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Impossible to Forget: 9/11 Touched Us All

911hr

It started as a regular September morning in Santo Domingo as I was driving to El Caribe newspaper. As a sports reporter, my usual day started in the afternoon. However, for some reason I can’t remember, I arrived at the paper at 8:15 a.m. I was like a fish out of water, hanging with the morning crew, but still I managed to get coffee and was having a conversation with a fellow reporter. What happened next, I will never forget.

The newsroom was an open space with 50+ desks and a TV for each section of the paper. On a regular afternoon, each department would have their TV on with some relevant show: entertainment, culture, sports, etc. Each team then discussed the happenings within their field, some with civil yet passionate interactions. I was a sports reporter at the time, and for us in sports, most of the time, passion easily turns into loud arguments about baseball players.

On this Tuesday though, things were starting slowly. Not a single TV was on when I arrived, and there was not much to be discussed at that point. We had an international newsroom — some reporters were from Spain, Argentina, and Peru, our photo editor was from Chile, and the new intern was from Uruguay. At this time, still not many foreigners lived in Santo Domingo, so this was especially diverse at the newspaper.

At 8:30, Mabel, the editor from the culture section, turned on the TV. She was watching entertainment-related news, and no one was really paying attention to her or to what she was watching. A few minutes later, she said something really loud; I can’t remember her words exactly. What I can vividly replay in my head is how everyone that was there — about 20 of us — just stood there in front of the TV.

Each one of us had someone in mind; at that point this was happening to all of us. It didn’t matter where we were born — none of us were Americans, and yet each person felt the fear and powerlessness that something terrible was probably happening to a loved one: a friend, a cousin, an aunt, a father, a sibling.

As many of you know, Dominicans are one of the largest ethnic groups in New York City. I will never forget how my mind was going really fast thinking about so many people I knew that could possibly be there. At that moment, I understood what terror means. The Spanish journalists were unfortunately more aware and somewhat used to acts of terror. Still, I could see the fear on their faces.

The events of September 11th happened three years before I moved to New York. It wasn’t even on my plans at the time. I didn’t know then that NYC would eventually become my home, the place where my two children would be born and where my husband and I would create so many memories. I didn’t know I’d become a New Yorker one day, yet the events of 9/11 shook me. I believe this to be true for most of the world.

With New York being such a melting pot and for the logical, human reasons, I feel we were all touched by the tragedy, even when did not know each other then. That’s why five friends were kind enough to share their 9/11 story. I met each one of them years after that tragic day, but when I read their experiences, I felt them as mine.

I will never forget. No one will ever forget.

 

  • Innocence Lost 1 of 5
    Flag of Honor

    Helena Ozorio was in Miami:

    "I was, as most days, running late. The DJ on the radio was saying something about an airplane hitting the Twin Towers but he was in disbelief. The radio had a reporter from NY on the phone as the second tower hit. The man was panicking, crying, screaming. The DJ didn't know what to say. I was in shock and unable to visualize it. When I got into the office, everyone was around the television — it was hard to watch, to think and feeling completely took over. That day our outlook on the world changed and a part of our innocence was lost."

  • A Sense of Loss 2 of 5
    NYC- 100 Church

    Lisa Quinones was in New York:

    "I will never forget hearing the accounts of people who were there. Seeing the panic, horror, grief and disbelief; or the pleas from family members and friends looking for their loved ones. Hoping against hope that they were still alive — somewhere. I couldn't sleep that night, or for many nights after. I feel fortunate that I lost no loved ones that day. But I cried for all those that did. And I cried for my own sense of loss."

  • A Witness of Courage 3 of 5
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Sisy McDowell was in Pennsylvania:

    "I just had moved to the US a couple of months before the morning of September 11th. I had taken the day off from work; I couldn't believe my eyes as I watched what I thought was an accident on TV, and then the second plain crash into the other tower. That's when I realized it was for real. I can't explain my feelings, and it's still very painful. I was scared, my heart was aching, and I was worried for my friend, who was at that moment flying from Perú to NYC. That day I witnessed with my own eyes the pain of a whole country, the unity to face that pain, and the courage to continue on."

  • 9.11.01 4 of 5
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Andy Checo was in New York:

     "9.11.01 I was trapped on the 18th floor of a building next to the New York Stock Exchange, a week into my first job. Did not get to see anything but the aftermath while walking for miles on the FDR drive and looking at the war scene behind. It was not until I got home a few hours later that I got to see the people jumping off the buildings on the TV and the towers coming down. Can't imagine the horror. RIP Pedro Francisco Checo."

  • Speechless 5 of 5
    911hr

     Alcides Aguasvivas was in New York:

    "I remember getting out of my morning class at WPU and walking into the cafeteria and everyone staring at the 20' x 20' TV screen. Everyone was in shock to a see plane hitting one of the towers. If that wasn't enough, seeing the second plane hit on live TV left everyone speechless. "TERRORISTS! TERRORISTS!" is all everyone was shouting. I don't think any of us there had ever experienced anything like this, like most people. No one knew what to do with themselves. I was an EMT at the time and ran out of school to try and get into town to catch a ride to NYC to go help. I remember the streets being so hectic. My 45-minute commute turned into 5hrs. I never made it out to go help but always wonder how my life would have changed seeing how some things ended up developing. I took this picture in Union City at a small park on 9th Street and Palisade Ave. 

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