Thanks to all who shared their experiences from that difficult day.
I was working the Police Marine Unit when over the VHF emergency channel a boater reported the World Trade Center was on fire. Shortly after the TV news reported a plane struck the tower. I remember thinking “it can’t be an accident” Not with the weather so clear. It became real when the US Coast Guard issue an emergency broadcast for “Any boats’, we need help evacuating Manhattan” We went, officers and paramedics, loading our small police boat with medical supplies. We called our families to say we love them, and were not sure when we would be back. We traveled down the East River, and saw thousands and thousands of people crossing all the bridges leaving the city. I remember the quiet, the calm and the vacant look on the faces. All along the Sea Walls ferry and tug boats were pulling up and people were climbing over the fences and rails to jump onto the open boat decks. As soon as the boat was filled, it turned and made the short crossing to the other side where it would empty, turn around, and do it all over again It was the start of a long day an many memories I will never forget. Days later I remember driving on I-95, it was dark, and traffic was slowing, I was thinking it’s past rush hour, it must be an accident. I was wrong, it was thousands of people holding candlelight vigils along every highway over pass, many waving American Flags. I felt hope and pride that day. Today, 12 years later, I was in the Police Station when a lone woman walked in carrying a bouquet of yellow roses. She came to the window and said “these are for all of you”, she looked sad but determined. I left the secure area and walked out to say thank you. She said, “I just wanted to say thank you for all you do. With a tear in her eye she told me a brief story. We talked for a minute, we hugged and she went on her way. I did not get her name, I did not ask. But this woman’s one simple act of kindness will stay with me always.