The Day The Towers Fell…

In history, there are a few moments where it seems people always seem to remember where they were and what they were doing as it occurred or when they heard the news.

twin-towers-new-yorkPearl Harbor, the assassination president of John F. Kennedy and Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon.

While not being old enough to remember the events and tragedies mentioned above, like all other generations my own had its share of days that would indeed live on in infamy.

I barely recall John Lennon being shot and killed by a crazed fan named David Chapman and recall with horror watching the NASA space shuttle Challenger exploding shortly after launch due to an O-ring failure.

Nothing would compare though with the tragic events of September, 11th, 2001 however when I along with the rest of the world watched thousands of people die in a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center’s twin towers.

This article will not focus on the history or the cause of the tragedy, but rather on my personal recollections of the event.

Additionally, there will not be any of the conspiracy theories that have sprung up around that event after the fact. Despite always keeping an open mind (Just see my other website for proof of that) and having some very non-conformist political beliefs, on this day it is better to focus on what we know happened that day, which was massive loss of life and the shattering of the safety net we as Americans had been living under for over half a century.

On that fateful morning, I had gone to work at about eight A.M. to open a local ‘dollar shop’ chain as the store’s assistant manager. It was a job I really disliked as my functions were resetting merchandise off of random pallets and placing them on the sales floor and then doing the tedious bookwork.

However, at the time and in that economy I made pretty good money so I just soldiered through it, especially as a month prior I had lost pretty much everything I had gained over the last five years or so.

Shortly after the store opened at nine A.M., a customer had said a plane had flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York just slightly before nine.

Now at this point I should note that this was before smart phones, before everybody had instant access to news and information at their fingertips and the store itself pumped in their own radio station with uninterrupted music, which was another sore point of that job because they played little I liked besides playing David Bowie’s Golden Years Twice a day.

I recall talking to the cashier working that day and remarking that it was a terrible accident but hopefully they contained the fire. I actually recall remarking that a B-52 had flown into the Empire State Building in the 1940s so if they could get the fires out the loss of life should hopefully have been minimal and that the people on the plane were most likely vaporized.

Some time later another person came in and had told us another plane had hit the South tower and of course I knew then as many did, that regardless of cause, this was no accident.

By the time someone had said another plane had hit the Pentagon I was actually scared and unnerved. Images of the eighties film Red Dawn started to pop into my mind and I really wondered was this it, was there going to be war and were we going to be attacked again or possibly even an invasion?

Now it seems rather silly to have such thoughts but again, this was before smart phones and no one had a radio in the store. I finished my shift with thoughts that despite the recent personal issues I had faced in losing a three-year long relationship and being evicted from my former apartment a month earlier that the world had shifted, the world had certainly changed.

This was the United States and we never had the battles on our soil.

Withing two hours the veil of being untouchable had faded like a ghost.

Having to work till two P.M. or so that day meant I saw none of the live coverage and was still working when both towers fell. I recall going across the street from the strip mall where the dollar shop was and going into a video game store on my break.

The guy in there did have a portable radio and he relayed the information to me as we discussed the heavy thoughts of tragedy and war.

On the way back home I passed the local Hilton Hotel and was shocked that the American flag being flown was still at the top of the flagpole rather than half mast.

For reasons to this day I don’t recall giving much thought before I acted, I walked into the main lobby and essentially cursed the front desk clerk out, saying they had no damn respect and people had died.

Today, I realise that at the time, which as I said was recently filled with personal issues, I had a tendency to deal with everything with anger and I was just coming to grips with the idea that a great many people had needlessly died that day.

Returning home, the television  was on and the endless replays on the towers falling were on full display. This combined with all the conflicting news reports made for some harrowing viewing as the nation tried to come to terms with the attacks.

Special editions of the local papers were printed and rush de;livered at about five P.M. and being a person who usually likes to read his news rather than view it I recall buying each of the three available, sitting just outside the store on some milk crates and digesting the words and images that would become infamous from that day forward.

Where were you on that fateful morning when the world changed forever?

Thomas Spychalski

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