Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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I Remember: NY1 Associate Producer LJ Spaet Recalls 9/11 Attacks

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As part of NY1's coverage of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, NY1 Associate Producer LJ Spaet discusses his memories of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

I was in Westchester on September 11th. Until that day the only significant time I spent out of the city was at summer camp, but the 11th was my fourth day at a new school in White Plains.

Our head of school called us into the auditorium to tell us a plane had crashed into the Trade Center. It was 10:20 a.m. The last update he had was from almost an hour before... little did he or any of us know by then two other planes had crashed elsewhere and the twin towers were reduce to rubble.

Two hours later I was walking around the building during lunch, still thinking the FDNY would take care of business and put the fire out. Someone I barely knew, but who knew where I lived there, asked where I was staying that night. I asked why – he told me movement in and out of the city was on hold since the towers collapsed. I was flabbergasted. I double checked I heard him correctly, and ran for the nearest TV.

I saw a picture of Lower Manhattan, obscured in dust, and the scope of what happened quickly became apparent. I had been in the area of the Trade Center a few weeks earlier. This was easily the most surreal sight of my life.

I was lucky. I had a place to stay in the Bronx that night, and no one I knew personally was killed. But in a selfish way, I felt cheated.

I love the city. It's a part of me. And it was such a helpless feeling to not be here to do whatever I could to help. Not that there was much anyone could do... but even to help strangers on the streets, it's something I found myself wishing I could have done, as I lay through a mostly sleepless night in Van Cortlandt Park.

–LJ Spaet

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