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Where was I on 9/11?
The World Trade Center from the Brooklyn Bridge
September 1, 2001
I was waiting at Los Angeles International (LAX) with my wife for my plane to board on a flight to JFK in New York. I was working for Toshiba Telecommunications Division and was on a two week assignment to teach classes on how to program and install Toshiba's business telephone systems. I was to spend the first week in Brooklyn New York and the second week in Dallas Texas.
While we were waiting for the flight to board, we noticed a disheveled man sitting on the floor with his luggage open. He had clothes scattered about and appeared to be looking for something. My wife remarked kiddingly: " I bet he sits next to you on the plane."
I boarded the plane and the seat next to me was empty. Just as we were about to be pushed back, the disheveled man came running down the aisle and took the seat next to me.As soon as we were airborne, I noticed he bent down and crossed his arms and immediately fell into a deep sleep. Once we were up to cruising altitude, he woke up.
We struck up a conversation and I learned he was a professor at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and that he was on a trip to Afghanistan to see his parents whom he had not seen in twenty years. He said the reason he was dressed this way is because the Taliban would not allow him into the country if he were clean shaven and with a trim haircut.
At that time I knew nothing about Afghanistan or the Taliban. He was very concerned that he would not be able to get a connecting flight from JFK to Afghanistan because of the turmoil that was occurring in Afghanistan. He seemed to be preoccupied about airplanes and God and that airplanes would be the salvation to the world problems. We talked about the Israeli/Arab conflict and he was pleased that I was interested in the issues of the region. When the plane landed, we shook hands and I wished him well with his quest to see his parents. I noticed his hands were wringing wet. I told him not to worry and everything will be O.K.
The Towers at Night
During that week, I stayed at the Marriott Financial hotel which was directly across the street from the World Trade Center. I marveled at the towers. At night the lights from the various offices would glow and gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. The fire department was directly across the street from the towers and in the mornings, I would watch the firemen go through their drills, which gave me a very secure feeling.
I taught my class in Brooklyn. The class went very well and I had some spare time on September 8. So I decided to visit the towers. These pictures were from the surrounding area and the observation deck on the 111th floor. I don't remember which tower had the observation deck. But I do remember I could walk right up to the huge plate glass windows on the deck to take the pictures.
View from my window looking towards Battery Park
View from the mezzanine level of the tower
My hotel from the observation deck
From the Observation Deck
Empire State Building
The East River
I was waiting to board my flight at JFK to go to Dallas and decided to go to the TGI Fridays restaurant for a beer. I sat across from a group of what appeared to be Arab men. They seemed to be very angry about missing a flight to San Francisco. Now that I look back on it, they looked very much like the men that attacked the towers.
I arrived in Dallas and was team teaching a class with another instructor, when someone came in and said a light plane had just hit the world trade center. We stopped the class and brought in a T.V. I could not believe my eyes. I told everybody that I was just there three days ago on the 111th floor. We all watched with horror as the towers came down. Several students had relatives that worked in the trade center, so we stopped the class and allowed everybody to contact their friends and relatives.
I was at Dallas/Fort Worth. The airport was filled with armed military personnel. Because all flights were grounded the day before. The scheduling was a mess and all flights were delayed. I called my wife and my brother and told them I don't care if I had to ride a horse, I'm coming home.
After much juggling of flights, I arrived at LAX and needless to say, the airport was also a mess. I called my daughter who lives very close to the airport and by the grace of God, I was able to spot her car in the mess of traffic in the airport. The rest is history that we all know about. Thanks for letting me share this experience with you.