Shawn’s Memories of being In New York on 9/11

It’s Shawn.  I host the afternoon show here at KRMD, and I was living in New York City on 9/11.  In fact, my wife volunteered with the Red Cross at what they called “the pile” for three months straight after the terrorist attack.  She helped feed the first responders that were digging through the rubble and trying to locate their friends.  I had been in the World Trade Center a few hours before the towers came down.  It was where I waited for a train on the platform underneath their 110 stories.  I was doing a radio show at Z-100 around 9:00 AM when the first plane hit.  I was on the 36th floor and we faced a large picture window that framed the WTC.  So something that you probably saw on television I witnessed live.  I can’t say we knew immediately what had happened, but when the second plane hit one of the members of the morning show let out a scream that I can still hear clearly in my mind til this day.  The heroism that was performed by so many people that day needs to be remembered, because we in the South have a tendancy to believe Northerners are cold and mean.  All I saw on that day and for days after were constant acts of people helping each other.  Digging. Carrying the wounded.  We went to give blood.  Thousands of us.  We put up posters in the subway for the missing.  We let people sleep on our couches because the city was closed down and they could not get home.  And we all did it while being extremely sad.  Devastatingly sad.  I remember that the most: being so so sad.  I remember everyone being in a hurry to “not let the terrorists win.”  That we needed to get back to normal life as fast as possible or else the terrorists would have gotten what they wanted: an upheaval of America.  And that wasn’t necessarily wrong to believe, but we all seemed to be allowed to grieve, but only as long as we were on the way to not being grief-stricken.  I don’t think I ever stopped being grief-stricken.  I walked through five towns in New Jersey that day to, ironically, try to get back into Manhattan while everyone else was trying to get out.  I didn’t know where else to go.  That’s where I lived.  I got to the George Washington Bridge, which was the first bridge I thought would open because it was the farthest from the crime scene.  It was and it did, but I don’t remember consciously planning this trek.  I just started walking.  As we all waited for the bridge to open, these men wearing all black and carrying automatic weapons separated us by gender.  They then announced that no one was bringing a weapon into New York City on this particular day, and that people would have to surrender their guns and knives before boarding the bus that would just take us over the bridge and drop us off in Manhattan.  I watched people throw their guns and knives (And there were many) into a cardboard box.  They weren’t tagged.  The guns weren’t marked.  People were never going to see their property again…and they still did it because, judging by the lack of an insignia on the uniform of the people dressed in black, they were not messing around.  This was different.  So people did it so they could see their families.  Those people in that black uniform only come out when things are this different.  It’s been 18 years now, which I really can’t believe.  And for those 18 years, I have to admit, I have been different.

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