I can't believe it's been 10 years since 9/11.
Some days it feels like 100 years ago.
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But other times I remember it like it was yesterday.
I was a young production assistant at a different cable news network; and when we heard about the first plane hitting the tower, we assumed it was a small plane and a horrible accident. But we immediately sent a reporter, and I tagged along. By the time we were ready to leave, the second tower had been hit too. This was no accident.
We immediately ran to the subway (the fastest way to get around NYC during rush hour) and hopped on the first train headed downtown. Just before West 4th Street the train stopped. I then spent the most terrifying 15 minutes of my life trapped on a crowded subway car with hundreds of equally frightened people. The rumors were flying - "They hit the White House," "Staten Island is under attack" and the fear that maybe we would be stuck in this tunnel for hours.
After what seemed like forever the train pulled into the next station and the conductor announced it would go no further, so we got out and walked. As we neared what is now known as Ground Zero the first tower collapsed. A huge cloud of dust moved up the street with people running and screaming. I ducked into a store to avoid the dust cloud.
We decided to go even closer. We could see the second building, destroyed, on fire, with objects falling from the windows on the higher floors. I admit it, I was either naïve, or in denial. I didn't want to believe people were really jumping to their deaths. I still can't get that image out of my mind.
The rest of the day we just walked around Vesey Street looking at the burning rubble, observing and admiring the firefighters and other rescue workers. Their courage, their organization.
We finally decided to go back to the bureau -- we had to walk, no cars allowed below Canal Street.
I had no way of getting home to Staten Island so I had to stay with some friends. By the time I got to their apartment I was covered in dirt, dust and debris. And I was still processing all that I saw that day.
10 years later and I am still having trouble understanding it.