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Many things happened on 9/11, it was a truly devastating day for NYC, the U.S, and the whole world. To this day, I still see different conspiracy theories about how it was an inside job. While others still hold on to the belief that we should unite as a people like we did during 9/11 and kill all of our enemies. Many use 9/11 to promote anti Islam rhetoric, especially since we are in an election year!
This post isn’t going to get into all that, many people have already covered each of those topics. What they can’t do is tell you how I experienced that day, what I saw, and that’s what I intend to do.
Truthfully, 9/11 has become a vague memory to me. For a long time, it messed with my head, and like most things that cause us pain, I buried it into the recesses of my mind. The pain that I saw people going through, the tiny images of people jumping from the windows, the awareness that people were being burned, buried, or smashed alive, all that really hurt my soul. It was traumatic for me as a New Yorker, and much worse for those who were actually at the site. But, let’s try and tap into some of those memories as we discuss what I, as a regular, average Joe New Yorker observed during and since then.
When 9/11 happened, I was walking into 1251 Avenue of the Americas. I would take the train, and then walk directly into the building where I worked. It is all connected via a vast underground network of walkways and paths. The path I happen to take had 2 very large tv screens, and this was my very first exposure to what was happening.
The news was showing how an airplane crashed into one of the twin towers. I remember looking at this and thinking to myself, “This is another bullcrap stunt by someone looking to get some attention. No biggie, let’s keep it moving.” Then the second plane hit, and that’s when I thought to myself, “Oh crap, this is the real deal.” At that point I knew we were in trouble.
I carried on to the office, and from my window I could see the smoke coming up from downtown. I recall how they kept saying, “There is still another plane in the air.” Everyone from the office left, understandably. I, on the other hand, as the only tech that was there, stood around to support whomever remained. The towers fell, and I was in disbelief, I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. I wanted to leave, but my work ethic wouldn’t allow it. I knew, without a doubt that I would be needed here.
Later I learned news of the plane that hit the pentagon, and another that went down in a field in PA. Again, disbelief. How could this happen in the U.S? In New York City of all places. I was under the impression that we would have the capabilities to scramble jet fighters and take these guys out long before they could get anywhere near the WTC. I was wrong it would seem.
Soon thereafter, my company CIO, with nearly all of the top senior staff showed up to our midtown location. With all the planes seemingly down, they immediately began to implement our recovery plans. Once again, I was the only tech present, and our CIO tasked me with immediately setting up a command center in one of our conference rooms. I got to work setting up the computers and carrying out my tasks.
As I did this, I saw my then girlfriend who had recently had toe surgery walking towards me. She asked me what I was doing, and I explained to her that I had to remain, but that she should go home as the trains were now running again. I gave her a soft smile, and I could see that she wanted me with her. I have never forgotten that walk she took alone, it haunts me to this day. I’m sorry, I wish I could have been with you, but I had a job to do. I’m so terribly sorry. I loved you, and I hope that you knew this.
Once the command center was setup, the CEO, CIO, and other senior staff, still covered in soot, began to handle their tasks of planning. My next task would be to build and deploy several hundred machines for the day after. The plan was to have essential personnel come in to work, while the others would either work from home, or await further notice. We absorbed hundreds of new users. I think I went home at 9pm or later, I don’t recall.
The next day we received the shipment of computers, and thus began the arduous task of building and deploying all of those computers to our new users. They would be arriving the next day, so we had to work hard and fast. Fortunately, by this time, several other technicians were on hand to help out with the project. No one wanted to be there, but there was a job to do, and unbeknownst to us all, the way we did things in the technology side of things was about to change forever.
Should something like this ever happen again, we needed to have our users able to get up and running right away. Thus came the new term, at least new to me, “Disaster Recovery Site.” Going forward, we would implement, and test a separate site, that was a mirror setup of all of our “essential users” workspace. Several times a year, we would take a trip to one of the DR sites, and the users would have to work from there. In addition to that, several times a year, they’d completely cut off the power to the building, run solely on generators, and ensure that the users could work. The corporate machine refuses to stop for anyone or anything, including airplanes being used as giant projectile missiles. I mean, we have to keep making that money, right?
The days and weeks that followed, things began to get normalized at work. Our new users were functional, stable, and we were just taking it one day at a time. In the real world, the reality of what happened began to affect us all. President George Bush was rallying the American people, and pushing us into going to Afghanistan to take out the terror training camps and hunt down Bin Laden. A task that would take much, much longer than his presidency to accomplish.
Americans began to sign up for the military, angry, and determined to exact vengeance against those who committed these atrocities against us. As I visited my son and his mom, I remember seeing posters on walls, doors, and all over. There were so many people missing, and family members were desperately searching and hoping for a miracle. It was so heartbreaking to see. Most of those prayers were never answered, and sadly, most of the people, civilian, and first-responder alike who were at the site, lost their lives.
Those who managed to get out alive, were later afflicted with other forms of 9/11 related illnesses, coughs, and lung problems. It was a devastating atrocity carried out not by any one tangible enemy, but by an ideology, a view, a hatred for our way of life. At least that is what we are lead to believe. The truth, well it probably lies in the middle somewhere, just as with everything in life.
Was 9/11 a conspiracy? Was it a terrorist attack? I can’t answer this, I know only what I “saw,” and what has been shared by the propaganda machine of the government, aka, the media.
What I do know for sure, is that 9/11 changed our lives forever. Not only did it take countless lives, it drove us into wars, it changed the way we do business, and it allowed the government new and unprecedented power into “monitoring” all of our lives. Say certain things online, outside, in email, over the phone, and possibly even in your dreams, and you may be getting a knock on the door from Uncle Sam. Are you a Muslim, well, you could be accused of planning a terrorist attack, and taken, no questions asked. In the interest of national security of course.
Our world as we know it, was forever changed after 9/11. Is it part of some vast conspiracy to grant the government unlimited power and control? Who the hell knows? New World Order? Maybe 50 years from now the “truth” may come out, or maybe we already know it? I don’t know!
Anyway, as another 9/11 anniversary approaches, I’d like to take a moment to send a thank you to all those who risked their lives to save others. I’d like to send condolences to all those who lost loved ones on that day. To the rest of us that remain, well, live your life as best you can, and know that tomorrow is never guaranteed.
Growing Up Bronx