We were traveling on the Acela train from Washington, DC to New York City to visit for a few days. 

A young man and his mother were seated across the aisle where they could look towards the city. At one point it was possible for the four of us to see the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center glistening in the distance.

On arriving at Penn Station, we went to our hotel on 48th street, midtown Manhattan.

Having grown up in New York during the Second World War, I was intimately familiar with the city and all the events that had taken place during the war years. The mental images of New York City during the war had always stayed with me.

On Tuesday morning, I witnessed the events of 911 on TV as did millions of other Americans.

WTC 911 from space. Photo by NASA

By late morning, Manhattan had been closed-off from the rest of the country so no one could arrive or leave except by walking across one of the bridges.

Standing on Park Avenue, we watched as hundreds, if not thousands of people streamed north, away from lower Manhattan. 

It wasn’t until later in the week that we were able to leave for home, taking the Acela back to Washington, DC. By then we knew of the attacks on the Pentagon, a few miles from where we lived, and the plane that had crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The new image, as we looked back from the Acela that has stayed with me ever since, has been that of a grayish-white cloud, drifting Southward away from lower Manhattan, where the Twin Towers had once stood, which was in stark contrast to the Twin Towers glistening in the sunlight as we approached the city only a few days earlier. 

Every American, alive at the time, remembers where they were on that Tuesday. Those who were not yet born should be reminded of the tragic events so that, as a nation, we never forget.

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