It was a day like any other. Not a cloud in the sky. I woke up early that Tuesday morning. I put on a University of North Carolina Ronald Curry football jersey and some khaki pants and hit the door. My first stop was the voting booth. There was a primary election that day and I needed to vote.
Voting out of the way, I waited for a friend to pick me up. I had volunteered on a political campaign during the summer and now my friend and I were going to work at a polling site. I got picked around 7:30 a.m. and we were on our way under a clear Brooklyn sky.
We were hungry though. So we pulled into a Burger King parking lot around 8:30 and ate some breakfast while listening to Star & Bucwild on the radio. A plane hit the World Trade Center.
Ok. That was weird. A joke we hoped. Star used to say crazy stuff all the time so it had to be a bad joke. A small plane was my hope if a plane did strike a tower. People were likely dead and it had to be chaotic but nothing too major.
A second plane hit the World Trade Center. Ok. This ain’t no joke. Still with no real knowledge we continued with our morning until we got a call from the candidate to come to his apartment.
Drinking a warm Mike’s Hard Lemonade at like 11 am, I finally saw what had to be terrorism. The planes, the towers, the collapse, the smoke. My knees buckled. I nearly fainted. This could not be real. This absolutely could not be real.
I’m 19 years old. Yes, I still had memories of the first World Trade Center attack some eight years earlier but this was unreal. I could not believe this was happening. The silence in the room confirmed that I was not alone.
You would have heard a pin drop in that apartment. Except there were jets in the sky. Fighter jets I thought. Maybe not but two things I observed in that moment were the sounds in the sky and the smoke creeping eastward.
The smoke would eventually cover the City in darkness. My family was safe. I knew my sister was at school, and my Mom was at work. I did not know where my Dad was but I knew he was not in Manhattan. Hours later we were all safe at home. It was in that moment I believed no one I knew had died.
I learned about a week later how wrong I was. I lost a friend. I lost a very good friend. I lost Tommy. One of our professors told me and then she arranged for me to meet his mother. It was hard to stand there and have her say to me that I was the only friend her son spoke about. That hurt. It hurt a lot.
Fifteen years later I have not forgotten. Fifteen years later I can still retrace every step that day. Every moment. Every second. Never forget.
9-11-01 is a part of this nation. Its something we cannot wash over. Its a memory, a day, that will live forever.
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