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September 11, the day I remember

By       Message sameh abdelaziz     Permalink
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It is five years since that day!

I still remember every moment, word, move happened on that Tuesday morning. I do not consider myself the type of person that usually remembers details; my wife can prove this easily except for that day.

I was attending a management training class, the type of course where you attend as a sort of recognition in a big company, or because your boss likes you. If you learn something new in the process, it would be an added bonus. It was our second day of a full week. A five star hotel, plenty of food, and a curriculum covered with games that turn us the managers, into grayed hair kids. It was a wonderful time and there was no reason to suspect that it will be any different from the day before or the rest of the week.

8:46:40: Flight 11 crashes at roughly 490 mph (790 km/h or 425 knots) into the north side of the north tower. Our company handles all information technology functions for three major airlines. One of our management team gets a phone call then walks out of the classroom, when he came back he looked pale, he mentioned that a commercial airplane hit the world trade center. We ran out to the lobby, the TV was on, the news was just coming out, nobody expected it to be anything but bazaar accident. We hung there for a while glued to the TV screen.

The instructor followed by some of us started going back to the classroom; we were still talking about the crash. The manager responsible for the airport systems was still in the lobby talking on the phone.

9:03:13: Flight 175 crashes at about 590 mph (950 km/h) into the south side of the south tower banked between floors 78 and 84. By this time, several media organizations are covering the first plane crash; millions see the impact live.

One of our colleagues still standing by the TV runs in and delivers the news. We run back to the lobby, the picture of the airplane hitting the south tower broadcasted repeatedly. All the faces are twisted in disbelief; couple of the managers not far from where I stand started talking about the possibility of terrorism act. A third joined the discussion and mentioned Middle Eastern terrorist as a suspect. He said, "We will never understand how much they hate us".

I suddenly noticed that I am standing alone, may be couple of eyes fell on me and then turned away fast as I intercepted them. The eyes belong to two of my colleagues. Deep down inside I wanted to believe that they did not mean to look at me. I look Middle Eastern as they come, dark hair, tanned complexion, and Muslim, but I am one of them!

At 9:20, CNN refers for the first time to a foul play, 'AP: FBI investigating report of plane hijacking'. The circle discussing the Middle Eastern hatred becomes even larger, trying to talk in a very low voice. I could not understand if the low voice meant for me not to hear, or out of respect to my feelings.

By 9:25, the first so-called terrorism expert was on TV talking about Muslim vendetta against the west and the possibility that the two crashes linked to a Muslim organization. Standing alone felt very awkward, I moved into the ring. I said, "Assuming it was hijacked, what type of American pilot would do something like this?"

My voice was shaky and I think everybody around felt it. There was silence for few seconds before one of them said you are probably right. The manager who started the conversation about the Middle East smiled to me, I always liked that person probably he did not mean anything, I smiled back.

At 9:30, we asked the instructor to cancel the class, some of us specially the ones responsible for Airport systems had to go back to work. I work on the reservation side.

I tried calling my wife several times; she was going to the hospital that day for a checkup. There was no response, left voice message.

I left the building; I was the first to leave. I drove very fast to the middle school where my older daughter is. I wanted to know if it might be better to take her home.

The woman standing in the administration office was so professional. She told me that they informed the kids about the crash but did not provide any speculation. She suggested not taking her out of class. I asked directly if she thinks that other kids might do anything that would hurt her feelings. She assured me; I thanked her and ran to my car.

On the way to the elementary school where my second daughter goes, I heard the news about the south tower collapse. I felt scared. I still remember the attacks on Denver's mosque after Oklahoma bombing. I was living there at that time.

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I am an Egyptian American born in Alexandria. I immigrated to the US in the late eighties, during this time lived in many places in US and Europe. I work as an IT manager and love it. I love to travel, it makes me feel young, and it awakes in me (more...)
 

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