Larry Osterman's WebLog

Confessions of an Old Fogey
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I thought I could avoid writing this today but...

I thought I could avoid writing this today but...

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For 9/11, Joel's gone dark.  It won't be there after 9/11, but today, his blog has been replaced with a Vietnam Veterans Memorial style listing of all of the 9/11 victims (edit: Updated to permalink of memorial page).

It's been 3 years, and my images of that day are still raw.  I woke up at 6:30 to the person on the radio (Alice Porter, at KLSY) telling us that a plane had just hit the first tower.  Valorie and I ran downstairs and watched in horror just as the second plane hit.

We then stared, watching the screen as one tower, then the next crumbled into the ground.

I went to work that day, but couldn't function.  Eventually an email was sent out suggesting that people might consider going home to be with their families, I took that opportunity.

I find it difficult to even think about that time, the horror of what I saw on TV still gets to me.  I listen to the 9/11 memorial stories on the radio and have to pull over to the side of the road.

9/11 is also my mothers birthday.  Shortly afterwards, my sister commented to her that my mom now has the suckiest birthday of anyone.  And she was right.  We talked just this morning and it's hard not to revisit that day.  She lives on the Upper West Side, and all but one of the firefighters in her neighborhood firestation didn't come back that day - that's all the firefighters on all three shifts

A co-worker of mine was in NYC on 9/11, and sent the following dispatches back.  I still have them in my inbox (I've stripped the names from the posts):

-----Original Message-----
From: <CoWorker2>
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2001 10:31 AM
Subject: FW: Another morning in Manhattan

I am sitting on a park bench in central park. Will go back to red cross this afternoon to try to give up my blood. Seems like water is in shorter supply though. I am hoping since I can’t leave Manhattan that I can volunteer at a shelter tonight.  

-----Original Message-----
From: <CoWorker2>
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2001 6:53 AM
Subject: FW: Another morning in Manhattan

This morning Manhattan is quiet. Not much traffic and not the usual din of a NYC day. Maybe it is too early for folks. Still a lot of sirens though, and the occasional military aircraft. Many businesses (including Starbucks are still closed). All of the tunnels to and from Manhattan remain closed. I can’t figure that out. Why would they not let us out? For <CoWorker1> and me though, there would be no where to go anyway since the airports are closed. I have this theory that the government thinks there may have been terrorist observers that they might still be able to identify. <CoWorker1> and I are toying with the idea of buying fresh clothes. I put a set into the hotel’s laundry system and they didn’t com back. The Red Cross has asked for socks and sweatshirts for volunteers working around the clock. <CoWorker1> and I have decided to find out where we can donate blood today. There are no news papers today in Manhattan. I may end up swimming across the Hudson for a paper and Starbucks coffee. A friend of ours from OpenCola offered to put us up at his Manhattan apartment, but the hotel will let us stay another night. I am guessing they don’t have anyone new to replace us with anyway. I heard on the news that the American Express Building is open on one side (from damage) and is being used as a morgue. On Monday, I was standing in front of it impressed by its size and the fact they are one of Microsoft’s .NET Early Adopters. The hotel phones are out so we can only use cell phones. I can’t explain that one. The hotel still has only a single door open too, and are checking for room keys. <CoWorker1's> wife's birthday was last night. My wife says we will celebrate on Saturday when we are all back in Seattle.

-----Original Message-----
From: <CoWorker2>
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 9:21 AM
Subject: Manhattan frenzy

I think all access to and from Manhattan is blocked. North-South roads are completely gridlocked as the folks in the South are trying to get North. East-west roads are blocked by the police and other city officials, I suspect to give emergency vehicles a path South. Waves of sirens of every sort and horns – yes, an order of magnitude more than is normal for this very loud city. All businesses were shut down so the walks were filled with folks – many crying; others attempting cell phone calls. Each pay phone has lines of folks over a block long.

I lost <CoWorker1> because I was impatient and bolted to Starbucks before he showed up at our meeting place. With no phones, I am not sure how we will link up today.

With all the phones out, I am leaning against the glass pane of a closed Starbucks to access my email.

Our hotel on Central Park closed all but a side door. They are asking for identification to get in. I think this is overkill but it has advantages as many folks that I am guessing don’t live in Manhattan have no where to go.

-----Original Message-----
From: <CoWorker2>
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 7:50 AM
Subject: Manhattan is a mess - <CoWorker1> and <CoWorker2> are safe in Central Park

<CoWorker1> and I are stranded in Manhattan. Thought I would include a map to show you how close to all this we are. We were at NASDAQ on Wall Street 4 blocks away yesterday with <Sam> and <Joe>, and were 40 blocks away at the time of this tragedy meeting with HorizonLive. <Sam> and <Joe> flew to Chicago last night.

We are safely removed to our hotel at Central Park, but it seems few here are unaffected. Many have friends and family among the 50k folks that work in those buildings. There is hardly a dry eye in this hotel and I imagine in Manhattan and maybe even most of the world.

Phone circuits are busy so little chance for phone calls. <CoWorker1> and I were fortunate enough to contact our families shortly after the first attack.

I expect <CoWorker1> and I will be here for awhile.

 

I can still clearly remember being at a Wellington Elementary school PTSA fundraiser when the first planes started to fly - I remember looking up from the playground and seeing the silver arrow flying across the sky and thinking that finally the world was starting to return to normal. 

Edit: Removed a couple of names accidentally left in the text.

 

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