Originally posted on 9/11/16:
It’s hard to believe that it has been 16 years since 9/11.
It’s the seminal coming of age moment for any Millennial who can tell you exactly where they were, just like my grandparents could say when JFK was assassinated. My youngest brother was born in 2002, he’s now part of a class of high school freshman who will only know of 9/11 from the history books.
I was a 16 year old in Yeshiva in Los Angeles when Rabbi Thaler came running down the hallway in our dilapidated YOEC dormitory waking everyone up while screaming about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.
My father wasn’t one to send me thousands of miles away from home without a cell phone, and he obtained permission for me to have a Motorola TalkAbout. As far as I know, I was the only person in the Yeshiva to have a cell phone at the time. Radios and TVs were verboten of course, and I wound up being the source of information for my fellow students and teachers on that horrible morning.
The phone had 3 lines of text to view news articles with and I burned through my 350 monthly anytime minutes talking to my Mom as she was glued to the news.
Earlier in the year, I had written a report in high school on the threat of Sunni and Shiite terrorism, but it was absolutely terrifying to listen to it unfold in real time on American soil.
I was dumbfounded as the news-anchors discussed whether it was an accident or intentional. How could 2 jumbo jets accidentally fly into the Twin Towers?
And I shuddered as I heard the noise of towers collapsing while on the phone with my Mom.
Then it really hit home as reports came in of either a Delta or United hijacked flight that had landed in Cleveland, though those were later debunked by everyone except the conspiracy theorists. United 93 did cross over Cleveland airspace before turning around and crashing in Pennsylvania. I don’t cry when watching movies, but I sure did when watching United 93.
I visited the 9/11 museum last October and hearing the voicemails that doomed people left for their loved ones had me tearing up again. It’s worth a visit to make sense of the craziness of the day.
United offers an Air Traffic Control audio feed on channel 9 on select planes and one FlyerTalk passenger shares his story of what he heard on channel 9 while flying on 9/11.
My Uncle had a job offer to switch from a competitor to Cantor Fitzgerald and start on 9/1. Cantor was based on the top floors of the North Tower and lost 658 employees on that horrific day. My Uncle’s boss agreed to double his salary to get him to stay and not move to Cantor Fitzgerald, which likely wound up saving his life. He was across the street from the WTC on 9/11 and fled after the planes hit, though he knew dozens that died on that day and lost a few close friends as well. Once further uptown he stopped for a shot of Vodka before donating blood to the Red Cross. While there he wound up taking charge and volunteered to setup and run an emergency Red Cross call center for several days until things returned to normal.
His wife was setting up a booth at a conference in Windows on the World on the morning of 9/11. Her boss sent her home as they had sufficient people to man the booth. She left the WTC at 8:30am that morning. Her colleagues at the booth all perished in the attack.
Cops stood guard by my LA Yeshiva that day, prepared for anything else that might be planned. The rumors and confusion ran wild.
My father sent me back to Yeshiva after the Sukkos holidays with Cipro due to the Anthrax attacks that started a week after 9/11. He even sent me with 2 Atropine shots in case of a nerve gas attack. Crazy times they were.
Where were you on 9/11? Share your memories in the comments.