remembering...

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Saturday, September 11, 2010

FIRST PUBLISHED ON 9/11/2006:


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 seS 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 WE were watching the TV, at 9:59 am, we watched in horror as the South Tower collapsed 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 tried my cell phone, but it was 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 headed upstairs to our old offices to help one of the ladies get some things. When we got 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 Times 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 part of 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 from New Jersey 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 into New York. 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 NINE 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.

Each year I have watched the reading of the names.  I am compelled to do so.
OH and I support the building of the Mosque in downtown Manhattan...because I live in a country where all religions and races and genders are honored with equality.  We can not pick and choose who is covered by our Bill Of Rights. 

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.


And the license plate from NJ. I had this plate since 1997, but on September 11, 2001 it took on a special meaning when I finally returned from the City and looked at it.


Since that day, it has stood for
Remember
Forever
911
Terrorism

9 Of Your Sparks

  1. Twyla Says:
  2. Wow.
    I have my own memories of that day. But to have been in the city at that time...I just can't imagine. I was due with my first daughter on that day (she was born 11 days later), and everytime her birthday rolls around, it's a reminder of that horrible day. I pray that we never see another one like it.

     
  3. I've read it numerous times over the years, Vinny, and it always touches me...

     
  4. TechnoBabe Says:
  5. Things changed so much in this country, and people changed. We all have our memories of where we were that day when we learned what was taking place and we all have our feelings about everything we all went through because of it. I looked at a collage of pictures of the children who died that day. Life does go on, but it is never the same.

     
  6. Travis Cody Says:
  7. When I was in NY on business a couple of years ago, I stayed at the Marriott right next door to the WTC construction site. I saw the courtyard dome that has been relocated to Battery Park.

    I can't describe what it's like to be there. I was in the city for 5 days, and each day I walked past the park and then up the blvd to the hotel. It was a couple of days before I realized why the walk was so unsettling. It finally occurred to me that it was because I was walking the direct route that I saw on TV that day. It was the exact view that had been dominated by the burning buildings.

    And it was the blank skyline that was unsettling.

     
  8. DrillerAA09 Says:
  9. This is a brilliant post and I am glad that I stopped by today to read it.
    I am watching some specials on the History channel this morning. I don't think anyone in this country will forget where they were when they got the first news of what had happened. Indeed God Bless America.

     
  10. Mimi Lenox Says:
  11. You just took your readers on an emotional journey. I can't imagine what it must have been like for you.
    I want this day, too, to be over and yet we do a disservice to those who perished if we wish it away.
    Lest we forget.

    Peace.

     
  12. Dianne Says:
  13. one fellow NYer to another - hugs Vinny

     
  14. Dianne Says:
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.  
  16. Julie Says:
  17. Just like when I read the Bible, Vinny....your account affects me differently each time. It's where my head is at the time. I need to remember to keep my kleenex near though. **hugs** I hope you found some goodness during this weekend. I know it was tough for you.

     

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