9/11 Stories

Matthew Zachary

My brother, who works on 3rd and 44th called me at home at 8:48am to tell me a plane hit the WTC. I immediately grabbed my binoculars and camera and ran up the stairs of my apartment building to the roof. As you can see from the pictures, we have a spectacular view of downtown from up there. After evaluating the situation, I ran downstairs to get my neighbor and close friend Curt to come up and join me on the roof with his camera.

It was on that roof in Hoboken that we watched everything unfold in slow motion. When the second plane hit, I was simply unable to continue taking pictures as I was uncontrollably transfixed on the images, now forever burned in the back of my retina, just one mile across the tranquil Hudson.

At no point in time did we even conceive of the possibility that the would collapse. I felt as if a piece of me was yanked from my living soul when those towers collapsed. The epitome of personal and social violation.

A native New Yorker, I have had the privilege of being born and raised in the shadows of the Twin Towers.

In addition to the dozens of times my parents took me to the observation desk with my baby brother, in the sultry summer of 1993, I had the unique opportunity to work for Dean Witter on the 67th floor of Tower 1 (this was after the first bombing attack). Working in that building was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Even though I hated that job, I loved my office and I loved the commute. It was also the best subsidized corporate cafeteria I’d ever seen.

The demise of the Twin Towers hits me on a previously unknown personal level. Watching from my rooftop in Hoboken, witnessing every inconceivably painful millisecond under perfectly blue skies, time seemed to slow down that dark morning.

Revisiting those feelings any more right now is not something I wish to expound more on. What I will say is that it came as close to killing my soul as the cancer I have since defeated.

Matthew Zachary