I can’t find the words

Photo by E.T. Smith @ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Andy Horwitz had been sitting at his desk for a quarter of an hour when a loud bang shattered the morning calm. The time was 8:46 a.m., and the first of two planes had just been flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center that stood two blocks from his office. But soon they were gone. Less than two hours after the first collision, both skyscrapers had collapsed to the ground. Thousands were dead. The streets of Manhattan were filled with dazed and distraught people, the air thick with smoke and debris. A third airliner had hit the Pentagon; a fourth crashed in Pennsylvania. Andy’s diary is one of many written records that chronicle the unimaginable events of that dark day, capturing the collective horror and confusion that gripped not just the United States but the wider world.

The Diary Entry

tuesday, september 11

09:02:17 AM

oh my god! I’m NOT kidding!!!!

A plane just ran into the World Trade Center!!!

I was just turning on my computer at work in the Woolworth building when we heard this enormous explosion. No-one could tell what it was. Someone looked out the window and saw a gaping hole in the side of the WTC with black smoke billowing out. There may have been jumpers trying to get out of the fires. There’s flames, smoke, the air is filled with debris: office stuff, papers, wall stuff …. We thought it was a bomb. But the TV says it was a plane. Maybe a 737.

Oh, My God !!! THERE’s PEOPLE!!! people jumping out to escape the flames and falling hundred and hundreds of feet!!!!!! This is unbearable!!! shocking. terrifying….

10:48:50 AM

I am at paul’s house now. I walked all the way back from downtwon. I don’t know how I can type this. it was absolutely indescribable. I was watching, we were watching the first WTC building, watching the people fall and the flames burn when I saw a plane, a passenger size plane, come out of the sky, arc around and crash DIRECTLY into the other tower!! It left a huge hole and smoke and flames. People in the office were shouting and crying. Someone yelled GET OUT and we all walked the stairs down to the ground. The streeets were crazy. People wandering around, dazed, crying, freaked out.

We gathered on Park Row on teh East side of City Hall towatch the towers. Peoplle were in shock. After a while of speculating and staring, we saw oone of the towers collapse heard the boom and a HUGE HUGE HUGE ball of smoke billowed out. People started running away. People were almost trampled as the the police tried to wrangle people out ofthe area. I walked and walked and everybody just kept walking. the streets are filled with dazd people. Its insane. Horrible. Unthinkable. Then as I was walking, finally I stopped and turned around on Mercer near the Angelika and we saw the other Tower go.

I don’t know what to say. I really dont. this is beyond description. beyond words.

03:42:31 PM

So, its later this afternoon. We’ve been watching the coverage all morning and afternoon. Phone calling friends. Touching base. Trying to make sure everyone’s okay, letting everyone know that I’m okay. Its been an exhausting, emotional day.

I think I’m still in shock.

I can’t get the pictures out of my mind: watching people leap to their deaths, choosing between being immolated alive or crushed by falling. I saw one woman, and I know it’s impossible, but I could have sworn I heard her scream. Its something you can’t imagine. I never thought I could imagine.

Everytime I see that footage of that plane hitting the second tower, I twitch.

The thing is that as we looked out the windows of the office, trying to comprehend how a plane could possibly run into the World Trade Center, we just thought it was a horrible, horrible accident. But watching that other plane come in defied belief. And then it just crashed right in. Fire. Smoke. Horror.

There really aren’t words.

I can’t find the words.

Not now.

Maybe later.

But not now.

Further Reading

Andy Horwitz published his diary online at the time, and he has kept that week’s entries on his website, here. Many thanks to Andy for kindly allowing me to feature the above entry.


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