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Where was I on 9/11?

Updated on August 15, 2013

The World Trade Center from the Brooklyn Bridge

The towers as viewed from the Brooklyn Bridge.
The towers as viewed from the Brooklyn Bridge. | Source

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

I was on my back on a bike path across from my hotel when I took this picture.
I was on my back on a bike path across from my hotel when I took this picture. | Source

The Towers

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

The view form my window on the 22nd floor of the Marriot Financial
The view form my window on the 22nd floor of the Marriot Financial | Source

View from the mezzanine level of the tower

My hotel is behind the first building on the right.  Wall Street is the next street to the left.
My hotel is behind the first building on the right. Wall Street is the next street to the left. | Source

My hotel from the observation deck

My hotel from the 111th floor of the observation deck.. it's the L shaped building next to the freeway.
My hotel from the 111th floor of the observation deck.. it's the L shaped building next to the freeway. | Source

From the Observation Deck

looking towards the Hudson River
looking towards the Hudson River | Source

Empire State Building

Looking towards the Empire State Building
Looking towards the Empire State Building | Source

The East River

Looking towards the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and the Willamsbug Bridge
Looking towards the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and the Willamsbug Bridge | Source

September 9th

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.

September 11th

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.

September 12th

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.


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    • peoplepower73 profile image
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      Mike Russo 4 years ago from Placentia California

      I complied with the following Style Tip from Hub Pages:

      "Uh-oh! It looks like you have a large number of Amazon or eBay products grouped together. We recommend placing one relevant product next to the text where the product is mentioned."

    • peoplepower73 profile image
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      Mike Russo 4 years ago from Placentia California

      strong woman 71: It truly was a sad day in history. I think we all lost some freedom after that. Thanks for the comments and thank for dropping by.

    • strong woman 71 profile image

      Kelly Jakob 4 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you for sharing. I remember like it was yesterday. I was at work in a bank as a teller. We were just going along like any other day when one of the loan officers came through the lobby saying that a plane had just hit one of the world trade center buildings. One of the girls that I worked with was actually in New York staying near the trade centers. At first we thought it was an accident but once the second plane hit we knew this was no accident. I remember standing watching the towers start to fall and the sick feeling I had. For a group of people to massacre so many people just seemed unreal. It was truly a sad day in history.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 4 years ago from Placentia California

      An AYM: I really can't answer that, because I can't speak for everybody. But I do know this one person dies in a war, it's a national tragedy. Thousands die and it's statistics. Thanks for dropping by.

    • profile image

      An AYM 4 years ago

      We are safe though. I'd imagine 70 years between historically relevant terrorist acts isn't too bad comparatively with the rest of the world.

      It's like everyone's at a wake for a distant relative. We know that it's sad they died, but we enjoy having an excuse to visit with everyone and eat some tiny sandwiches. I think we have an odd obsession with death.

      I bet they don't mourn American deaths, but that doesn't change anything. It isn't any more right for them than it would be for us. It still bothers me because it's true, we feel that Americans are worth more points and therefore are more sad a loss. Not that we're going to mourn every individual death on the planet like it was a family member; American or non-American death it's just another person that dies and the world goes on the exact same way the next day. So why do we feel it's unacceptable to stop the fanfare and trumpets for ever a moment?

    • peoplepower73 profile image
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      Mike Russo 4 years ago from Placentia California

      An AYM: I think it's more than that. It's about the attack on this country while we thought we were safe. It's the same as Pearl Harbor. We still mourn those who were killed at Pearl Harbor. even those it's been over 70 years ago. Do non-American Strangers mourn American deaths? Thanks for dropping by.

    • profile image

      An AYM 4 years ago

      I don't understand why we treat this as such a gaping wound. It makes more sense to me for those who lost people whom they actually knew, but for most people it's a few thousand strangers that died over a decade ago.

      I understand that loss is hard. I don't understand how we're all so openly gushy and proud over the fact that clearly we're all astoundingly biased in finding the death of American-Strangers far more tragic than the death of Non-American-Strangers.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
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      Mike Russo 4 years ago from Placentia California

      loveofnight : I agree with you. I used to get a warm fuzzy feeling when I saw the lights on at night. I wished you could have seen the towers, they were a sight to behold. Thanks for dropping by.

    • loveofnight profile image

      loveofnight 4 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      I remember that day very vividly, I was watching TV at the time when breaking news interrupted the show that I was watching. I could not believe what I was seeing as I was seeing it just before the second plane made it's presence known.......One thing that sticks with me is that I have always wanted to see these towers , could drive there in a matter of a few hours and never did, now I never will. So much loss on that day, so many tears that have not dried up.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
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      Mike Russo 4 years ago from Placentia California

      Lipnancy: When I was at the Dallas Fort Worth airport, there was so many armed military, it was as if I had stepped into a time machine back to WWII. Thanks for dropping by.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      This article saddens me as I remember. I was also on a plane the day the airports reopened and will never forget the armed guards and how strange it was to see them in my own country.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
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      Mike Russo 4 years ago from Placentia California

      Dee aka Nonna: I'm glad everybody was O.K. Those were trying times. I didn't tell the whole story about when we were in Dallas. Three of our students had relatives that were working in the WTC that day. Two of them were contacted and had left the WTC area. The other one was a brother of one of the students and he couldn't be found. They finally made contact with him on Friday. He was injured and was in a hospital, but was O.K.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 4 years ago

      You thanked the readers for allowing you to share your experiences....well I thank you for sharing them. That day is one that we should never forget. What happened changed everything.

      I was working in Ohio...had been on that assignment for about a year. One son lived in Brooklyn but worked in Manhattan just a few blocks from the WTC. By other son lived in Virginia. I was frantic...scared senseless. My son in Virginia and I kept trying to get through to my NY son and calling each other every few minutes..... It was mid afternoon before I could get through to him....I was so relieved that I just broked down and cried.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
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      Mike Russo 4 years ago from Placentia California

      maxoxam41: I'm not sure that I did imply anything. Are you talking about conspiracy theory? Or do you mean we should blame Bush and Rumsfeld for 9/11?

    • maxoxam41 profile image

      Deforest 4 years ago from USA

      Peoplepower, you can't possibly impute to Arabs what happened to 3000 Americans that day! If Rumsfeld and Bush were guilty in the eyes of the Europeans for the perpetration of the crime, why are we so dubitative?

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 4 years ago from Placentia California

      JayeWisdom: You are welcome. My hope is that, in some ways, we have come away from this stronger than we were when it happened. Thanks for the votes. Take care

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Details about that time still cause chills, and looking at photos from the WTC is eerie....I'm glad your schedule got you away before the disaster. My heart still aches for those who lost their lives and for their families and friends. It is a time Americans will never forget.

      Just as I recall where I was and what I was doing when I learned of JFK's assassination, I recall 9/11 vividly. Both are incredibly sad memories.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Voted UP++

      Jaye

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 4 years ago from Placentia California

      HSchneider: I am so sorry to hear of your losses. I got chills after reading your comments. You were very lucky. I was only there for a week, but I could understand how it could be a village. I throughly enjoyed my stay while I was there. That was a frighting time and think we are all still traumatized in some way. They say time is the healer of all things. But it is still tough...take care.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      I worked at 5 World Trade Center from 1981-1999. I was there for the first bombing. I was working in downtown Brooklyn on 9/11. Luckily I went to work early and passed through there to get my subway train at 7:30 A.M. It was incredibly sad for me on that day. I lost several friends and acquaintances and also a large part of my early working life. The World Trade Center was almost a village to me for those 18 years.