Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11/01, In Memoriam

The following were my posts from a year ago. As I did on the sixth anniversary of 9/11, in 2007, I will only post once today, out of tribute to those who were so horrifically murdered seven years ago today. Please give them a thought today.

This will be my only post today. Remember the victims, and never forget how you felt on September 11, 2001: http://www.september11victims.com/september11victims/victims_list.htm.

My personal memory of 9/11: Sorry that it's so long-winded, but here it goes: I was in court in Burlington County, NJ, and when I walked into the courtroom, it was a mob scene. Strangely, though, no one was talking. It was about five minutes to nine. I saw an attorney I knew and asked him why it was so quiet, and he said that he had no idea. Just as he finished talking, the Judge came out onto the bench and asked if there were any attorneys who were either from New York City or who had family living or working there. A small group of people responded affirmatively, and he asked them to come back to his chambers immediately. They went back, and I never saw them again.

By this point, there was a buzz in the courtroom--everyone was wondering why the Judge had called back the New York City attorneys. My case was the next one called back, and when I walked into the Judge's chambers, I saw immediately that the TV was on, something I had never seen before in this or any other judge's chambers. I could see clearly that one of the Twin Towers was on fire, and as I watched, the second plane hit. This Judge, who was and is one of the classiest men I have ever encountered on the bench, just looked at my opposing counsel and I and said "Holy S--t".

My first thought was "Jets just don't hit buildings." I knew then that we were under attack. I had no idea at the time that a friend of mine from 15 years earlier was going to die when the South Tower came down.

At that point, the Judge told my opposing counsel and I that he was going to dismiss Court for the day. He told us that he would call our case in again in a few weeks, and then went back out to the courtroom and told everyone that the Twin Towers in New York had been hit by airplanes and were on fire. He added that he was dismissing Court for the day, and then added "Counsellors, the world has changed today. Don't go back to your offices. Go to wherever your family is, and be with them." He then walked slowly back into his chambers.

I called my wife as I left the courthouse to tell her what was going on. She already knew, of course, but her employer (who was located in central New Jersey, about an hour from New York City), had banned employees from watching the television, telling her and everyone else "That's New York, not here. Get back to work". I told her that I was going to go back to work and drop my file off and from there I was going home to watch the news out of New York.

On the drive back, word came out of D.C. that the Pentagon had been hit as well, and as I walked back into my office, the fourth plane went down in Shanksville, PA. You have to understand something about my firm--it is run by and filled with workaholics. Yet, when I stepped off the stairs, I looked down the hallway at our main conference room and EVERYONE was in there, staring at the tv, including the main equity partners who you normally could not get out of their offices unless they were being threatened with death (and even then, I would say that it was only 50/50 that they would leave).

We all just sat or stood in the conference room, watching what was happening in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville. Occasionally, someone would cry. No one talked. Then, one Tower came down, followed by the other, each followed by gasps of horror. We SAW the people jumping out of the Towers. Imagine that, having to make a choice of dying in a fire or throwing yourself to your death from 100 stories up.

Around 11 a.m., the managing partners of our office walked up to the tv and turned it off. They announced that the firm was closing for the day, the only time we have ever done that except for a weather emergency. True to form, my wife's employer stayed open until 5 p.m., just like any other day.

I got home around 11:30 a.m. I spent the rest of the day watching tv, getting angrier, and making a promise that I would never forget how I felt that day, nor would I forget who had committed the terrorist atrocities. I still haven't...........

1 comment:

serket said...

Thanks for sharing your experience and that is sad that you lost a former friend.