The air was cool and pleasant on the morning of 9-11-2001. It was a nice change from the controlled air of the airline cabin I had just spent the last fourteen hours flying.
That morning I arrived in Sydney Australia returning to work as Group PD of The Australian Radio Network after attending company meetings in Atlanta.
Little did we know how the world would change in just a few hours.
Sydney is a day ahead of the US. So my arrival was hours ahead of the events that would unfold in lower Manhattan that day.
I went to bed early that night in attempt to get my body back on ‘Sydney’ time.
The phone rang around 11pm. It rang, and rang then stopped. It started again. In my stupor I finally went into the living room to answer it.
My wife Ann was calling from our home in Texas. Her first words were “turn on the television”.
I really didn’t comprehend what was happening at first. But as we talked the second plane crashed into the Trade Center tower. It was all so surreal.
As kids in New Jersey we watched as those towers climbed into the sky. There was a spot on Route 10 near Morris Plains where you could see them just above the tree tops, maybe twenty miles away or so.
We felt the magnitude of the event even being on the other side of the world. But for me it was probably different than those that were in the US.
I am still struck by the number of people that knew someone working at the Trade Center. My assistant was from the UK. Her aunt worked at the Trade Center. We waited all day and into the next before getting word of her safety.
Amazingly she had left her office to smoke a cigarette outside one of the buildings just before the first plane hit. She ran down the street to get away and eventually took a very long route home before her family knew she was ok.
We had dozens of stories like that from local Sydney residents looking for friends. This was after all the WORLD Trade Center. People were connected to it from all over the world.
People were nicer than usual, and they’re pretty nice in Australia. That incident showed us all that we are one.
The strangest feeling though came in the next few days, when travel into the United States was prohibited. There was as a strong realization just how important home really is to you.
New York is my home. I grew up in the metro area. But somehow I still feel a little disconnected from the event. I was not in the country, and didn’t experience it like those that were here.
I don’t know if I’m happy about that or not.