It's hard to describe the sound a building makes when it falls to the ground. It's even harder when the sound you're describing is for two of the tallest buildings in the world, structures that were seemingly indestructible only a week ago.
However, I was among the thousands of New Yorkers who witnessed the two towers of the World Trade Center collapse this week, one while I walked to work and the other from the sixth-floor window of DM News' office in lower Manhattan. My memory of this terrible event isn't filtered by television with running commentary from Dan Rather or Peter Jennings. Our office is less than a mile north of what the TV crews have termed “ground zero.” The moment was surreal. From my vantage points, there was a whooshing noise and a loud rumble. Each collapse lasted only a few seconds, far too short of time for such devastation.
Though I know this publication covers direct marketing, my mind can't seem to click into that mode as I hear the news reports and look at images of what can only be described as a war zone less than two miles from my home. Criticism of impending postal rate increases seems far less important at the moment. In a matter of minutes, the world was turned upside down for so many people.
Uni-Mail List Corp. was one of the companies forced to flee downtown Manhattan. President Michael Bryant told us just a few hours after the attack: “You get like 20 blocks north of this, it's like a beautiful September day again … and then you look behind you.”
His words echo in my head as I write this 30 hours after those horrendous moments. The wind has shifted, and a haze blankets the city. The acrid smell in the air is sickening. The streets remain eerily quiet except for a siren blaring by every few minutes. I survey the scene from the rooftop of my apartment building on 14th Street. All nonemergency traffic is blocked off from that point south. I look downtown, but the southern skyline is missing its most important landmark.
This country has experienced another day of infamy, but we will rebuild and become stronger because of this. But first we mourn.