I was working in Midtown West. Saw everything, unfortunately. The air was full of scorched papers fluttering down even this far away - one of my co-workers found an admission ticket to the WTC observation deck that had been blown all the way to us. He made photocopies of the ticket for all of us and I numbly accepted one.
The sounds were the worst. All eight lanes of the West Side Highway were now a one-way racetrack for emergency vehicles, sirens shrieking relentlessly.... I heard them in my dreams for long afterwards.
And then the Zeus thunderclap of an F/A18-E Super Hornet, from a Navy base upstate, circling like a child's paper toy so small in the distance.
A high school friend of mine died in the Cantor Fitzgerald offices. He was 22. His mother wrote this on our hometown's memorial wall:
"My dearest ____,
I love you and I miss you.
My heart is broken forever.
My company closed due to the destruction of NYC tourism and business in general. I spent most of my first 18 months out of college living with my parents collecting unemployment.
One year later, Sept. 2002, at Rosh Hashanah services the rabbi gave a sermon like I'd never heard before. Between the attacks, and the anthrax, and the war, and psychological damage... he wasn't really talking about scripture, not about moral lessons or parallels or the usual stuff. Instead he was basically praying on his own - begging God to listen to his people and help them have a better year than the last one had been. It was such a small thing to ask for, so mundane and, if you will, secular, but asked so heartfeltly and with such emotion by this man who I'd always seen as an authority, wise, confident....
I cried as I listened. My parents cried with me.
"Don't think it hasn't been a little slice of Heaven just because it hasn't!" --Bugs Bunny