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Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11: My story

I’ve wanted to write about 9/11 for a long time, but become too emotional to write about it. After yesterday's tenth year anniversary, watching documentaries about that horrible day, and crying, I felt it was time to reflect and share my story.

September 11, 2001

"Everyone must evacuate from the train! There's been an explosion at the World Trade Center! Everybody get out!" The train stopped suddenly in the tunnel. We just left Nassau St on the G train when the conductor walked quickly through the train car telling us to get out. The train began to slowly pull into Greenpoint Ave. A woman was crying heavily as the doors opened. She sat holding her arms together moaning, "My babies, my children!" As women tried comforting her people rushed off the train. She said her baby was at a daycare center at WTC. I felt nauseous and worried for her. Before I could approach the woman, I was being pushed from people trying to get off the train. As I left the station, I saw big black smoke in the sky. I said aloud, "What's going on!" Suddenly I was on a bus. I don't remember how I got there. I only remember the bus driver saying "Get on, no fare." Then I turned on my walkman and a news reporter said, "One of the twin towers have collapsed." I lost grip of the handrail and became emotional. When the bus turned on Tompkins Ave., I knew I was on the B43 bus. I got off at my stop, and ran to my building. I could hardly get the key through the door. Once I got inside, I picked up the house phone and called my mom's job number. There was no answer. I called my dad, he was at work. He told me not to worry and that he couldn't come home. He was a security officer. I panicked because my mom works around the corner from WTC. I turned on the TV and saw the second tower fall. I sat on a chair and tears fell from my face. I yelled, "Oh my God! Mom please be alright. Oh God, please don't let my mom die!" I cried heavily. About 20 minutes later, which felt like hours, the phone ranged. I answered and it was mom. She sounded scared and confused. She assured me she was alright, and a man and his wife pulled her and others into their home. She told me she would try calling again and to stay by the phone. I told her I loved her. The phone disconnected. I cried more.

It was evening and no phone calls, no brother, no mom. My brother was in high school in Midtown. The house was empty and dark. I hadn't turned on the lights. I felt like I was in mourning. The images of people running through the gray soot made me think that mom was part of that crowd. I didn't eat or drink anything. I waited by the phone. The bell rings and it was mom. I rushed to the door and there stood mom and her co-worker. Both covered in gray soot, quiet, and sad. I hugged them both. They had walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, and continued to walk from downtown to home. I brought out peroxide and towels, and wiped mom's arms and face. I don't remember when mom's co-worker left. I only remember mom sitting in the chair, resting her head onto her hand, still and not saying much. I remember the tears running down her face every time she attempted to describe what she saw, what she experienced, and incredible fear. Later that night, my brother called saying he was okay and was staying at a friend's house in upper Manhattan. He wanted to come home but couldn't. All trains had stopped running. My dad didn’t come home either; he had to do an overnight shift. The next day, my brother received a ride home, my dad came in from work, and I was in my room. My mom was in the living room. There was no music, no television. She sat in the lightly dimmed room crying silently. Although I was happy she survived such a horrific day, I felt heartbroken for her. The World Trade Center was where she started her career of 30 years. She made friends, shopped, and attended events there. Now it no longer stands. She lost a co-worker, a place to escape the everyday routine, and good memories. Later that day, mom told me she saw the second tower fall from a window in that man and wife’s home. When it happened she said aloud, “The towers are no more? The towers are no more?" and cried.

So many lives were lost on September 11, 2001. My mom's life was spared. I’m grateful that God kept her here with us. Sadly, many families lost their loved ones. I pray for the victims, the heroes, the survivors, and I pray for New York City. September 11th was a day that mirrored hatred. However, it brought unity and strength amongst people across the nation, and love for one another. That love overshadowed the hatred that attacked us. Ten years later, ten years young, the memory of 9/11 is still fresh, the emotions still raw. For survivors, like my mom, September 11th will always be part of their memory. That day, the lives lost, will never be forgotten.


  1. Dara, Thank you for sharing your feelings. How difficult it must have been to not just have lived through the experience, but to have written about it again. As I read your words I feel your hurt, your fear, and your sadness. I cannot know what you went through. I am thankful for all those who survived and mourn all those who did not and their families.

  2. Wow, your words are so poignant.
    911 will always be etched in my memory and I will carry the memories of that day in my heart forever. I thank God to be alive and for all those who lost their lives will always be in my prays. Amen.