I was sound asleep. I was a 20 year old college student on that Tuesday morning, still living at home. I didn’t have class until that afternoon. I didn’t work that day. So I was in bed like a normal 20 year old college kid. I remember being woken up because I heard my mother in the house. She was crying. To this day, I will never forget coming downstairs, asking her what was wrong, and the total feeling of disbelief that engulfed me when she told me what happened. I remember the surreal feeling that set in the rest of the day just watching TV as a rescue operation turned into a salvage operation turned into a smoldering, smoking wound in the heart of our city. After that Tuesday, I will always understand what people mean when they say they always remember exactly where they were when Pearl Harbor was bombed or John F. Kennedy was shot.
I’d only been to the World Trade Center once, way back in 1997, with my grandparents and my uncle. I remember going on the roof and how you could see so far out to everywhere. I think I took a whole roll’s worth of pictures that day. I wish I knew where they are today. That view was utterly breathtaking.
There’s a point when you’re driving up Rt 1-9 northbound between Woodbridge and Rahway, just when you cross over the NJ Coast railroad tracks where, on a clear day, you could always see the twin towers standing tall over the NYC skyline. I always remember that from driving through there growing up with my family, and later with just myself. After the attacks, that view was… empty, devoid of its centerpiece. It sat like that for years. Tonight, as we were driving home over that very same stretch of road, we could see the annual tribute in lights shining into the night’s sky, right next to the gleaming phoenix of the new 1WTC tower, finally rising defiantly to reclaim the southern Manhattan sky.