I write this now, with a feeling of total remorse, knowing there was no way for me to stop what was happening and continuing to happen, because I would have been stopping heroes who went by, to their chosen destiny!
I’m writing this to record an event that I experienced years ago. At that time I wanted to forget what happened, and just get on with life, but now I think it’s time to tell about that memory. Claire, not yet my wife, and I had traveled with my 1990 Peterbilt that I converted into a Motorhome to Long Island from Florida to visit her family. Being I had not yet visited with my sons in New Jersey, I decided to drive my car, which had been towed behind our Motorhome, to Smooth-on, my older son Trey’s Company, where my Son Michael also worked. Leaving Claire with her grandchildren, I left alone at a time of the day that forced me to take a different route than I normally took. Normally, I would take the George Washington Bridge and travel across New Jersey on I80, then south I287, then onto I78 and on to Smooth-on, but seeing the traffic, I detoured to the Long Island Expressway onto the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, although traffic on it too, was moving slowly, but at least it was moving. If you know anything about the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, you’d know it runs alongside of the East or Harlem River with a spectacular view of the West side of Downtown Manhattan. Creeping along, but enjoying the view that I knew and loved, I noticed smoke billowing from the tip of Manhattan, over the buildings facing me, but coming from further inside. I thought to myself, wow, some building must be burning with a terrific force to create such smoke. After a while the traffic began to stop and go, then eventually stop. My view was just of the smoke because of the many buildings in the way to allow me to see any further and the one that was actually burning. Eventually, we came to a complete stop and sirens were blaring away from all directions. The smoke became thicker and thicker as I watch. Many of us got out of our cars to see what the holdup was. Soon thereafter we watch cars with blue light on their roves, drive on the shoulder of our highway heading south. Across the river too were cars with blaring and flashing lights speeding south to the fire. More and more cars kept coming along the shoulder on our right, some with revolving red lights and sirens blaring and you could see the drivers frantically try to get somewhere, they were firemen. We sat for hours until the highway going north was empty. Then slowly all the cars going south were being rerouted over the center island and told not to stop and go just north. Naturally each driver said “Hey We want to Go South”, the policemen ignored everyone and made it clear that we had no choice “GO, go now!!. looking now for the last time at south Manhattan Island, the smoke really was expanding to cover the whole of tip of Manhattan. I didn’t get back to Long Island till dark, as everything was stopped dead. Not knowing what really was happening, as the radio had confusing stories of a major disaster in the downtown area. Had the highway traffic on my side not stopped until I was further south, I would have experienced firsthand what happened. So, all I can remember of the day are all those firemen who took to the shoulders to get to that fire, and what then eventually happened to them. This memory has been stuck in my mind and the main reason for trying to forget. God!! What happened to all those men who were driving to save others? They were driving to their own death, and the date was 9/11/2001.