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Since this morning....

After I was rate-limited by Twitter (they are trying to fix it now), I went out for a run, the same longer run (six miles) that I used to take 10 years ago. Until last weekend, I had not taken that longer run since my cancer surgeries. As I ran today, I listen to Brian Lehrer on WNYC and the ceremony at the World Trade Center.

Here is what happened to me in that time 10 years ago...

As I emerged from the sanctuary of the Chase building after the first tower fell, on the plaza there in front of a sculpture in black and white, an African American couple passed, dazed. I asked whether they were OK. They nodded. I remember they were covered in white, as was I, except for the trails of dark tears on the woman's face.

When I came out of my refuge in the Chase building, I decided to walk east, away from the towers, as the second was sure to fall. As I walked east, it did, sending more dust through the air.

I saw people buying masks as a hardware store. They sold out.

I reached the East River and saw more police, fire, and emergency medical personnel arriving. Some saw me, covered in the dust, and stopped me to ask what it was like back there. They wondered what had happened to their brothers and sisters.

I misinformed them. I told them I'd seen the top of the tower fall, as I had. I didn't realize that the entire South Tower had collapsed.

I was desperate to clean my eyes, mouth, nose, and ears. I went into a nearly empty supermarket, still open, and picked up a bottle of water and roll of paper towels. The lady at the checkout barked, "closed," as I approached. Then she looked at me and her tough New Yorkness melted. She checked me out. I say that was the bridge from old New York to new New York.

Outside, first responders who had also left the scene came up to me so they, too, could use my paper towels and water to wash their faces.

I started walking north.

At the Brooklyn Bridge, I saw people walking across like refugees. I debated joining them, to get farther away from the destruction, but that also would have taken me farther from home in New Jersey.

I continued north and hooked up with a man in a business suit, just to have someone to talk with, finally. We compared stories. As we walked farther way from the Trade Center, I was the only person in site covered with the dust. Some people looked at me in horror. Others stopped and ask, "Are you OK?" That happened a lot that day. I asked the man with me whether I looked scary. He said I did but it was getting better as the wind blew the dust off me.

I stopped in newsstands trying to use a phone to call home. I wondered what the proprietors, some Middle Eastern, were thinking. As a reporter, I wish I'd just asked them. They let me try to use their phones but they were not working.

We walked by storefronts with TVs and crowds watching. That was the first time I saw how the world saw 9/11: towers in the distance with smoke rising; lower Manhattan with a cloud of destruction rising. It had looked so different to me, at eye level.

Stores were closing all the way uptown and by the time I arrived in Times Square, now shut, it was practically shut.

About 1 p.m., I made it to CondéNet's offices at 1440 Broadway, a block from where I work today. The building had been evacuated like all around. I begged the guard to let me up to my office there and he did. It was empty.
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42 comments
 
I hope you enjoyed your run. I was doing the same thing on the other side of the world this morning.
 
Thank you for sharing.
 
Thank you for the personal account Jeff, it means a lot to those of us who could only watch in powerless horror and vainly try to relate.
 
Jeff, I too appreciated your personal account. It was riveting and, I'm sure, catharsis for you.
 
thank you for sharing.
 
It is hard to comprehend that yours is only one of thousands and thousands of stories the vast majority of which we will never know. Thank you for passing your experiences on.
 
Thankyou Jeff. You always talk about the importance of living life in public - following your twitter stream and this has brought it home to me today and converted me. Thankyou.
 
Thank you for your eye-level account.My uncle worked near the Towers and had a similar account. I'm fortunate to have him still here.
 
Thank-you Jeff.
Your story made me wonder: Is there an initiative to capture all these memories online ? Seems like a worthwhile initiative. Especially as memories drift away so easily. Even traumatic ones.
 
I didn't expect to have these feelings today. As I was reading your live tweets, I read a tweet from my cousin. "I never handle this anniversary well. I still have nightmares about the smell."
I lost it. I thought I had put the sadness behind me.
No, this is good. It's not an overwhelming sadness anymore. It's measured. It's a deserved sadness.
Thank you Jeff.
 
I've always wondered what it sounded like...I have heard so little actual audio...your sensory description is somehow helping to understand in a new way. Thank you. Glad you are tweeting this. Thank you for your public-ness. You are my hero.
 
As today marks the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we should all take a moment to reflect back on all the innocent lives that were lost that day.

Remember to give thanks to the brave men and women that also lost their lives that day.

Continue to give thanks to the brave men and women that are
helping to keep our country safe to this day.

These people will never be forgotten.
 
Thanks for sharing, Jeff. Your posts encouraged me to write about 9-11 and how it affected me, just one of millions. Nothing comparable to your experiences and eloquence. Your posts also help better define the dialogue about what is journalism.
 
Thank you Jeff. This is a griping account of the day. I know from my experience of that day about the frustration of the phones lines being out or jammed. My boss at the time's Mother was living alone on the West Side and there was panic until a call finally got through to her...
 
Here is my 9/11 story -


On 9/11 I was in Suffolk, VA, at the Joint Forces Command Headquarters. I had flown in from DC the previous day. My regular office was at Crystal City, just across the road from the Pentagon.

We were about to start a meeting, scheduled to kick off at 9:00 am, and were watching CNN on the large screen TV in the conference room. We, of course, were interrupted by the events of that morning.

The JFCOM J-2 (Intelligence Officer) had his office next to our conference room and he was keeping us informed as to what was coming across the intelligence wires.

The first thing I did was try to call my wife, who was teaching school back in DC. Cell phone networks were not working, as many in that area discovered. However, my phone was capable of sending email, so I sent a quick not to my daugher - in Texas - that I was okay. She was then able to get the word out to the rest of the family.

My meeting eventually got started a couple of hours late, but everyone, by then, was thinking about getting home. I had flown in, but had a rental car. After calling Hertz, they told me just to keep the car and turn it in at BWI when I drove back.

Meanwhile, the JFCOM Intelligence Officer was trying to tell us what he saw was going on. It was an excellent example of the old military adage we all learned early on, "All first reports are wrong. Wait for better information."

Well, after all four planes were already reported down, there were still reports flying around that there were at least four more still up. It took about an hour to get that all sorted out and realize that those four airplanes were the total of the attack.

Then, I finally got through to my office and discovered that all were accounted for but two. Both were supposed to be in meetings at the Pentagon. Long story short, after several anxious hours, we learned that both were out in the parking lot as the plane flew into the Pentagon...both witnessed the crash. One told me that he heard a loud roar of an airplane...louder than he had ever heard in the vicinity of the Pentagon (Washington Reagan is across the Potomac) and when he looked back over his shoulder he saw the airplane on a low approach. The crash happened moments later.

Both of my people managed to get out of the parking lot and made it home only after several hours of traffic jams.

My wife was teaching school in the area and her principal came around and told everyone to keep their kids in the room. Eventually, parents began showing up to pull their kids out, but many students stayed in school for a while under the care of their teachers while the school was locked down.

I made it home the next day, driving to BWI where I turned in my rental car. It was eerie how quiet the airport was...no sound of jets. Once I got home to Bowie, MD, we could hear Combat Air Patrol flying above the DC area for days afterwards.

The day after that I went in to work, driving past the Pentagon. I could see the gaping hole in the side of the building. Later that day I went to the Pentagon to see my boss and the entire building smelled like smoke. I got as close to the burned area as security would allow, and work was still quite hectic in the area. Engineers were examining the structure. Some fires were still burning in the horsehair insulation in the overheads of the floors. But, most of all, I remember the firm resolution of everyone in the building that we were at war and things were not going to be the same.

Within a few months, I was given orders to temporarily attach myself to the 5th Fleet Headquarters in Bahrain. I found myself in Manama working with a NATO staff watching the invasion of Afghanistan, the insertion of the Marines in Khandahar, and the first attacks into the the mountains to attempt to get bin Laden.

It is hard to believe that was ten years ago. It is all so clear in my mind...it might have happened yesterday.
 
Well done for sharing Jeff, it couldn't have been an easy thing to remember. It prompted me to look at the footage at archive.org. I couldn't tell you what I did last Friday, but I sure know what I was doing 10 years ago when this tragedy occurred. My sympathy and well wishes go out to all those who lost people 10 years ago. Makes me happy they finally caught and shot the b****ard
 
Good for you, Jeff, for being able to listen to the ceremonies while being out for your exercise. I was with my daughter on the oncology floor of the hospital when it all happened, and I'm afraid that between the memories of her, and the tragedy of the day, it was just too emotional for me to re-live the experience today. I do think of and pray for all the survivors and their families and friends, tho.
 
Thanks for sharing your personal story. For those of us living outside of NYC, it provides a glimpse into the horrors experienced by many that unforgettable day. 
 
Thank you. I echo Vincent's comment above.
 
Thank you for your story.
Of all the ways you criticize and drive and push the digital medium to be better, today's was a peak: you managed to make it more human.
Thank you.
 
Jeff: How did people respond to your posts on Google+ compared to Twitter?
 
Thanks for sharing, then and now. Some months after the attacks, your blog came up when I searched "World War III," which was what things felt like to me. Glad to see what you started back then evolve into everything it is now.
 
Thank you very much for your memories Jeff. I like most of us was far away and safe on that day, but we were all filled with the horror of the situation, and a sense of disbelief that something like this had occurred in America. It is hard to think about 9/11 without deep emotions quickly coming to the surface. For a few short weeks afterwards we were tightly bound as a single people, as indicated by even little things like people politely slowing and waving to let you into traffic. We were forced to focus outside of ourselves and our little lives -- essentially to "grow up" and see things through the eyes of those around us. Hopefully we will never face such a day again.
 
Thank you for sharing. It means a lot. I'm glad you're here and that you made it home to your family.
 
I was 2 or 3 when it happened so I dont know where I was at the time but I wish I was able to comprehend what was going on. Thanks Jef
 
I was sitting in my room in Germany, back at my parents' house, reading some stupid book. Then the radio interrupted the song, reporting that an airplane had hitten the WTC. I didn't even realize the impact at first... I visited NYC years later, and I still found mugs and lighters with the old silhouette. Thanks for sharing your story.
 
You captured the moment, particularly in describing the physical feeling of all the impact of the WTC and the dust an dark. That morning I had walked my dogs in Waterfront Park in Boston, Thinking back, I had to have seen those two Boston planes take off from Logan, which is quite visible across the harbor from the park. Being in Boston, I know scores of people, once removed, who perished on that day. Tragic and frightening.
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