9-11-01 to 5-01-11 ...

Author:Read, Brendan B.

I still have not yet found the words to adequately describe my reaction when the news came late Sunday night, 05-01-11, that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces.


For my wife and I and my sister-in-law were amongst the many New Yorkers and Washingtonians ... and commuters and travelers and workers and visitors who were going about our business ... when all hell literally broke loose on a bright and sunny morning, 9-11-01.

My wife and I were commuting from our then-home on Staten Island to midtown Manhattan, riding on the M6 bus from the Staten Island Ferry terminal when the driver stared through his rear view mirror and screamed, "The World Trade is on fire!" We ran to the left side of the bus, craned our eyes upward and saw the smoke billow from the north tower. I got out near my office in the Flatiron District, staring down Sixth Avenue at the towers with the hordes of others, listening to a radio in a white van, trying to figure out what was going on ... and then watched the second plane crash into the south tower. In the meantime my sister-in-law heard a loud bang as her subway train passed beneath the site.

With strong memories of evacuations and "security alerts" while living in the U.K. during terror campaigns and having interviewed experts in the wake of the first World Trade Center bombing, I called my wife and sister-in-law and said we're getting out. Our offices were located near the Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden and nobody knew then how many planes were still in the air. And shortly afterward our companies gave us the evacuation order.

I left carrying my laptop and my now useless cell phone - much of the wireless along with the landline communications collapsed with the towers - on the long walk to the Hudson River to catch the ferries to New Jersey. On the way my sister-in-law suffered a heart attack. The line waiting to board made way for her and she was rushed on the other side with my wife to a nearby hospital; there was a long line of ambulances waiting for the survivors. I made my way to a friend's home where I logged in and made - and answered - "Are You OK?" e-mails.

What I do have is a heartfelt thanks to the brave men and women both uniformed and civilian who responded to save...

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