The Day It All Started

An article by posted on September 8, 2011

I remember September 11, 2001 very clearly. I was working at Yale in my 7th floor office overlooking the New Haven Green – a beautiful place in our city. I had just begun to get ready for my work day 8AM – 4:30PM. I kept a small radio on my window sill and it was tuned in to WCBS radio 880.

I had just begun sorting things out when I heard the weather reporter talk from the CBS helicopter saying that he was getting strange messages and thought he would take the ‘copter down to the World Trade Center area. That was the last transmission I heard from him until much later in the day.

Because no TVs were allowed in our area, we really didn’t know much about what had happened, or in fact was going to happen. Later in the morning – after both Trade Center Buildings had fallen, someone produced an old TV, but it was late for that now. In fact right before lunchtime Yale President Richard C. Levin sent out a message that anyone who wanted to, could go home. I chose to leave.

On the way I stopped to see my sons who worked at their father’s business in Hamden. However when I arrived only one son – Michael was there – Frank was in Chicago on business, but later that day he rented a truck and came back home.

I finally arrived home in Cheshire at about 2PM – where the day was as bright and sunny and warm as a September day should be. Except this one should not have been. Our town looked much the same as it had when I left that morning except for just one thing – all flags in our town were already at half mast.

That brought the tears. Even now, ten years later, it makes me cry. All those who died were just doing their jobs, but it didn’t work out that way. In the past 10 years, I’ve never once forgotten the children whose parents never came home from work, or the emergency workers who toiled for months.

Actually it was Bobby Valentine’s idea to put his men to a task that was much needed. Since travel was limited on the Island, he rounded up some of his players and they came to work for him there at Shea. Suppliers and other tradesmen would come to the Stadium and leave their cartons and packages there and there were always some Mets there to sort things out.

Also I will never forget that WFAN Radio went 24 hours a day with a connection to the site – you’d wake up in the night and hear some child asking about his parents or some parents asking about their grown child. Everyone who could, simply went home, but there were blockades on bridges and tunnels etc. and I have a friend who simply could not deal with sitting around the apartment and went out and played golf for hours at a time, just to occupy his mind and his body.

I also remember that Bernie Williams – who was always a bit shy – went to firehouses and hugged the firemen. Yes, he did and it was a very welcome gesture. Many firemen were lost, and were sorely missed every day.

I’m not particularly a Guiliani fan, but I do commend him for going to every funeral he possibly could – and there were so many.

There’s just one other thing – the New York Times filled a section of their paper every day with an obituary of every single person who had died or been lost. It took a long time to complete the project, but it was well worth it. I read every single one of them every day until the end and I will never forget them. Oh yes, they found a picture of each lost soul and put that next to the text, just to make sure you would remember.

Believe me, you will.

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