Just to add my own personal point to STT757's words-
I was flying on the 11th, we set down early in the day, but due to the events and how the potential existed for me to actually know some of the victims (I unfortunately lost several friends and acquaintances), I notified Continental in the middle of the day of the 11th that I needed to get home ASAP due to personal reasons. After they had made arrangements for a reserve pilot to go on standby to finish the flight after operations resumed, I rented a car and drove all day back up to Jersey. I arrived after nightfall, about 10 hours driving behind me, listening to various news reports along the way and not knowing what to expect. I walked into my front hallway to see my wife and kids glued to the TV
set watching replays of the horror as it was unfolding while their father was out flying. They weren't certain I was OK
until 11 in the morning, when I got to a ground phone and got in touch with my wife. My two school-age children came home early, clearly shaken up but relieved to know my airplane wasn't one that had been targeted. Later that evening we learned that three people from my town, Betterly, Arcyzinski, and Smith, had gone missing. One, at least, we knew hadn't survived. The other two had not been heard from since prior to the collapse of the towers, but we knew they worked for Cantor Fitzgerald, and the outlook was grim to say the very least. As the night progressed we received more phone calls, finding that people from our country club, schools, and church were unaccounted for. It was a rough night.
I woke up before sunrise the next morning , and went up with my dog to a balcony facing east toward the ocean. It was a chilly 50 degrees or so at that hour, but it felt as if the crisp morning air was slowly unraveling all the anger that had wound up in me overnight. I sat there, doing some thinking, when I noticed the first light of morning breaking the black of the horizon. At first it was purple, but then a tinge of orange broke through, illuminating my entire field of vision. It was then that i saw the thick plume of smoke emanating from the spot where all this started, and believe me, it was a surreal sight, almost a tear jerker. Definitely a picture forever etched into my memory. I took a drive out to Atlantic Highlands later that morning, and joined the literally hundreds of people who packed the scenic overlook toward Manhattan and Ground Zero. It really hit home then, for there was just nothing but a cloud of dust to mark where those two huge towers had been. Every time I drove up to EWR
, they would catch my eye, drawing unfailing interest. They dominated the skyline, and truly were an awesome sight, classic New York. Their absence continues to haunt me, but I've moved on since, still never forgetting those people who had no idea what was coming to them on that day.