I just wanted to offer my condolences to those who lost loved ones and/or were injured themselves in NYC or at The Pentagon on the morning of 9/11/01. It was an awful, tragic day that no one will ever forget.
My mother (who retired 2 years ago) at the time worked in lower Manhattan for the City of New York as a clerical aide for the NYPD & actually saw from her desk window the first plane hit Building 1 of the WTC but thought it was an accident--at first. Then, when the 2nd plane hit, the impact shook her whole building (which was probably 10-15 blocks away). She said everyone (well, everyone on her floor anyway) grabbed their purses/bags and ran down the stairs to the street level. But once they got outside, it was, of course, utter chaos. She said everyone on the sidewalk was running for buses, trains, whatever to get away from the debris falling from the sky. She said she didn't dare look up to see exactly WHAT was falling/flying through the air, and also the STENCH was so horrible you had to cover your nose & mouth as you ran. But run she did and made the last train uptown to the George Washington Bridge Bus Station to catch a bus back home to Jersey. During this time I had also left work (in the Bronx) & was on my to the GWB as well. But, as we soon found out (I somehow met up with her at the GWB), the GWB was CLOSED until it was deemed safe for buses to cross.
While we waited, we struck up a conversation I will never forget with a woman who escaped from no. 1 WTC after the first plane hit. She was on a lower floor and decided to leave right then & there. At that time, no one knew exactly what was happening, she said. And no one else wanted to leave but her. When she got down to the ground floor (elevators were still working at that time), it was a madhouse outside, debris from the plane, bodies, etc. everywhere. She said after she ran a block & looked back, her building was coming down. She didn't think anyone else in her company made it out alive. And this woman was amazingly calm (or maybe in shock?). My mother & I just listened in awe as she told this story.
The GWB finally reopened around 6 or 7 p. m. We got home around 8 p.m., but some people we later learned didn't make it home till around 11 p.m. or so. It was just an awful, awful, awful, day we will never forget.
Thanks for listening. I hope I didn't depress anyone; just wanted to share my experience.