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What I Remember From 9/11

Two Planes Crash into World Trade Center
Fabina Sbina/ Hugh Zareasky, Getty Images

For me, 9/11 was partly about guilt.

I was born and raised in Union County, New Jersey. Moved away and back several times in my broadcasting career. On September 11th, I was living and working near Detroit, Michigan. Living alone in a townhouse, the morning started as usual. I had gone out the night before and slept in a bit. I worked afternoon drive there, too, so I had that luxury. I hadn’t turned anything on yet that morning, no radio or TV, which was unusual for me. I started working from home on a project for work when I had a question for my program director at the station. When I called him, he answered but sounded unusually distracted. I started asking him about an upcoming station event when he cut me off, also unusual, saying only, “Jeff I can’t, I can’t talk right now I’m paying attention to what’s happening in New York!” With that he hung up. Of course this made me immediately turn on the TV and saw the image of smoke rising from the first tower.

It was 8:54 am and the tower had been struck fewer than ten minutes earlier. Minutes later, I watched in horror as the second tower was struck. Almost immediately, any lingering thought that it had been a small aircraft hitting the first tower vanished and the world knew what was happening.

Later, on live television, I watched as the towers fell. I cried in disbelief. I hoped I was having a lucid nightmare and would wake in a moment. I had been to those towers so many times. I would later find out that my brother had just stood on the observation deck overlooking the city 46 hours before the attack. So strange. Where my father used to live in a high rise building in Rahway, we would sit on his balcony and look at those towers. When I flew back to New Jersey two weeks after the attack, to see them missing from the air sent ice water through my veins and made me sick to my stomach.

The day of the attack was spent rushing to the radio station, gathering information, and spending that and the next near two weeks talking about nothing but. I helped organize a patriotic effort acquiring and handing out American flags from morning until night at a major intersection’s parking lot in town to listeners and anyone who wanted to show their resolve. The station, as did many, did a lot of charitable work. But back to the guilt.

I felt guilt for having not been closer to my home during such a tragedy. I felt guilty for having accepted a different job two years earlier and for having left the afternoon show on New Jersey 101.5 Bill and I did for five and a half years in the 90s. Felt guilty for having not been here. I felt it’s where I should have been. I know I couldn’t have changed anything. It’s just that this is my home, and my home lost over 700 people that day and my home was hurting.

May we never forget.

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