Remembering 9/11, My Story
During the Summer of 2001, I was working at a local radio station in Teaneck, New Jersey and attending seminars that were held at the World Trade Center in New York. At the time, I was thinking of starting my own business, I just ended a 26 year stint at a company in New York. Since I lived in Edgewater, New Jersey, I always had a birds eye view of the city and the World Trade towers.
During this time, my dear aunt Marie, was recovering from breast cancer and was having serious heart issues. On Monday, September 10th I got a call from my aunt reminding me that she had a follow up appointment at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ to review the status of her cancer. She had just completed radiation treatments. The appointment was the morning of September 11th. I reminded her that I had a meeting at the World Trade Center at 8:30 the next day which was September 11th. My aunt told me to go to my meeting and she would reschedule her appointment. I insisted on rescheduling mine. She finally convinced me to go to my meeting. I hung the phone up and a strange feeling came over me. I promptly called my aunt back and told her not to cancel her appointment, I would reschedule my meeting and would pick her up at about 8:20. She agreed, We hung up and I left a message with my advisor over at the Trade Center telling her I'd like to reschedule my appointment to Thursday, September 13th. As we all know, that never happened.
The morning of the September 11th was a clear picture perfect day with cool temperatures. I got in my car and started to make my way up the Palisades to pick up my aunt who lived about two miles away. I was riding along the Hudson River. Suddenly I heard the roar of a jet engine so loud that I felt as if I were at an airport. The noise was coming from the Hudson River which was just to my right. I paused and tried to look to see if I could see a plane. There were lots of trees so I couldn't really see but the roar of the engines were intense. Commericiall airliners never fly over the Hudson near the George Washington Bridge especially ones that were that low. Something wasn't right so I popped the radio dial to 1010 WINS, the news station in New York. Within a few moment, I heard the announcer say that a plane hit the World Trade Center. I made my way to Palisades Park and picked up my aunt. We listened closely to the story unfold as we made our way to the hospital. When we arrived, there was a crowd in the lobby looking up at the TV screen. That's when the horror unfolded before our eyes. We watched in disbelief and a weakness came over me. I couldn't believe my eyes! We saw both towers collapse. It was the most unbelievable sight I had ever witnessed. Some people in to lobby began to cry. My eyes also filled up with tears. I knew we were under attack and we didn't know what was coming next.
At about 10:30, I dropped my aunt off back home and already the police presence was seen throughout Bergen County, NJ. I parked my car, walked down to the river and saw the effects of the greatest attack on our country unfold before my eyes. The clear blue sky had now turned gray. Smoke was billowing out everywhere and was making it's way down the Hudson. A few residents stood with me and were silent. The shock was overwhelming!
I went back into my apartment and immediately my phone rang. It was my Program Director, from WVNJ, the radio station where I worked. His voice was shaky and he asked if I could come in to cover the events taking place in New York. As I made my way toward the station, some roads were already blocked. To get through, I had to explain to police that I worked at WVNJ and had to cover the events taking place at the trade center. They let me through and in some cases I had to show ID.
I finally got to the station which took over an hour for the usually 20 minute trip. I was on the air until mid nite. regular programming was preempted as we ran coverage of the attack. I broke in with local updates and informed our local listeners of the situation taking place in Bergen County. Mid-nite came and I switched back to our big bands/standards programming. As I left the building, there was an eerie silence as I walked to my car. I saw the glow of red lights everywhere. As I made my way home, every street was blocked off! It looked like a war zone. At each intersection, I had to explain to the officers that I was headed home to Edgewater and just got off the air at WVNJ. The trip took about an hour and a half.
I felt some relief as I drove into the parking lot in my building at about 1:30 in the morning. As I left my car, the air had an arid smell in it. I knew the smoke from this tragedy had made it's way down the river. Even out lobby contained this smell. I was happy to be home but was drained, still shaky and filled with emotion and sadness.
The next morning, I spoke to my aunt and she said "I guess I was your guardian angel." Indeed she was. If she hadn't called to remind me of her appointment, I would have made my way to those towers at the exact time those planes hit! I grieve for the loss of all of those innocent people and think of all of those families who never got to say goodbye to their loved ones, It haunts me as it haunts most of us to this very day. We will never forget! Aunt Marie passed away in January of 2002. I was glad that I had a few months before I would start another full time job to be with her.