Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11 - Then and Now

September 11, 2001 started out as a normal day. I don’t recall any transit delays that morning. About 8:30 I gave Freshman Seminar tour to a group led by Father John Dennehy. When I finished my colleague Jackie said that a plane hit the World Trade Center. A few minutes later I heard that a second plane hit the South Tower. Of course I heard about the planes at the Pentagon and Western Pennsylvania. I went into my boss’ office where we listened on the radio. After 12 noon when NJIT stopped classes I found at that all the mass transit in New York and New Jersey had stopped. My boss Richard Sweeny graciously let me stay over his house in Metuchen. Dan Noonan, another colleague, lived in Trenton and also came to work by train. Rich drove us to his house and let Dan take his car to drive home in Trenton. I watched the TV news for most of the time. I thought of all the thousands of people that likely perished. I was inconvenienced for one night, but others died. Rich’s son Tommy worked at the World Financial Center which was close to the Twin Towers. Tommy made it back home early in the afternoon.

NJIT open the next day, so Rich drove us back to work. I left NJIT about 12 noon and arrived home in the early afternoon. I took the attitude that I did not want those miserable terrorists to beat me and tried to resume my normal routine. When they published the names of those who perished I saw the name William Bernstein. I was a friend of a person with that name when I was an undergraduate at CCNY. When the New York Times gave short biographies of those who perished, I realized that this gentleman was not my friend at CCNY.

10 years later things have obviously changed for me and those who lost loved ones. Jack Gentul, the Dean of Students at NJIT lost his wife in the South Tower. I heard her name announced when I watched the ceremonies this morning. I think that everybody should stop for a few minutes today and recall the events of that terrible day. I feel especially badly for the children who lost a parent 10 years ago. There is a lot of construction that is progressing at the site and eventually there will some normalcy there. The memorial opened up today so we can pay our respects to those who died on September 11, 2001.

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