On 9/11, we lived half a mile north of the Twin Towers. Claire and a friend from Italy were having coffee when the first plane flew overhead.
"That plan is flying awfully low," Claire said. Seconds later, they heard the "thwump" of impact. I was at our office, watching the news on TV as we waited for a meeting to begin. We saw the second plane appear, and an instant later, it crashed into the second tower. My partner Mike, quoting someone I cannot recall, said: "Gentlemen, we are at war." Fifteen minutes later, I was walking the four miles to my home. About halfway there, I started seeing people heading north, covered with ash, looking shell shocked and desperate. They didn't want help, they just wanted to keep moving.
I stopped at a grocery store. It was packed. But looking at the carts, no one could decide what they wanted in the face of this crisis.
At home, I baked an apple pie. The phone rang all day long with friends wanting to know if we were all right. We were.
After dark, I walked along Canal Street, the northern edge of the protected zone. American flags were up for sale everywhere, and no one had any idea where they came from. In a vacant lot at the corner of Sixth Avenue, I saw a young woman surrounded by dozens of candles. She said, "If I can just keep some of them going until sunrise, maybe things will be OK.
Jim MacGregor '66