Witnessing

by

10/02/2001

2 liberty st, ny, ny 10281

Neighborhood: World Trade Center

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I was working at my job in the World Financial Center, just across the street from the two seemingly constant World Trade Towers when the first plane hit. Feeling and hearing the force of the impact, my co-workers and I initially thought the first plane was a freakish accident as we ran to and from the huge conference room window that faced the two towers, to the kitchenette and TV news and then back to the window again; fear, speculation, and rational explanations were flying.

But then, incredulously, while looking out window at the damage and carnage the first plane had inflicted, I saw the second plane abruptly come into my right field of vision and deliberately, with shimmering intention, thunder full-force into the South Tower. It was so close, so low, so huge and fast, so intent on its target that I swear to you, I swear to you, I felt the vengeance and rage emanating from the plane. I swear I did.

Through that huge window and the space of the street between us, in those short seconds, its insanity seared me. It was completely overwhelming. I remember a tremendous, boiling, exploding ball of fire. I saw people jumping, falling, burning. My mouth agape, I looked and saw it all through wide, weeping eyes.

A co-worker said, Don’t look, how can anyone watch this? But I ask, how could you not? How could you not watch these poor kinsmen, who unknowingly woke up damned that clear, beautiful yesterday morning, just hours away from a direction that no one could imagine, faced with an impossible final decision/fate: stay and burn…or…jump and fly?

Fly through a scorched sky engulfed in flames and smoke, debris and bodies…into a clear and cool, inviting blue sky with papers, papers languidly floating everywhere, the sky a macabre ticker tape parade.

They deserved to be witnessed in their decision, their fate, in their final moment. They deserved to be witnessed in how they died, and to not be alone in that harsh, reeling, astonishing death.

We should all have witnessed them. We should all have stood at attention with not just one hand raised in a final, resigned salute, but with both of our hands at our throats, over our mouths, tearing our garments, making our own noises with their fall while we watched, and seen them, seen them, every last one of them.

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§ 2 Responses to “Witnessing”

  • Just read this yesterday & found it to be so well written & powerful, I’m surprised no one else rated it & I give it 5 stars!

  • Amy Barnard says:

    I read Debra’s essay in the anthology “Blooming Through The Ashes” and was moved to tears. I was also in the city that day and had the same feelings and reactions that she so poignantly and beautifully expressed. I searched to find more writings by Debra and only found one more on this same site but would love to read anything else she may have written. Does anyone know of anything?

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