As stated in my blog entitled '9/11 Ten Years Later' I said I would post my cathartic letter...here it is in its entirety - you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll rejoice in life!:
Recently, a friend asked how I was doing in light of the events of 9/11.
Here is what I told her:
I am working for as a Quality Assurance Engineering Consultant for Siemens Transportation
System. We are designing and installing a Fiber Optic Telecommunications Network for New York City Transit (The Subway). I was scheduled to fly to
office!". Well, I went anyway.
I arrived on Thursday, Aug 16 at about noon with my boss, Raja, a Lebanese native who is a
naturalized citizen of the
On Friday we set out for the
After our 'float' in this ancient, body of water with an excessively high level of potassium salts, we began our trek back to Tel Aviv and our hotel.
I was navigating and had an incredible urge to see
the Western (Wailing) Wall within an hour of the beginning of the Sabbath. It was quite a sight, watching hundreds of Chassidic Jews marching to the wall to welcome the Sabbath...a weekly, holy event. I, too, partook in saying my prayers at the Wall. Raja observed with detached curiosity but found himself looking on in awe.
That night when we returned to the hotel, I spoke with Sharon, my wife. I told her of the
trip to the
them to worry.
Of course, this did not deter us from traveling throughout the country. We visited many
places over the next 5 days including Caesarea,
When I returned home I told Sharon, mom and others of my travels. They were angry but
loved the gifts I brought back from
Do you remember what I said earlier about where I feel safer in
The reason for that statement is I worked, at that time, in a building complex that had been bombed by terrorists about 8 years ago (I did not work there at the time) and statistically, there was less of a chance of being hurt in
The above information was intended as a preface to my experiences of September 11, 2001.
I arrived at work that morning at 7:55 for a training session at 8:30 am.
I had a several emails to send including the announcement for my annual ski trip. At 8:30 I headed to the conference room...a room on the 30th floor of 2 WTC (Tower 2) that looks out over the
numerous to list in my cubicle.
Well, we began a trek down 30 stories. It was a very orderly descent.
Many things happened over the next 15 minutes. One person on the stair was able to get a cell phone line out. We learned that a plane hit Tower 1.
We assumed it was a commuter plane that got off course or something. I commented to my
associate that all those fire drills during our school years paid off. We stopped a couple of times to assist an older woman who was becoming breathless. This was the most orderly descent in the face of a potential disaster I could imagine. Nevertheless, we reached the second floor, which on the north side exits to street level but on the south side is still one floor above the street. We exited to the south side of the tower and looked upon a war zone. There were papers flying everywhere, all kinds of 'trash' in the streets, cars burning and the sky was as dark as during a thunderstorm. What was missing was people and moving vehicles.
It looked as if downtown
Out of curiosity I walked, with a colleague, to the north side of the building (inside, of course) to see what was going on. As I approached the windows overlooking the center court fountain of the World Trade Center I looked up into a Towering Inferno (just like in the movie) only to watch a body falling from somewhere above. The body (I think it was a man) landed on the other side
of the tent peak over the stage which abutted 1 WTC. At that point I turned to my associate, Hans, standing next to me and told him it was time to "get the hell out of here" so we went to re-join our teammates. We rushed back to the south end of the lobby only to find our team moving around to the south side in the opposite direction from which we were coming. We continued around to where we had just been to begin our descent to the first floor by escalator.
I began walking down the escalator, it was not moving, with Hans and 2 security people behind me...we were the last ones on the second floor as far as I can recall.
About two thirds of the way down the building shook and there was the sound of an explosion, then smoke started to pour out the elevators...I later learned this was at 9:03 am. The second airplane had just struck Tower 2.
I began to 'loudly' urge the people in front of me to move forward and away from the glass. We had to go through the revolving doors into 'The Mall' area. I continued to encourage people to move away from the glass.
As I were walking through the mall, I noticed one of my work associates wandering aimlessly. I approached and said to him, "Brad, lets get out of here!" I noticed many firefighters, police officers and rescue workers (
Our project team's primary office is at 195 Broadway, back to back with the Millenium Hilton Hotel which faces the
I headed north, up Broadway continuously trying to reach my wife on my cell phone. I could not get a line out so I decided to head over to my prior place of employment. Argo International Corporation is located at
I stormed into Argo at about 9:30 am. I was not in a regular state of mind (I believe I was in shock) and basically pushed everyone out of my way. I recall being rude to friends but they seemed to understand. I attempted several times to get a phone line out. Finally, I connected with my wife's office. Getting her voicemail I left a message, in an incredibly shaky voice telling her, "I am alive, I am alright, I am at Argo and coming up to her." I must have repeated this over and over for 2 minutes. About 5 minutes later I called again and connected with her. I told her to stay put, I'm coming to her! I turned around a walked out heading north again.
When I reached
and she had been trying to reach him for almost an hour but couldn't. When the train stopped at Grand Central Station I walked her off the train. She was much more composed and assured me she would be alright to get to her office. I walked the opposite way to exit onto
Shortly after we walked into Grand Central there was an announcement to evacuate the station.
So we turned and walked out heading north again. It was now 10 am.
I noticed that my cell phone battery was nearly drained. I called my mom as we walked, to
let her know I was alive. Then my phone battery ran out of juice. We walked to my cousin Grant's apartment to find he wasn't there, so we continued to walk north. I had enough composure to realize that I needed a new phone charger...mine was in my office and I had no idea when I would get back to the office again (we had no idea that the building was no longer standing)...so we stopped and bought a new one. That was when I realized that I didn't have my
wallet...it was in my briefcase, in my office, on the 30th floor of Tower 2.
As we walked we stopped and talked to a multitude of people about what was happening here in
We did have one negative incident with a pompous, arrogant, jerk that will not be embellished here. Otherwise all the people we encountered throughout the day were great. In a word, they were all New Yorkers!!!
At noon we arrived at my Aunt Jo Anne and Uncle Martin's apartment on
I was finally feeling hungry, so we stopped for a slice of pizza around 4 pm...this was the first thing I had eaten all day (I'd skipped breakfast that morning). The we began to walk north again. I live in
When we got home 15 minutes later, we hugged and kissed the kids like there would be no
Next day we took the kids to school. My son, 5 years old, and a kindergartener, in his second week of school looked at the mural in the cafeteria asking me if the plane in the mural was going to crash into the school in the mural. I thought I'd lost my mind, but I had to assure him he was safe. Then I went to the school nurse and principal to verify that they were going to 'take care' of the kids and counsel them if they needed to talk or showed signs of distress.
Over the next few days, I went through all the stages of grief regularly discussed by Psychologists. I knew what was happening to me but could not control myself. When I finally broke down and cried over the weekend, I started to climb out of my grief. I'm much better now, but periodically, I have a bad day, like last Friday when I realized that had I stood at the northern window of the south tower for 2 more minutes, I would have seen the second airplane as it crashed into our building.
I learned on Sep 12, 2001 that one of our teammates, Randy Drake, was on the street in front
of 195 Broadway when the second airplane struck. He turned to run and was struck in the back of the head with what was believed to be an aircraft part. It crushed his skull. After two surgeries and 2 weeks, he was airlifted home to
5000 people were lost in this attack, Randy is the only person I knew who was physically injured and eventually perished from the attack.
One thing I've become proficient at in the past month is being evacuated.
I've already discussed the evacuations from 2WTC and Grand Central Station.
On Thursday, Sep 13, 2001 I traveled back to
On the same day the FBI was all over Jersey City searching the residences of people
believed to be responsible for the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC (this was not an evacuation but I was starting believe someone was after me). The following Monday, Sep 17, 2001 we returned to work, primarily to continue the counseling sessions. We were given office space at a Siemens facility in
After all that I've been through I must state that I am very lucky.
Friends, family, colleagues and especially my wife and kids have given me the strength and fortitude to go on. I am now back at work in midtown Manhattan, trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild what was lost and move our project forward. Thank goodness for my family and my work. Each give me something to look forward to and a reason to wake up each morning.
David B. Levy