10 years ago, this day, this hour, this minute, our lives were forever changed. I’ll never forget that day.
I was a truck Driver for Franklin Trucking, back home in Buffalo. On of our accounts was hauling parts from American Axle, and I was backed into one of their docks, waiting to get loaded.
It was a beautiful day, much like it is today. Sunny, warm, blue skies. The truck I drove, well, frankly it was a piece of junk. The radio didn’t even work, so I sat there with the windows down, reading the paper, when suddenly, my phone rang and it was my Mother.
She was crying, and asked me if I had heard what happened. She then proceeded to tell me that a plane had flown into The World trade Center. There was a huge fire there and another had just flown into The Pentagon. She said that she didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t know how take this, so I told her that I’d go into the plant. There was a TV in the break room, and i hung up and ran into a deserted facility. Nobody was in sight, until i made my way to the break room, and there, surrounding the 2 TV’s mounted from the ceiling were about 75 somber people.
A live newscast showed a camera shot of black smoke and flames pouring out of Tower 1. Peter Jennings was somber as he reported on the event. There was no talk about the pentagon yet. As we watched, they turned to the Pentagon report with an inset view of the WTC when suddenly, another plane flew into the tower. Gasps of “Oh My God!” “Oh No!” and “What is happening?” resounded throughout the room as we saw the ensuing explosion, and we all knew at once that it was an attack.
In the confusion, and from the camera angle, we thought it was the same tower that had been hit and it was a good minute before it was confirmed that it had been Tower 2. The conversation then changed as we all began to guess at who it was, and even in that moment, we all knew it was Islamic Terrorists and Osama Bin Laden.
Most of us sat gathered around those televisions for hours, occasionally walking outside to have a cigarette, or to take a minute alone to try to maintain our composure. I remember that some people had drifted back to their work stations and were listening to the radio. At that time, Howard Stern was still on public radio, and most were listening to his show on the CBS News affiliate. Normally, his show ended at 10AM, but he stayed on the air that day until after noon. Several people on his cast had left, because of the fear that the tower they broadcast from in Midtown could be a target. News reports kept feeding us confusing information about other planes in the air that weren’t accounted for. At one point, there was a report that there could be up to 7 hijacked planes, all headed for major US Cities.
Sometime after 2 PM, I was fully loaded and headed back towards our yard, downtown. there’s a highway, Route 33 that runs into the city, and as I drove, remember feeling displaced into a surreal state of mind. Everything seemed so quiet and peaceful. Traffic was light and as I came into view of the city, I could see the HSBC Bank building, Buffalo’s tallest, standing there in the sun. My mind pictured a plane headed for that 38 story tower, and I couldn’t shake the feeling of dread that had over-taken me. At many street corners, there was a single police car, lights on. The few people I saw were obviously shaken by the days events.
I got back to the shop, parked the truck and went inside and everyone seemed to be in the same ghost like state. Although it was early, my day was finished. There would be no more loads as most places had released their people or had not not gotten a load ready for anyone to pick up, so I walked outside, in the parking lot, under the shadow of the bank, and just stared. Several people had walked up and we had brief conversations but for the most part, I was alone, inside my own mind.
It took a long, long time before I could stop staring at that tower every time I saw it. It took longer for me to question whether every plane I saw was going up or coming down. Those images and the feelings of hat day are seared into my memory forever.
I will never forget.
From September 11, 2011