My 9-11 Story
I originally wrote this back in late September of 2001. I have copied it from the original source, with all typos and mistakes for you to read.
Astronomy gives us a glimpse of other worlds. Worlds both hopeful and dire. For some, Astronomy is an escape from the Earth, wondering what it would be like "out there." The desire to learn about the cosmos is captured by Johannes Kepler's Somnium, where he postulates that all the stars in the sky harbor worlds and peoples of their own. His life was filled with war and disaster, both around him and to him and his family. Yet, he yearned for a greater place, a higher order, to learn the meaning of the cosmos, and find the mind of God. Modern astronomy is no less compelling in its desire to seek out new worlds (new life and new civilizations?) and determine the origin and fate of our Universe. Even now, we are learning about thousands of worlds around other stars, with a handful that may be similar to Earth.
When we look up at a starry night sky, we embark on a journey. My journey has taken many twists and turns, but I am grateful for the support of my colleagues and my family, and my wife Donna, who had to live through this with me.
"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you."
-- Pericles, 430 BC
Sorry about last night and this morning. I had to go to the doctor to have my knee checked out. I injured it on the 11th, and I am starting to take better care of myself. I have been taking care of others, but now it is my turn.
The content of this web page is neither approved by nor associated with Cantor-Fitzgerald, eSpeed or Tradespark. Statements made herein are the exclusively the personal opinions of Jason Kendall, a proud employee of one of the greatest companies in the world. I put this legalese here in case anyone in the news media decides they wish to quote me or reference my words. The intent is a private communication between Jason and a class of students in Minnesota. Their names have been removed so that they need not come under undue scrutiny. Their worlds are turned around enough.
Please keep checking this page periodically and refresh it. I am nearly always online and can take email questions. Contact
Where to begin. It has been an amazingly difficult time since the disaster. Many people will never know the depths of horror and fear that I and many people that I know and even do not know have experienced. I will just write this out free form style and you can pick and choose as I go.
On the morning of the 11th, I was not completely certain of my job. On the 10th, eSpeed and Cantor Fitzgerald had just conducted a major firing. 30 people was fired from our company of 350. The economy was bad and it had finally hit us. We had survived for some time, since companies which create markets do well even in bad times, as long as the markets are active. You can think of us as a huge chat room where people agree to buy and sell Government Bonds, 30 year home loans, Energy Pollution Control Credits, loan and bond ownerships, and a wide host of non-equity investments. On the news you hear about the Dow and NASDAQ and AMEX. These are stock exchanges. NASDAQ is on Times Square, the New York Stock Exchange is down on Wall Street. The Dow is a list of stocks which are traded on the New York Stock Exchange. However, people trade with eSpeed and Cantor pretty much every thing else except agricultural products and stocks. Bonds, energy credits, loan ownerships, a lot of financial investment things. eSpeed is staffed with computer people who write the programs and adminster the machines for the online trading systems. Cantor primarily was the money and bond ownership behind eSpeed. We "make" markets using Cantor's money and portfolio as a seed. People then trade what they have using our market software, eSpeed. In this way, it is exactly like eBay, except that you are talking about millions of dollars in trades and thousands of people and hundreds of companies all trying to buy and sell at the best prices at the same time. So that is why we had not been hit. The economy was bad, but people were still trading. We make money off the trades through commissions. Recently, trading had started to slow, and now it is extremely slow. So when it slows, we don't get many commissions, and we can't pay people to work there, thus we get fired.
As it so happened some friends of mine were fired on the 10th and did not come in the next day. I was worried about my job that day because of tell-tale signs. Well, everybody was worried. So, I came home worried and tired. I slept in 20 minutes more than usual and got off the subway exactly as the first plane hit, about a five minute walk from the elevators that so regularly took me to the 103rd floor.
My earlier statements may have made it sound like I did not like it there or was always worried about my job. In point of fact this is not true. I had a large number of friends, and for the first time in my life, I had a job where I wanted to show up early and wanted to help my friends get things done and make things happen. It was not just a company, it was a place to live and grow. My friends who died on Tuesday the 11th, Nick, Zach, Abul, Marcello, Mike, Maria, Paul, Tony, Anthony, Albert, Shekhar, John, Bill, Ron and so many others, were people I looked forward to seeing the next day, and looked forward to helping them do what they needed to do. There were so many people I did not know that it would be difficult to imagine writing down all I knew about them and the good times we had.
Albert Elmarry had just bought a home and found out his wife was pregnant. He was from Egypt and we had fun kidding him as the Egyptian Magician. He was the gentlest person I have ever known. He had a sheep over his computer, and we always played with it, putting it in various places and positions all around the room. He always took it with a smile and a laugh.
Abul Chowdhury was my boss. He was perpetually buying new clothes, and getting them stained by sitting on M&M's. The number of times he broke his glasses playing football in our office is beyond count. He had funny habits, always coming in grouchy, but by midday he would lighten up and joke around with everyone. His father is the Indian diplomat to Russia and they are currently stuck in Pakistan, trying to get here, but it is very difficult.
Zuhtu "Zack" Ibis was the guy I sat right next to. I sat next to all of these guys in my small office, but Zach was always there. He was our resident Turk. He loved his wife, Leila and little son Mert. He is the only Turk who died, so Leila is being helped by the entire Turkish government. Zuhtu always watched soccer on his TV hookup through his computer, and we always kidded him during Ramadan, since everyone else could eat, but he and Abul had to wait until sundown to eat. And he loved to eat. Not that he was fat, he was an exert soccer player, and Mert wanted to be just like Daddy. Zuhtu always had a smile on his face and was a big prankster, filling up my drawers with styrofoam packing peanuts and other things. I miss his silly jokes and funny habits.
Nick Lassman was relatively new to the group, but he fit in well. He was our sport star, being a pro golf instructor and all-state in baseball and football while in high school. Nick had big dreams. He was going to do all of those things which made him the successful man he was on the road to become. He was moving up professionally. He and I talked frequently about our lives and our futures, and had just helped me cast a play which I had written. Nick was a friend to all people in the office, and he had an arm that could fire a ball like a baseball pro. He was our resident ladies' man, who was always looked at as the guy with all the girls, and all the girls did like him, but he was happily monogamous and faithful to the girls he dated. Some unconceived little boy or girl was deprived of a man who would be a great father and husband.
Marcello Matricciano was our company clown and stress-reliever. He was able to walk into a room, insult us all completely and make us laugh. His insults were right out of a South Park cartoon, and his friendship was as dear as his mouth was dirty. His bouyant character helped us all calm down in the bad economic days. And in the good days, he was a beacon of laughter and friendship. His wife and son, Nick, will sorely miss him.
Mike Collins was a great man of the world. He had travelled all over the world and met and married a lovely woman from the orient. One of his favorite dares to all of us was to go to an airport and buy a ticket for the next plane out from that desk. That would be your vacation. By his convictions, you could tell he did that more than once. He was a man of the world, who wanted nothing more than to have a quiet life after the wildness of his college and early Cantor days. A ranch in the mountains would have suited him fine.
Tony Coladonato was like a department head at a computer science department at a small tech college. He was also a classic loving Italian father. He loved his eSpeed kids to death. He came in every day, saying "It's the Great Jasoni." and I would reply, "It's Big Tony." Since he wore fine Italian clothes and wore no socks with his hundred-dollar loafers. He was the man who, during my interview, made me feel like I was going back to college when I was coming to work for a Wall Stree firm.
Anthony Perez was the father of three and the son, brother, and friend to many. He always explored new things, always on top of the latest technological gadget. We saw "Planet of the Apes" subtitled in Chinese on his computer DVD before it was even released into theaters. I have no idea where that came from, but I know that his fasciantion with new things and his caring for his friends and family was deep and genuine. Attending his memorial on Long Island last week, I was struck by the number of people there to remember him. I told his mother that the miracle had already occurred: she had had a wonderful son.
I could go on and on, and I will someday as well for the many I knew. Each had their own important story and set of loves. Paul Decola, who was always too loud for the morning hours. Maria Santillan, who made the room light up with her smile. John Bulaga, who sat for hours at his station, creating the Perfect Network, and was happy and skillful in telling you about it. Bill Fallon, the clown, the intelligent, caring man who made the world's crudest jokes, and said them in a way that they passed under everyone's radar the moment they were heard. Shekhar Kumar, a gentle man with a great capacity for figuring our arcane problems, and who had a smile on his face and a way about him that when he asked you to move a mountain, you'd say, "no problem." They were all great people, and I did not drink enough beer with them, did not eat enough dinners with them, did not get to see them become fathers and mothers, did not get to see them build their lives, did not get to see them bring in their kids, did not hear enough of their jokes and dreams. The loss is staggering and will never go away. New thoughts and new friends can only be added to my life, and in time, I will see them as I remember a beautiful dream. The will become "a time long ago", just as my childhood has done, where I ran around with Mike, Brett, Harry, Matt, Tim, Jeanie, Grover, and many others through the woods of Illinois and Minnesota.
But now it is their time to be remembered and mourned.
My normal day was pretty standard for a financial business on Wall Street as a UNIX System Administrator. I built machines, I maintained them, I set up programs, and devised ways to get them to run our software better and easier. I helped to create new programs and new machines. Even as I sit here and type, I am monitoring machines at work in New Jersey through the internet connections I have. So, work is not far away for computer techs. Since the attack I have worked three 24-hour shifts, thankfully not consecutive, to rebuild our company. I have gone in weekends and slept at my desk a few times.
That morning, I woke up at 7:00, but was too tired from the night before, having not slept very well, and I slumbered in bed until 7:30, while my wife, Donna, got ready for her day. She was set to go on some auditions and to her recording studio and was going to make an early day of it. I got up and went to work as usual. For me, that is a subway ride from the 207the street stop on the A train all the way down to the WTC. A 45 minute ride. I slumbered and was barely awake.
I got off the train at Chambers street and began my five minute walk to my elevators in World Trade Center 1. That was when I saw a large number of people running towards me saying nothing at first. It was like they were all going to try to catch a tour bus or something, then someone yelled that there had been an attack and that the building was on fire. I found a pay phone and called up there. I figured that since we had the scare from the New Jersey PATH trains under the river a few months ago, that this was another scare, and I needed to know if they were evacuating the building. I called upstairs and there was no answer, so I assumed they were evacuating. two of my co-workers had suddenly appeared next to me out of nowhere and we chatted about the situation upstairs. That was when I went to the surface by the post office on Church street right outside the pavilion between the two towers. I looked up and saw all the paper flying and saw the fires starting to rage. It was a bright, sunny day with a crystal clear blue sky. The beauty of the day was made strange by the ugliness I was witnessing. The buldings were straight up in my view. I had to twist my head to see up. I saw that the plane had hit below our floors and I knew that my friends were probably on their way down at that moment.
I did not know at that time that a plane had hit. No one was speaking very clearly. I saw a man in the street. He was a big guy, well over 6 feet, fat even for his size, with a black goatee and short, corporate hair. He was howling with tears and pain. He was crying and getting close to real panic. I went over to him.
Sir, are you alright?
My wife, she's up there. She's up there. I just kissed her goddbye. She is up there.
How long ago?
5 minutes. She works up there. I just kissed her.
Sir, does she have a cell phone or a pager?
She has a cell-phone. I've been trying her but the lines are busy.
Keep trying to call her. You just dropped her off? Maybe she didn't get up there yet. She might be stuck on an elevator. She will be all right. The elvators have brakes and they stop them from falling. She will just be stuck and the rescue workers will get to her. It'll be okay. It is a terrible accident but she is probably just stuck in an elevator.
The man looks up and starts sobbing huge heaving sobs and howling. The crowd gasps in such a loud voice of horror and shock that I am compelled to look up and see people falling off the builing. Jumping. The fire had grown very quickly while I was talking to him. His jacket was gray. His shirt was white. Her dress was blue and her top was red. They flailed their arms against the impact to come, all the while trying to hold off the impact, pushing away what they saw rising quickly at them, sorry that they had not tried to run through the flames. I could see their eyes. I could see them see us. They looked at us. They looked at the ground. It took them a long time to fall.
I turned around to the people in the street, since I heard sirens. The crowd was still watching as others jumped. I heard their cries, as they tried to stop the jumpers with their hearts, their fear. I started yelling at them.
Don't look! Just turn away! Move out of the way for the ambulances! Let the firemen through! Get out of the street! Don't look!
Then I heard a sound which I cannot right describe. It was simply a jet, just like the ones at airports, but it was right above me. I turned to look, since the sound was directly over me, and I saw the plane melt into the building. It really didn't bounce off, the two just simply merged. They blended together, and the huge bloated cancer of fire and blackness grew. It was just a black and red ball that grew and grew.
I watched for just a second, but that second was an eternity. I saw the clear blue sky. I saw the plane simply ooze into the building. I saw the shimmer of white shards of confetti. I was briefly reminded of a ticker tape parade. However, I quickly broke my fascination and awe to realize that the confetti were actually pieces of the building and the plane on fire flying down towards me. I turned to run acros the street and behind a building not 30 yards away. Those 30 yards were very long and slow. I noticed a pain in my knee, but ignored it. I saw a woman trip over a chain fence. I saw a plane engine smash a car that I was standing next to just 5 seconds ago. I saw the woman again, closer now, as she had turned over and was trying to stand up from a sitting position. She looked up in the air and her face froze. I considered trying to put a hand out to help her and saw the windows all around me being shattered by falling debris. I ran on, thankful that she at least would not be trampled because the chain fence would stop people from running over her. I looked up at the building, now completely aflame, just seconds after I was looking at people jumping out of exploded windows. Just seconds after I had seen a man howling over his wife. Just seconds after I saw hundreds of firefighters and policemen rush to the scene.
I decided at that point it was best to leave. I started walking north. My knee hurt immensely, so much that I staggered as I walked. As I walked I told people to head north that the buildings were not safe, that would fall any minute. I was afraid to start a stampede, so I started talking at length to people I had never met. I helped a black woman from Queens who lost her shoe when the second plane hit. She was crying uncontrollably. I helped her to her feet and asked her name and helped to her to think a bit more clearly, and take her mind off the planes and the building, asking her where he home was and if her kids were safe and if her husband could be reached. Little, practical things helped people get away from panic. Thinking about manageable things, like what your phone number was and knowing where your kids are and what you name is help to alleviate panic.
I went into a deli on Broadway a few blocks north and talke to some guys who ran it. They had heard a lot of things, and that is where I heard about the Pentagon. I bought Gatorade and aspirin. They told me their delivery guys were coming in from Brooklyn and they would not be able to cross the Brooklyn Bridge and restock them. I called my wife and left her a message that I was safe at 9:30 at th deli's pay phone. They let me use their regular phone to try to call Texas where my parents were. All long distance was being routed through the WTC at the time, and those connections were melting in the fires of thousand-degree jet fuel burning out of control.
I left a message with Donna on her answering machine, and I started to walk home. Inwood, on the north end of Manhattan was 16 miles away. The subways were stopped, and the buses were paralyzed. All transportation was down. I had to walk. So, I walked very slowly. My knee was aching and I knew that I had to walk 16 miles on torn ligaments. healing would come later. The most important thing was that I was coming home.
I stopped at a friend's place in SoHo, Broadway and Bond. He is running a third-party bid for Mayor of New York City. He was walking outside, and I greeted him first of all. He was out of breath, running around trying to get in touch with all the people he knew. I went inside his office and rested and watched the towers fall on television. I was glad to be alive, but my shock and sorrow were extremely deep. I knew there was enough time to evacuate, but it was only later that I learned just how deadly the event was.
750 people killed in my company alone. There were only about 350 of us left. My friends in my work area, a room with 10 desks, were all there. My political friend had called me at work at 8:45 to see if would leave work and come to SoHo to help him in the primary elections. My friend Nick answered saying that "Jason would be here in half an hour." A minute or two later, and Nick was fighting his last battle.
I left Ken's place and walked north, determined to get home. I went about 5 miles, talking to people and stopping at drug stores for arthritis cream and gatorade. I met other people who worked there. Other people who had been close. I walked with Blacks, Hispanics, Indians, Muslims, and even met a brave woman wearing her shoufa proudly on 34th Street by Macy's. People gave herr dirty looks, but there were no lynchings. Everyone I talked to was trying to get home, to see loved ones and to connect with people around them, trying to make sense of the violence we had all witnessed.
Tens of thousands of people walked north, as bridges were closed to walking. Tens of thousands walked north, bankers, stock brokers, grocers, men, women, kids, just everyone was going home all at once. All traffic was stopped.
And everyone was calm.
There was no looting. There was no need to ask drivers to wait at stoplights that had lost power. There was no shortage of help for people who just needed to sit down. People asked complete strangers what they knew, who they were, where they had been. I walked next to thousands of people I did not know. We were refugees inside our own city. We were the people you occasionally see on the news from far-away lands. We were the ones walking home and cramming the few buses to bursting. We were the ones who sat in the street crying. We were the ones who knew the people in the buildings. We loved the buildings as farmers love the land, as miners and hikers love the mountains, as sailors love the sea. And we walked away from their absence. All the while, we looked back to not see them there anymore.
I had bought a new pair of shoes near Madison Square Garden. Dorky fasionable shoes from Cat. The ones where your feet look like little square boxes. They were more comfortable than my dress shoes. My knee and leg had swollen up so much that taking off and putting on my shoes would have been nicer had I been unconscious.
I eventually got on a bus at 59th Street, six miles from the World Trade Center. I squeezed on, and was packed in with about 100 other people on a bus that was desgined for 45 at the maximum. We stood literally in each other's faces and recounted our journeys that day. The street-tough kid with all the tattoos said nothing and was visibly shaken. The older matronly black women were scared that their boys would be called off to war. The woman standing next to me was an elegant girl and we started talking. She told me of her boyfriend (of course, first off, even though I mentioned my wife first. no flirting here...) She told me how she moved wy uptown and how she lived in the big Muslim community in Astoria, Queens. She said getting across the bridges was impossible, and was staying up in the north end of town with friends. I listened, and was angry, sad shocked, and frightened for the future. My knee hurt immensely, but the older women around me were doing much worse. I would heal, but their faith the future had been destroyed.
She and I got on the first subway going north at 125th Street and I came all the way home. People were getting angry at tellers for not knowing what trains were out and what trains were running. I limped home from the 207th Street stop, 16 miles and 6 hours away from the WTC.
My wife was there. She had gotten my numerous messages on her service and had called my family all over the country, telling them I was all right. She did not receive my first message until 2 hours afterwards. The phones were out and she forgot to check her beeper. My father had called and asked my wife if his son was dead.
I layed down and cried for the rest of the day. I watched television and saw it over and over again, and I started to realize that none of my friends or co-workers could have made it out alive. I learned that the elevators were shot down from their concourses on the 78th floor like bullets 6 stories underground. I learned that a friend was on the 78th floor was burned with 3rd degree burns over 80% of her body. I learned that the elevators were shot out of the roof and that the stairs were destroyed for at least 4 stories. I learned that the fire was so hot at the top that winds from the elevator shafts caught people's clothes on fire on the ground floor. I learned that my friends called home and their loved ones before trying to escape. I learned that the people I had helped get close to the buildings when I was there had all died as they rushed in to help. I learned that handicapped people were left on the middle and lower floors because people were panicking and could not bring themselves to risk their own lives to save another. I learned hat my friends had probably died from suffocation within minutes due to the chemicals and burning plastic on the floors below. I remembered that I had my South Park wind-up dolls on my desk at work. I remembered that my window was a half mile up and that there was nothing in my office that could be lowered that far.
Now I am healing and going to so many memorials. So many services. So much pain. We are coming together to build the company. I have been there for numerous 24-hour shifts where I would feverishly build machines and fix software. I would not eat for days. I would stand up from my new desk and find I had been sitting and working for 7 hours without stopping.
My brother Damon drove down the next day with his girlfriend Jessica. It was good to see him, but I was so confused I did not know how to relate to him. I told him I loved him and that I was thankful he showed me how to go to the bathroom when I was a baby.
I have talked with family and friends with great frequency since then. I went on a cruise on the Hudson River on last Friday, the 21st with my U of Texas alumni association. It was the first time I had been down there since the 11th. I saw from the boat by night the wreckage, and the lights. I saw the buildings that were now considered tall which I remember looking down on as if they were ants themselves.
I have seen great horror. I hope that you never have to see it in your lifetime for yourself.
I will include emails sent to me through Mr. Hatten and I will post my answers below as I get time. Work is getting very busy, with us having to take up the work of literally three other people to get the business back up and running to what it was before. Thank you all for your interest, thoughts and prayers. I am glad to help you understand how our world is changing and how I, and people like me, are coping with this terrible event.
I will answer directly and emotionally. It is important for all people to understand what the results of questions are and how they impact people who are very near events that are catatrophic. I do not plan to hold my opinions.
While my answers may not be pleasant or even aceeptable, you should all remember that the truly important thing is that you ask questions. It is even more important to remember that impertinence and questioning are the greatest of all the virtues. Just don't expect anyone to like you for posessing them.
Jason, Here are questions, comments and reactions from students of my third period English 11 class at St. Francis High School. I will send these in to you on one email per class. Please reply either to my email (with a cc to the student's particular email) or post on the site you created. Thank you for participating. As you can see, your story has touched a lot of young people's lives. They are truly moved. Our thoughts are certainly with you. * * * Mr. Kendall, What do you plan on doing with your life now? How do you think you are going to adapt to all the losses? Do you think you are going to do anything special for the families and friends of those who died? I wish you well and my youth group's prayers are with you as well as mine. I am continuing to work at eSpeed for the indefinite future, at least the next four or five years. The company is now like a family to me. I would like to go back to graduate school and get my PhD in theater history and criticism. I would like to take night classes next year and start that. Our company is adapting quickly to all of the losses, but we are not hiring at this time. Adapting to the losses is very hard. Picking up other people's jobs is hard, especially when we didn;t have time to document or write things down. I want to do as many things as I can for the other families, however I want to do more for my own family first. I live far away from my brothers and from my parents. All of my cousins live far away as do my uncles and aunts. Our company is having a large memorial service for those who died on Monday afternoon. I will probably not be able to go because I have to keep the business afloat. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Mr. Kendall, I thought yours was a really sad story. I thought it was a really nice thing for you to write all those good things about people that you worked with. I would like to know what the exact feeling was you had inside when you heard that (it was) a plane that hit the building? Whether it was a plane or a bomb, the result was still the same. Nearly 3000 I originally wrote 7000, but that was when nothing was really known people died. I pitied the poor people on the planes. My brother Damon's girlfriend's boss was on the plane that hit my building, World Trade Center 1, the North Tower. He was a lawyer in Portland, Maine, who was on his way to Bangkok to prepare for his 5th trip to climb Mount Everest. He was a Marine and I am sure he did all he could to overpower the hijackers. Describing my exact feelings is nearly impossible. They are so complicated and tangled that the question is unanswerable. It is not that I am confused about what they are, it is that there are so many and they are so powerful and sudden in their magnitude and direction. They way one thinks about things, the paths your feelings take after such life-changing events cannot be fully explained or fathomed. It is not simple or explainable, nor shall it ever be. I can't really know how you feel or felt, but it has to be very hard. I give you my greatest condolences. Can I ask you a question? About how many people died that you know, whether good friends or acquaintences? Also, did any of them jump out of the building? If this is too hard, don't answer. Thank you for sharing your story with me and my class. Your question touches some extremely sensitive points, and directed at a person who is not as thoughtful and open, it might be construed as extremely offensive. I am not such a person. Your question is valid and understandable. Did I witness any of my friends die? No, I did not. Witnessing cruel death is beyond imagination. Knowing that others are dying right in front of you is hard to fathom. Running so that you are not one of them makes you understand that that end will come to you as well. And that does mean all of us. You too, students, and now friends. You may dismiss my statements and believe it may not or will not happen to you, or you may even think this exercise in writing and conversation amusing or disturbing because of the topic or the way I am writing it. But rest assured that death does come to us all. No one gets out of life alive. So, it really not important that those people died on that day, it was the terrible and evil way in which they died. I am thankful that I could not see my friends suffocate on burning plastic or roast in thousand degree fires or be crushed by tons of rubble. All people who jumped were on the 80-90th floors. There was a huge fire burning inside and the temperatures must have been nearly a thousand degrees. They jumped because the heat was so great they felt they had no choice. Running through it to get to the stairs was not an option. They would have burned to death in seconds. I knew quite closely about 30 people who died and about 750 people died that day from my company alone. No one above the 90th floor was seen to have jumped. It is quite possible they all died in the broken stairwells from smoke inhalation in the first twenty minutes. I hope they did, so that their last moments were merciful and quick. Were you still at the site when the building collapsed? No, I was about 1.5 miles north in SoHo at Broadway and Bond streets at Kenneth Golding's mayoral campaign headquarters. I watched them both fall on television. Dear Jason Kendall, I was just wondering during that time that everything was happening was it hitting you while it was going on or did it take until later on when you could actually realize what happened? This is an interesting thing. I knew exactly what was happening, and in the moment, I was completely aware of my surroundings as the people all around me were. However, I did not go into shock as so many did around me. However, as I described above, the complete feelings are so complicated that a lifetime cannot work them out. Mr. Kendall, What do you think the United States should do about this terror? A very interesting question. Many people want to see someone die for the act, and the sooner the better. First of all, do not attack Sikhs or Arabs of Muslims or Jews or people who are simply different or who wish to create peace when eveybody else says kill. Bin Laden and his cronies, of which there are not many, truly hope to provoke us to walk our troops into Mecca and kill little Muslim boys and girls. There are ignorant pigs who think that will stop the problem, but in point of fact, that will merely increase the problem. Anyone who says otherwise is completely and undeniably wrong. To prove my point, if they were right, why isn't our President landing thousands of our troops in the Middle East like his father did a decade ago? Because that is not the solution. People who speak otherwise, whether they are your teachers, parents, ministers, police officers or elected officials, are abominably wrong and must be treated with care, for their hatred seeks to harm or kill someone, and if they cannot do it abroad they will find a way to do it at home. That will mean your friends, your neighbors, or anyone who simply looks different or talks in an "unpatriotic" way. Then what should we do? Thousands of hackers should find and slaughter their bank accounts, emails, and cell phones. Electronic warfare is best. Then when the criminals are found, they should be brought to the US to stand trail and be hung from the nearest tree if they are found guilty. However, we must be certain that we have the right people and that the governments who are holding them give them up freely. If we attack a nation in order to get a hundred or so people, then we will need to kill thousands in order to get at the actual perpetrators of the crimes. We had better be sure that we have the right people in order to sacrifice so many to our hatred and sadness. Bombing will serve little purpose except to assuage the people in our country who are screaming for blood. Afghanistan is already rubble from the Soviets, the Iraqis, the Iranians and everybody else who has wanted to to walk through there. What did it seem like when the plane hit the building? It seemed and was the most horrible thing that ever could possibly be witnessed. I hope that I and my fellow adults can protect you from ever having to experience such an event in person. Your teachers want to help you understand why people do things and what happened, without having to let you experience it yourself. Take this as a blessing. Jason, I'd just like to say sorry for all of the friends you've lost. We mourn for every person who perished in that terrible terrible tragedy. I couldn't imagine if I was in your shoes and I lost all of those dear friends. Thank you. How are you dealing with the events that happened on Sept. 11 and how different are things in New York now compared to before? New York is a quieter and more peaceful place. Also, since it was clearly not a little black kid who wanted to sell pot or a Hispanic kid who wanted to find a place for his gang, those kids with pot and gang guns are rady to help you. In fact, it is pretty darned safe to live in a neighborhood of 30% black and 50% Hispanic where the dominant street language is Spanish. This is because the gang kids are just as mad about it as you and me. Their parents, brothers, sisters and friends were killed, too. Now their gang guns are not aimed at each other, but are waiting for an even more dangerous time. They want to be sent to the front. But in the meantime, they are being nicer. Remember that the motivation to run drugs and be on the street is that the home life is simply unhealthy or unbearable. They go outside to meet their friends. They have to have money, so they run drugs. So the drug dealers are yoru friends too. The attackers have united us in ways you probably have not realized. Walk into Spanish Harlem, and it looks like a bad dream out of an episiode of "Cops" and if you mention that you were at the World Trade Center, the kid who looked so tough with his gang will tell you of his brother who was the janitor on the 103rd floor and how angry he is that he died. You will walk away with a new friend in a place you would have scared to walk for your life on September 10th. After the collision of the first plane, how many people were actually jumping out of the building and what areas of the building were they jumping out of? A lot. From high up. In what ways is your company helping with the NY situation? How is your company remembering the people they lost? Please visit our company website at www.cantorusa.com for all that information. First and foremost, I grieve for the losses that we have all suffered (during this tragedy). It was an impudent attack by a faceless loser. I only have one question that I have to ask. When you arrived at the WTC I assume there were many people watching, but did it make you sick with all of the onlookers just standing there, watching people die? I mean the people just stood there, which some of them died. It makes me sick in retrospect to think that some people like to watch the images of dying over and over again, as if it were something attractive, or that they enjoy watching people die. When you are there, however, you naturally turn your mind to how to help them. Since you realize, then, that if you were up there trying to help them, you would be faced with the same situation, then you grieve for them and thank God that you are not up there. People become quickly fascinated with death. Horror is a strange thing. It is like beauty in that you cannot take your eyes or your mind away from it. However, the underlying feeling is disgust rather than attraction. So, horror is something that is nearly impossible to not look at but at the same time you wish you were not seeing it. I am glad that I was able to pull myself out of that reverie and start yelling at people to get out of the way and let the ambulance through. I did not know that the people whom I was helping probably died secnds or minutes later. Dear Mr. Kendall, I am from St. Francis High School and I'm in Mr. Hatten's class. I wanted to ask you if there were a lot of people running in the building to help rescue friends, family or just co-workers. Yes, there were a lot of people trying to get inside. The Police and Firefighters were stopping anyone who was not trained for such duty from entering if they could. Most people were too fearful of the buildings at that point. Only the trained and brave resuce workers actually dared to go in there from what I imagine. Mr. Kendall, Have you heard from any of your co-workers who were in the building on the 11th of September? Do you think that you will hear from any of them? No one from my building, World Trade Center 1, the north tower, first to be hit, made it down. I have not heard that anyone above the 89th floor who made it out. The inital plane impact probably destroyed the stairs and the resulting fires from the jet fuel and the plastic probably suffocated everyone within minutes. Dear Jason, I'm glad that you wrote your story and allowed us to read it. Thank you. I just want to know if the fat man's wife died or if you even know. I'm sorry you had to see that horror. Thanks for your kind words. I do not know anything more about the man in the street. Where do you go to work now that the World Trade Towers are gone? Did you have any co-workers that made it out of the building? If so, what did they have to say about what happened? We work in New Jersey at our Disaster Recovery Site. It was designed to allow us to keep running the business in the event of a fire or some major emergency. Well, it happened. We are based out of Rochelle Park, NJ in a place that looks like a Minneapolis suburb. See above to answer your other questions. Five years ago my older brother was killed in a car accident. To this day it is still really hard and painful for me to tell someone or write about it. I know it must be really hard for you to go back to that day and write it down for us to read, but I want to thank you for doing that and letting us know your story. I am sorry for your loss. Your burden, in all reality, is greater than mine. I am alive. My family is safe. I am deeply angered, saddened and depressed about the devastating loss to my friends and their families. But, I will be able to someday move on. Others' lives stopped that day. Others' hearts were killed that day. I will carry the images of what I saw that day for the rest of my life, and I have become far older as a result. I will never forget, but my grief for my friends will turn to the good memories and to the killers who took their lives away. Your heart and your love will not be able to bring your brother back, and that is how the nearly 7000 families here also feel. They want justice and the perpetrators punished. Just like you did and probably still do. As you can see, I cannot imagine your grief because I have not experienced it. Some day my brothers will die. Some day my parents will die. Death is not what matters, we all must do that. It is how they died which makes it difficult. If one is ready to die, then death is as normal as breathing. It is simply the most normal thing that you will do only once. Just remember the good things about him, and he will live in your heart. You can remember the bad things, too. That's okay. You have what you have. Those memories and experiences are yours and yours alone, and they are to be treasured. The fact that it is painful to think about means that you loved him very much. You know he would want you to live. Everyone says that to everyone else, that he or she "would have wanted us not to cry but to live our lives." That may be overstated and overused, but its truth is not lessened by its overuse. Live your life. Your brother will always be there for you in your heart and mind. Go to college. Or not. Go to Timbukktu. Or not. Simply wake up each day thankful for the sunrise and make the best of it, trying to find out some new thing or trying to open your mind to some old thing that you may have overlooked millions of times. Sometimes it is the littlest things we remember and cherish. Those little things, if we take time to actually notice them and honor them. Like the tree you walk by on your way to school, it's been there for decades. Think of all things it has withstood. Think of the fact that it has simply been right there all along, unmoving, except in the wind and rain. Such simple things, as well as the big things, are all the same. If you do something huge, it is the same as truly noticing something small. And in all of this, there will be your brother, as you notice him everywhere. And he is not dead. He is with you. What do you think our country should do about the attack? Convict the criminal murderers and their accomplices and then build up their homelands so that the people who supported them have nothing to complain about. These people are very angry at us for our foreign policies. If we completely rebuild their infrastructure -- after they give up the criminals -- then they can have the same opportunities that we do and they can live healthier, safer and more open lives, and not feel the need to support people who would turn them onto paths of evil. This is exactly the same as the drug war. This "war" could be immediately stopped by legalizing it. Drugs are only as bad as we choose them to be. If we take away the value of the drugs by allowing the legal opening of shops, drug-related violence would disappear nearly overnight. Likewise, if we rebuild the cities and homes of the people who help us find Bin Laden and all of his cronies, then we will take away the need of these people to hate us and their violence against us will disappear instantaneously. To disagree with this idea shows ignorance and folly. To act only through disagreement with these ideas will only lead to more soldiers and civilians dying on our own soil, just like in the drug "war." We rebuilt Europe and Japan after the Second World War, and we are in the process of doing the same thing for Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. If we do the same thing in the Middle East, we will succeed. If we walk away and leave the Middle East as we left it after getting Bin Laden, then we will experience even more attacks, and many of them will occur deeper inside our country. So, put on trial and execute those who perpetrated the attacks. Destroy anyone who stands in the way of that goal, and then rebuild and help the land from which these people came so that they never consider doing it again. Were you still there when the second plane hit? When did you first start thinking of your co-workers? Yes, I was right underneath when it struck. That is why I hurt myself, running from falling debris. I thought of them first and foremost, since I was okay, and that I would soon be talking to my family to let them know I was alright. Were you still around when the buildings collapsed? No, I had walked north about 2 miles. Just wondering, did the man's wife ever make it? You said you talked to her husband but I would like to know what happened (if you know). Do you have any family members that were hurt in the building? I don't know if she did. No one from my family was there. Is it hard for you to write about the attacks? Have you ever thought about where you would be if you had gotten up on time? If I had gotten up on time, I would not be typing this. In a way it is hard to write, but in another way it is not. The hardest thing is trying to decide what to tell you and what not to tell you. You saw most of it on television, but there continue to be horrible things revealed and understood. I have been vague about certain specifics on purpose. It is important that you do not have the same experiences I have had, even through a proxy. Your imagination can create many scenarios and they are all probably right. However, if you have the emotional experience and understanding of the situation then you won't be able to sleep at night. Suffice it to say that when you were very young and your father or mother had to calm you down from a fever where you thought there were monsters under the bed, they said there were no monsters. That monsters only were from stories. Well, there are monsters. They really do exist. These monsters are scary just like the ones from your stories and just as cruel. Now we need to be ready to fight them, and we need to hunt them down. For a short while, they will succeed in scaring a lot of people and make people behave badly out of anger and sadness. But in the long run, we will eradicate the disease that is plaguing us and we will rest at ease again. When you were talking to that guy who just kissed his wife goodbye, did she ever make it out on time? I imagine she did not. Jason, How can you get up every day and go to work at the same job that almost killed you? Also, how much money do you make per year? Good question. You have the correct mindset to actually go back to work in such a situation. You have to have humor and understand the possible strangeness of your situation in life. I can go back because it was not the company's fault for the attack. My friends need my support and this is how I make my living. I make a lot. Come on out here and I will get you a job as a trader when you graduate. Did that guy's wife live? What was your mind thinking that day? God has blessed you and many others that day. I'm sorry for all of the losses of your friends. May they rest in peace. I imagine she did not. Thank you for your kind words. What were you thinking when the towers were hit? Run. See above for more answers. This is just a comment. I am really sorry what you had to go through and how many friends you have that passed away. I can't even imagine what you're going through and I really hope you find a way to feel better. I'm really sorry. United we stand. Stay Strong. Love, Thanks What is your IQ to get a job like yours? Mine is apparently very low. (-; You would make a good trader as well. I sense the humor in your question as well as the simple honesty of it. I do not know what mine is, but that is not the criterion for getting a job on Wall Street. You can get such a job as mine by deciding that you wish to take a huge chance and move to the Big City. When you get here, you will be off and running at once. When I first moved here, my brother and I lived illegally in a warehouse under the Brooklyn Bridge. I decided I should get a job, so I started teaching high school math in the Bronx. It was like jumping into a raging river. The kids were tough and funny, always testing me like feisty horses. Their lives are not much different than yours. They listen to nearly the same music. They dress like you would like to dress, except that your parents and teachers usually get a little bent out of shape when you dress like that.
September 10, 2003 One small side of bravery. Not forgetting is one side. Bittersweet remembrance. It passes. One kind of bravery is knowing that time fades memory, and the great struggle to keep a token from that time, --the sun on a soccer field with friends running in circles-- soon to become long ago makes the knowledge that you had the memory once, where it lies just outside what you know, becomes a simple reaching that hurts the more for knowing that at one time you knew. Humanity is the ache and the single tear when you can't find that sunny day that loud laugh that gross joke that little speck of thought that should be right where you put it. But isn't. It wasn't much. Where is it now? I put that memory of that better day away as I slogged through the doldrums, knowing that I could come back to it. But there it went.