September 11 Digital Archive






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September 11 Email: Body

Hello Everyone,

I just wanted to thank everyone who reached out to me- either through private e-mails or the list- for your concerns and prayers. As I was finally able to convey remotely, I was not directly in harms way last Tuesday. Because I was to start teaching last Tuesday, I choose to drive in to the museum that morning. And as I typically do on such days, I waited till 9 AM to leave so to avoid sitting in traffic.

I learned of the crashes as I left my home- literally seconds after the second impact- and watched the events unfold sitting where I could see both the TV and the unobstructed view of the two towers out my window. The twin towers are/were my main view from the front of the studio and many all night illustration sessions came to an end with the view of the sun rising from behind their cool blue silhouettes.

Years earlier, I grew up as they did, watching the progress of their construction as I walked to school each day. Tuesday morning they looked as always like the twins they were. Only this time, there were each hemoraging deep black smoke. This vision- and the knowledge that many people were in pain as I watched helpless through my window- had a powerful effect on my psyche. Like all of you, I tried to make sense of the unthinkable.

As the first tower began to stumble, I knew instantly what I was seeing. But I tried my hardest to find other reasons for the sudden expulsion of smoke and debre. The TV news announcers talked on- not yet noticing the new horror their studio was broadcasting out to the world. As the tower became engulfed, I moved to the window and prayed I was wrong. But after a moment- as the new anchor gasped "look at the monitor!"- I watched as the twirling shroud of smoke that surrounded the tower shifted in the wind and revealed blue sky. This sequence of events would be repeated almost exactly just one hour later.

By the time the second tower fell, I found I could no longer think right. It was like I had a been struck between the eyes by a sword made of ice and my brain had gone numb. I noticed after a while that I was paying close attention to the news reports when the speaker came to the part of the sentence where they had to give this horror a name. I kept waiting for someone to give me the words within which I could frame the day's events. None succeeded.

In the immediate aftermath of the collapse, the smoke rose in a column until it accumulated above the skyline. The mushroom shape was unmistakable. The image was borrow almost perfectly from a nightmare I witnessed in my dreams as a young boy growing up under the shadow of the cold war.

Later I would learn that a boyhood buddy worked on the 105th floor of the first tower to be struck. He is missing and, from what I could see, never had a chance. As children, we conspired to form a band together. The fact that neither of us owned a single musical instrument was only a temporary impediment. For the whole school year we each put aside a quarter a week to buy ourselves a guitar or two. I never asked him if, years later, the guitar he was playing was partially financed by his lunch monies.

Joe, myself, and a few mutual friends later became regular camping buddies through high school and college. We hiked waterfalls and sat around blazing fires playing music all night. During this time I discovered my connection to nature. And together we all shared this connection during these first forays into the world beyond our hometown.

Later Joe went to work down at Wall St. (I now realize that it was probably his suggestion to squirrel away the milk money.) Over the last 20 years our worlds diverged and our paths rarely crossed. He was enormously successful and had worked up to title of senior VP in a major firm. But in the few times we met in recent years, it was clear that we hadn't changed all that much. I wish his family the best and know that his is only one story among thousands. Each more special than the last.


September 11 Email: Date


September 11 Email: Subject

Thank you


“email285.xml,” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed March 27, 2023,