I was born in Brooklyn. For 37 years, I worked for a federal agency whose regional headquarters were located in the World Trade Center (WTC). In the spring of 1982, I was transferred to the Capital District and later retired there.
In September of 2001, my wife and I traveled to Brooklyn to visit and celebrate my birthday with my parents. On the 11th, I woke up and watched the “Today” show and heard a reporter say that a plane had crashed into one of the two skyscrapers. I shut the TV off for breakfast.
My sister-in-law worked for a Wall Street brokerage firm in the World Financial Center, across the street from the World Trade Center. She called from her office, that looks onto the WTC, and said to turn on the TV. We were transfixed watching the gigantic fire on the first tower.
Our initial reaction was, “Oh no! Not again!” My mother worked for the government gas rationing agency during World War II; the office was in the Empire State Building.
In 1945, a B-25 bomber, ferrying military officers, got lost and crashed into the building, 20 floors above my mother’s office. Almost everyone safely evacuated. A Catholic Charities office was on the same floor as the crash.
The aircraft’s crew and the people in that office were the only fatalities.
When we witnessed the second plane attacking Tower 2, we realized this was no accident, but a deliberate attack. My father, a WWII veteran, was beside himself as the two buildings collapsed.
The building’s security officer for my federal agency immediately sounded the alarm when the first plane hit. He remembered the 1993 bombing of the WTC. All agency employees were safely evacuated (I intermittently worked there, had many friends there and was worried about their safety). The building, 6 WTC, was demolished when the towers collapsed on it.
My sister-in-law witnessed the whole event from her office. When the towers collapsed, the World Financial Center evacuated to the rear, facing the Hudson River, where a flotilla of boats relocated the stranded people to the Jersey side of the Hudson.
New York City was on lockdown for a couple of days. When I returned to work, we were ordered to enhance security on the Canadian border.
-Joseph Slomka, Colonie
More Remembrances: We remember; The Daily Gazette’s special Sept. 11 anniversary section