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Forget? How Could I Ever?

It was a beautiful late summer morning, a Tuesday. 

The kids were gone to school and my wife, and I were getting our morning started.  Since she had the day off and I was due in for the afternoon shift, the plan was to do something together in the hours available.

My wife was busy in the kitchen, listening to her morning radio program. I was in another room doing my morning exercises. I could hear the report on the radio of “a small plane hitting the building.”  Knowing the outrageous humor that the DJ was famous for, I wasn’t sure how to take this. Within moments, my wife called out, “Put on the TV, a plane hit the World Trade Center.”

I turned on the set to see smoke billowing from a gaping hole in the North Tower, wondering how such a thing could happen, especially on such a clear day. As I sat there in disbelief, listening as reporters on every station reported on the available information, another airliner appeared in the sky behind the towers. My first thought was that it was a jet taking off from Newark Airport. This impression was immediately dashed as the plane banked and flew into the other tower.

Oh my god! Wait! What the….?

My wife came into the room. We sat and watched in stunned silence, fixated, and trying to process what we were witnessing. So many questions flooded our thoughts over the next hour. How could this be happening? What about the people in the buildings? Do we know anyone (two of my brothers and so many friends and relatives were FDNY, as well as police, Con Edison, and other responders) down there? Can these buildings survive that kind of damage?

Over the next several hours, we watched in a mixed state of confusion, sadness, horror, and outrage as the unfolding events played out in real time.

What about our kids? Call the schools! Find out if they are okay.

The impact of what the country was experiencing was settling in and it was unimaginable.

That afternoon, all the roads, bridges and tunnels leading into and out of New York City were closed.  To bypass miles of traffic and backed up trucks, I threaded my way through side streets, closed ramps and across a median to get to the bridge that would take me north to work.  Showing my identification, and explaining my need, to the police officer on duty at the on-ramp, he cleared me to cross. It was a strange feeling being the only vehicle on this normally very busy crossing. As I crested the structure, I stopped and gazed at the smoky plume that rose from the spot normally occupied by two towers.

Like most traumatic situations that you are a part of or witness to, the events seemed to unfold in slow motion. However, in an instant, our world changed that day.

 “Never Forget” is a common refrain used to refer to that horrific attack on our nation.

Forget? There was so much loss, people that I knew, people that I worked alongside, places, memories, life…as we knew it.

How could I ever?

Terry Bellew

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