Posted by Clearskies on September 11, 2016, at 23:12:29
In reply to 9/11, posted by SLS on September 11, 2016, at 6:31:07
> My father is still alive.
> Until yesterday, my fathers office was located on the north side of the
> 78th floor of One World Trade Center, the first tower to be hit. Had it
> been located any higher, he would be dead. I phoned him within the first
> minute of my seeing the news break on CNN. It was fortuitous that I had
> decided to switch the channel to watch the news. I had become
> disinterested in the episode of a M.A.S.H. rerun that I was watching, for
> I had already seen it a dozen times or so. My father had no idea what had
> happened. He and his co-workers were not terribly alarmed before I called.
> However, they knew something had happened because they felt the building
> shake a bit. At first, I figured the tower had been hit by one of the many
> small private planes that frequently fly up and down the Hudson River,
> usually at altitudes substantially lower than the top of the building. My
> father often remarked at how strange it was to be able to watch these
> planes fly below eye level. I wasnt particularly alarmed either,
> especially in light of how a similar event occurred at the 79th floor of
> the Empire State Building years ago with very little sequelae.
> No sooner had I hung up the phone, when one of the commentators reported
> that the plane might have been a Boeing 767. I immediately called back my
> father. By that time, he and his co-workers had decided to leave the
> building. I actually delayed their departure by thirty seconds or so
> because my father had to return to his office to answer the phone. I went
> back to watching CNN. As I was watching, the silhouette of an airplane
> caught my eye coming into view from the right. I remember thinking that it
> was just someone in another one of those small planes flying by, probably
> there to gawk at the damaged building and the fire that was raging between
> the 95th and 100th floors. Within seconds, a huge explosion occurred on
> the left side of the screen. It was Two World Trade Center, the south
> tower. I hadnt made the connection, but I was worried that my father
> might just be reaching the floor opposite this fireball. Still, I was not
> terribly worried. The World Trade Center was invincible. February 26, 1993
> had proved that. Then, CNN said something about two planes being involved.
> Why should I worry? It was probably just some other fool in a Cessna.
> I didnt know what to be more afraid of - the burning of the building or
> my father having to climb down 78 flights of stairs. It had been only
> three weeks since he underwent cardiac surgery to place a stent in a
> previously grafted bypass. Somewhere in my mind, I hoped that he would die
> quickly, and prayed that he shouldnt be burned alive. I figured it might
> be too much to ask that the elevators would still be working. Of course,
> taking an elevator would have been the worst thing he could have done. For
> some reason, though, I began to think and act as if everything would be
> alright, and that my father would call and come home that evening - just
> like always. This was not some sort of justified optimism, though. I dont
> think my mind would permit any other thoughts.
> He had just taken one step out the exit of the lobby when he was literally
> blown back through the door by what must have been a hurricane-force wind.
> The south tower had just at that moment collapsed. Lethal debris blew by
> him harmlessly, as he watched from the other side of the glass. Had he
> arrived at the door thirty seconds earlier - the thirty seconds I had
> delayed him with my second phone call - he would be dead. By this time, I
> was already with my mother at my parents house. It was difficult to know
> what to think, how to think, what to feel. I guess I am by nature a
> positive person. I think this is somehow different from being optimistic.
> I began to develop a timeline in my mind, looking at my wrist-watch every
> few minutes as I monitored the events unfolding on the television. I knew
> the building well. I had been in it or under it almost every day for
> several years when I worked downtown. I remember walking through the maze
> of unfinished corridors, ever-changing and partitioned by walls of
> hastily-erected green-painted plywood, as year by year they constructed
> the underground shopping mall and beautified the new subway stations. I
> approached the whole thing with a sort of logic based upon my knowledge of
> the building and its surroundings. As each minute passed, I became more
> and more optimistic that my father would make it out in time. I prayed
> that he would think to leave the area immediately rather than remain near
> the building to watch what was going on a thousand feet over his head.
> There reached a point in time when I predicted my father would just be
> reaching the bottom of the building and on his way out. He was safe, as
> long as he would retreat to a location sufficiently far from the building
> to avoid the falling debris. I had in my mind an image of him standing
> across the street in the park on Liberty Street, or perhaps on Church
> Street near the coffee shop on the corner. This was far too close.
> However, I couldnt imagine that he would do anything different than what
> New Yorkers always do - watch.
> Then something monstrous happened. Orange-brown smoke filled the air with
> explosive force. A panoramic view of downtown Manhattan showed it to be
> almost entirely lost within a cloud of what looked like dirt. I couldnt
> figure out what had happened. I couldnt believe that any kind of bomb
> could produce such an event. How can this be? I had to assume that it was
> indeed a bomb, because no other idea came to mind. What I couldnt figure
> out, though, was the color of the smoke. I couldnt account for it. I told
> my mother that I was now very much more worried about this new explosion
> than the events occurring above in the towers. If my father was indeed in
> the park or near the coffee shop, he would surely be dead. Thirty seconds.
> As the cloud began to dissipate, it became horrifically evident that the
> south tower was gone. It had imploded and collapsed to the ground. Now, I
> hoped that I underestimated the time that it takes to climb down 78
> flights of stairs. Logically, I knew that if everything had gone just
> right, he could possibly still be alive. Logically, it WAS possible. I
> explained to my mother how things might have happened, and that Dad was
> still OK because he was probably still in the north tower when the south
> tower collapsed. To have hope, and to relieve us of the hysteria that had
> been building up to a crescendo, we were counting on my father still being
> in the north tower. We enjoyed several minutes of reprise. I remember my
> lungs filling completely with air as I sighed with relief. Then, right
> before our eyes, we watched in disbelief as One World Trade Center, an
> icon of the indestructible and a mammoth of invincibility, collapsed like
> a house of cards into nothingness. In our minds and hearts, so went my
> father. My mother began to cry. I hugged her in solace with the
> recognition of defeat and irreconcilable loss. Still, I hoped that somehow
> my father would emerge from this catastrophe unscathed. He always seems
> to land on his feet and beat the odds. We expect him to. He did.
> He called from a hotel located 5 blocks uptown. At the time, my mother was
> in the kitchen while I remained in the den, continuing to watch the
> television. People were calling the house every few minutes - friends,
> family, and co-workers. Suddenly, my mother began screaming hysterically.
> Without a doubt, it sounded as if she had just received confirmation that
> her husband - her lifemate - was dead and gone forever. But I knew better.
> Logic dictated to me that it was my father on the phone, for a
> confirmation of death so soon under the circumstances of tumult and
> disorganization surrounding the events was unlikely. I smiled with relief
> and my eyes filled with tears of joy, even before my mother stopped
> screaming and gave hint that it was indeed my father on the phone. It
> couldnt have been more than five minutes that passed before I fell into a
> chair, completely exhausted and limp, as the adrenaline quickly
> disappeared from my blood stream.
> Thank God that today, my family and I are still living the lives that are
> familiar to us. I guess I just wanted to relate to others what it was like
> to be so close to such a disaster. We are so lucky. So, so lucky.
> My heart aches for all of you who were not as lucky as we were. I dont
> know what else I can say, except Im sorry. I can grieve with you, because
> for a short while, I did.
Thank you once again for sharing this incredible story.