I woke up after a restless night. An impending Court appearance always made me a light sleeper the night before as I was paranoid of oversleeping and being late. I stepped out of the shower just as the news reports came over the radio of a plane hitting the WTC. I walked to the the den and was watching a news channel when the second plane hit. My life was not the same for a few years after. Disbelief turned to anger to sadness to depression. My job disatisfaction, which had been fomenting already, turned to loathing as I suited up every morning and went to a job for which I had no love or even like. I contacted recruiters and was about to join the military and try to be a JAG but my general malaise kept me from doing much other than trudging back and forth to work and moping. I was saved by an ad on the career newsletter that led me to opening my own practice and allowing me to choose my path.
I still get sad when I read the remembrances. I avoid the televised commemorations but watch the shows on the mechanics of the day so I can refute the conspiracy nuts whose denial of the sacrifice and heroism of everyday citizens on that day enrage me. It is the same rage I feel when I see our elected and appointed officials using the event as a political tool or as a means of effecting measures that do nothing but diminish our liberty. Most of all though, I remember waking up that day full of resignation, heading to a Court appearance I knew was fruitless. That day prompted a change in my life at a terrible price for our nation. I would rather still be working that crappy job if we could go back to September 10, 2001.
Rebecca Liss, Slate
Only 12 survivors were pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center after the towers fell on Sept. 11, despite intense rescue efforts. Two of the last three to be located and saved were Port Authority police officers. They were not discovered by a heroic firefighter, or a rescue worker, or a cop. They were discovered by Dave Karnes.
Karnes hadn't been near the World Trade Center. He wasn't even in New York when the planes hit the towers. He was in Wilton, Conn., working in his job as a senior accountant with Deloitte Touche. When the second plane hit, Karnes told his colleagues, "We're at war." He had spent 23 years in the Marine Corps infantry and felt it was his duty to help. Karnes told his boss he might not see him for a while.
Then he went to get a haircut.
. . .
His plan worked. With the top off, the cops could see his pressed fatigues, his neatly cropped hair, and his gear up front. They waved him past the barricades. He arrived at the site—"the pile"—at about 5:30. Building 7 of the World Trade Center, a 47-story office structure adjacent to the fallen twin towers, had just dramatically collapsed. Rescue workers had been ordered off the pile—it was too unsafe to let them continue. Flames were bursting from a number of buildings, and the whole site was considered unstable. Standing on the edge of the burning pile, Karnes spotted … another Marine dressed in camouflage. His name was Sgt. Thomas. Karnes never learned his first name, and he's never come forward in the time since.
Together Karnes and Thomas walked around the pile looking for a point of entry farther from the burning buildings. They also wanted to move away from officials trying to keep rescue workers off the pile. Thick, black smoke blanketed the site. The two Marines couldn't see where to enter. But then "the smoke just opened up." The sun was setting and through the opening Karnes, for the first time, saw clearly the massive destruction. "I just said 'Oh, my God, it's totally gone.' " With the sudden parting of the smoke, Karnes and Thomas entered the pile. "We just disappeared into the smoke—and we ran."