Sunday, September 11, 2005

From a Rooftop in Brooklyn

American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 AM September 11, 2001

This is a letter we sent out 9/15/01 to friends and family in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. All mistakes and errors were in the original.

First, we'd like to thank everyone who sent us notes of concern, and called to
make sure that everyone was OK. The old network of friends and family was really
buzzing over the past few days, and it has been *such* a comfort to know that
everyone is there. We are physically fine.
Emotionally. . .

At about quarter to nine on Tuesday morning we were gearing up to be in work at the crack of 10:20. We had finished our run, and were showering up when the announcer on WNYC announced that there had been an explosion at the WTC. I ran to the front of the apratment -- we could see the towers from there in the winter, when leves were off the trees -- and a plume of smoke was rising into the sky. I put my shoes on, and ran up onto the roof, with N right behind.

The day was crystalline. You could see the individual columns of the buildings' metal
facade, and you could see the debris hanging out the gaping holes. Perhaps, one
of the most amazing visions from this horrible day is the site of millions of
sheets of paper fluttering into the air, and being caught by the wind. They
sparkled. It was almost like the souls of all those people were escaping.

I snapped some shots, we stood on our roof, shaking, horrified and
uncomprehending when suddenly we heard the turbines of another jet whining off
to our left. Even more confused now, I turned off to look and saw a United
Airlines jet -- Blue and gray, with the multi colored "U" on the tail, this was
UAL 175 -- streaking up the harbor, over the docks of Red Hook towards WTC 2. I
thought "Oh, he's low. He must be going to see what happened. . . wait, jets
don't do that, he's going to Newark, he'll go below the tip of the island, oh my
god! he's going to hit the buildings on the east river oh my god! he's going
into the other tower!. . ." This passed through my mind in a second, I swear to
you all, and then he waggled his wings -- this is a salute pilots give, he
dipped his wings in a little wave, and then he slammed into the building. We saw
the fire ball, then heard the boom, and then felt the concussion.

In the days following we have witnessed so much pain and suffering, and so much
compassion, and understanding. I have been to within 3 blocks of the pile. IT
was hot and dusty and acrid smelling. There were dozens of iron workers trying
to get in to help, nearly brawling wiht the cops and National Guardsmen who
wouldn't let them in. THere was a guy playing a guitar near a salvation army
comfort truck. THe air allegedly contained 800 PPM asbestos -- but everyone
wanted to get onto that pile, no one wanted to leave. I toured the relief
centers at Chelsea Pieres and at Salvation Army HQ on W 14 St trying to drop off
aspirin and soap -- they said they needed it -- and saw so many volunteers off
loading trucks filled with food and water flashlights. On Wednesday, Nancy and I
made cookies for one of the fire houses -- co. 205, on Middagh St., Brooklyn
Heights -- we guessed correctly that were probably on the scene early. They lost
seven men. I walked by another company on W 10 St. -- the door was closed,
covered in flowers and surrounded by candles. I don't even know how many are
lost. I sat on the sidewalk and wept. We saw a picture of the destroyed ladder
truck of the "Happy Hookers" from Red Hook on TV. We often shopped alongside
them at the super market. . . again, I don't know how many they lost, but their
truck was in ruins.

It's almost too much to bear. THe pain, the anguish,
the suffering. THe streets are blanketed in makeshift posters of people
searching for loved ones. All of those beautiful smiling peopple, loved by many,
lost. The acrid smell of fire and destruction blows into our apartment when the
wind shifts -- our neghborhood was covered in thick ash and papers from the
towers on Tuesday, amost like a snow storm, but so awful. I fear what the wind
will carry with it as time passes. As I said, it's almost too much to bear, but
knowing that there is a network of friends and family out there, thinking of us
and praying for us, and for the nation makes it seem as if, despite everything,
we'll be OK. We'll dust ourselves off, and continue. We're Americans, that's
what we do.

Having witnessed this atrocity first hand, awakened by
sirens every morning, and hoping that somehow this will all be just one big
nightmare that dissipates in the beautiful fall light that has characterized
every day but Friday, since the attack, I'd like to make one comment: We should
never forget this. We should never permit oursleves to slide back into the lax
attitudes and self satisfaction that typified us before the attack. The best has
been brought out in America by this most awful of events. People are basically
good. Our reaction typifies this. We should rigorously maintain this sense of
mission and Brotherhood. We will need it in the days, weeks, and I think, the
years to come, as we begin our move to payback those that have done this to us.

As with everything, time moves on, and as Broadway demonstrated Thursday
night, the show must go on. We are leaving for a vacation, today. We leave with
heavy hearts, and distinct sense of guilt, but we have planned this, and we will
go. If we don't, evil wins (FYI, Vermont, 2 wks. and we're driving). New York
will be here when we get back, the hole in our skyline, and our hearts will be
here, and so will America.

Thanks to everyone for your words, and
thought and prayers. Please pray for the victims, their families and the rescue
workers. Thank a cop or fireman, EMT, doctor or nurse the next time you see one
-- who else runs into a building that everyone else in the world runs away from?
Give blood. Make a donation to the Red Cross, or Salvation Army. Remember
September 11, 2001.

God Bless America.

Love -- N & T

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