I got up early for monthly visit to client in Wilmington, DE. The Belt Parkway has an accident and is tied up. I am cursing up a storm listening to radio alternating between WNYC’s Morning Edition and WFAN’s IMUS in the Morning.
Warner Wolf, a local TV sports guy who does some radio, calls into his show after a news report of airplane accident. He lives in Battery Park City apartments across from the World Trade Center and describes what he heard and is seeing. I think it is a BS bit.
Finally get to the Verranzano Bridge and cross it. The first tower is clearly burning from the bridge. Radio stations start to disappear. Imus is still on. Now accident reports are turning into attack reports. Warner Wolf is still giving the commentary on what he sees and hears. Imus reports President Bush is in a grammar school down in FL reading to children.
As I get to the Outterbridge Crossing into NJ, the second tower has been hit and reports of the attack on America are starting. Imus has complete coverage as well as the commentary of Wolf. It is pandemonium at the first rest area of New Jersey Turnpike (NJT) heading south. People are running around like chickens with no heads screaming we’re under attack. I use my cell phone to call my office and home. I tell my employer who has given the go home order and leave message for my family (wife and four children, 15, 13, 12 and 10) I am going to work; and, these dirt bags whoever they are, are not going to scare me into running home and hiding. Last time the cell phone works.
Find a land line at rest area pay phones and call DE. I tell my client where I am and ask if he will be there when I get there. He tells me if I am coming, he will be there.
Make the lonely trek to Wilmington DE listening to Imus and the further accounts of the Pentagon and PA attacks. The coverage is breathtaking and solemn. Warner Wolf’s depiction of what going on is reminiscent of a radio era long gone; like, listening to Red Barber or Vin Scully paint the picture of a ball game or Murrow’s reports on WWII.. Hear about the airports closing, airspace shutdown, Mayor Guliani has called off primary elections, UN General Assembly cancelled for emergency meeting, Logan is source of flights, President is airborne, Air Force is mobilized, Congress and the VP have run for the safety of underground …
All I see are emergency vehicles making a steady stream to NY. I get to DE. Wilmington is a ghost town. Red Cross is at the city’s gate along with military.
Get to building which houses federal court for Bankruptcy and is across from the Federal building of DE. Get to client’s floor, discuss the unimaginable site I saw from the bridge and get to work. He is on 9th floor and I can see from the windows in conference room some the rooftop armed positions taken up by federal and military personnel. It is surreal.
Went to lunch at Cavanaughs and watched the TV from bar as I tried to eat my usual Caribbean Chicken sandwich. Had to leave after the umpteenth showing of the building collapses. The pictures of the dust covered pedestrians and emergency personnel was heart wrenching.
Finish compilation of monthly periodic report for client, sign and date it with “God Bless America” under the independent accountant’s report signature.
Give client and his remaining staff a big handshake and hug for standing their ground in what will become this generation’s “Day of Infamy” and start the lonely trek home.
All access to NY is shutdown for emergency. Get off NJ Turnpike exit to Outterbridge Crossing thinking I can back door it in only to find out it is closed all the way to NY. Talk to a NJ trooper and explain my dilemma. He asks if I know the Garden State Parkway (GSP); and, where it intersects to upstate NY. I do, he suggests that route as it will get me “closer” than I am now.
Hit the NJT heading toward GSP exit and stop at rest area. People are stranded all over asking how to get to or through NY. I walk to the big map with a few and quickly draw a crowd. I show them the route from the NJT to the GSP to Route 17 to the NY Thruway. Some ask if they can follow, I say sure. Start a caravan and finish the route. We stay to the right at about 40 mph to allow the stream of emergency vehicles heading to NYC to bypass without incident. Most go separate ways once we hit the Yonkers area at the Cross County Parkway which I take to the Hutchinson River Parkway to the Whitestone Bridge which is closed. There is a NYC cop at toll booth. He waves me to a stop; and, asks what the hell I am doing. I give him the events of my day, show him my driver license to verify my home address and show him my client’s financial statement which I had compiled earlier. He sees that the work I do is for the United States Department of Justice by the wording of the report and asks what I do.
I tell him about my day and now all I got to do is get home to complete the day.
He moves the barrier, says something about the bridge will reopen shortly; and, be careful of emergency vehicles, stay on the Cross Island Parkway to the Southern State Parkway and then get off your exit.
I can see a steady flow of the emergency vehicles at or around the exits for Long Island Expressway and Grand Central Parkway.
Pull into my driveway to be greeted by my loved ones. Fear is evident.
We sit and talk the night away with WCBS TV on in background which was only station working at the time. We talk about their fears and the philosophy of life and what terrorism is and why one never backs down from a bully and should stand toe to toe with him and knock him out.
That night and the next morning we start to hear about the 44 residents of our village of 25,000, most moms or dads, who did not come home. All were better folk than I.
Now through the years I have watched their sons and daughters grow, their surviving spouses struggle, driven the streets renamed for them and watched the athletic events at the playing fields named in their honor; but, nothing is the same, nothing is better, nothing is over – it is something that will last a lifetime of those who remain and were affected.
I watched the children of the village grow into young men and women graduate high school and enlist or join the services after college graduation. They still remember, some of them lost a mom or dad. Have them over for a few beers before they go and when they come back on leave. Least I can do.
Additionally we have sent our finest along with those of our allies to attempt to get the bad guys and prevent this from occurring again, yet it happens again in foreign lands against our people, those of our allies and the homelanders where the terror strikes.
We are in a new age and it aint the “Age of Aquarius”. If all Islam, Judaism and Christianity emanated from Abraham I reckon he would want a do-over at this point. If we could replace the hatred with tolerance and provide the hungry with food, the homeless with shelter and the parentless with love, we all be better off, but heck that might be too religious!
A little tolerance would go a long way and so would some integrity in doing the right thing.
Too many have died before, too many have died now and too many will die in the days to come.
God bless their souls and remaining families; as well as, the others and those who have perished in the fight against terrorism.