Remembering 9/11: A First Hand account

{Editor’s Note: Graphic Portrayal — The events of September 11, 2001 marks one of the darkest days in American history. Our communications intern Anthony Corona was there that day, watching the events unfold in front of him on a ferry to lower Manhattan — the images burned into his memory years after losing his own sight. The portrait offers a raw reflection on that morning’s events as they unfolded.}
They stood as symbols for our country, two tall and impressive 110  storied buildings at the lower foot of Manhattan. They could be seen for miles from land or approaching by sea. They held thousands of people daily conducting business around the globe. The twin towers were shining examples of American engineering and business. Ironically they formed an impressive eleven in the city skyline.
9/11 the day is forever etched into the fabric of history; Lives were tragically lost, Hero’s were born and the safety illusion of America was forever erased. 19 years ago I still had sight and I rode the Staten Island Ferry daily watching those impressive towers growing larger over the 30 minutes it takes the ferry to cross NY Harbor.
19 Years ago I had a burgeoning career  working in Downtown Manhattan. I would ride the ferry every morning many times preferring to stand out front in the wind of the crossing boat with headphones on, revving myself up for another work day.
19  Years ago today time stood still and for the first time in over 100 years of service the ferry stopped mid run and sat in the harbor in horror as hundreds of people aboard stared in shock at one tower rocked from the impact of an airplane. Flames erupted and the smoke furled up and out into the surrounding areas and then…. Screams ripped through the eerie silence as those hundreds of people watched a second plane… aim…. Hit.
19  years ago today I stood among the passengers on the Staten Island Ferry tears silently streaming down my face. The boat sat still for over 20 minutes until  an announcement that we would be returning to Staten Island. The engines re-started just as the next layer of horror occured; The first tower seemed to tremble and sink into itself. The sound was deafening, the smell was smoke and gas and some horrible metallic that actually reminded me of the smell of BLOOD.
19  Years ago I thought I was a man, I thought I knew everything. I couldn’t fathom what my eyes were showing me. I broke in many small ways and before I knew it I was sobbing like the little boy I was in that moment.
19 Years ago 4 people I loved never made it home. My cousin a FDNY  member, My best friends Father who worked on the 68th floor, My very good friend who worked on the 47th floor and an ex  manager I worked with when I was in college  all gone in those terrible moments. There wasn’t a single person I knew at the time who couldn’t say the same things.
19  Years later I can still hear the roar, smell that horrific stench and although I lost my sight a few years ago; I still see that second plane. I can still see the first tower fall. I can still hear the screams and sobs.
I can never forget. We can never forget.

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