Twenty years ago, on September 11, 2001, only a few minutes after arriving in the firehouse on E 29th St., I responded to the WTC with my unit, Engine Co 16 just after the first plane went into the North Tower. We responded going south on the FDR and we could see smoke billowing from the upper floors of the north tower. As we arrived at the foot of the towers, I looked up and we witnessed the second plane crashing into the South Tower. The explosion, orange fireball and then the falling debris was surreal. We jumped back into the rig for cover and went around to the north tower, and after receiving our orders in the lobby, we headed into a stairwell and made our way up to the 22nd floor. While we up there, the South Tower collapsed. The lights went out and the entire building swayed back and forth. After what felt like an eternity, we got the order to evacuate. My unit and I made our way back down, helping civilians along the way to the lobby and only a couple of minutes after reaching the ground floor, the North Tower started to collapse. I dropped my SCBA and started running as the tower collapsed behind us. There was nothing but dust in the air. All I heard was screaming and sirens.
In the weeks and months that followed, public support for our country, city, and department was overwhelming. For this 20th anniversary, I opened up my WTC chest and took pictures of some of the magazines and newspapers from the days and weeks following the collapse. I am also posting some of the many letters that were written to me by elementary school kids showing their support.
20 years is a long time, but some wounds do not really fully heal. And with everything going on in this country and world today, we must NEVER FORGET what happened that day!
For the 343 brave men that made the supreme sacrifice that day, the city and country will always be in your debt. May your souls rest in eternal peace.
9-11-01 NEVER FORGET 9-11-21
Letters that school kids sent in the weeks that followed