National Day of Mourning. My story this morning!
   by Ray Berry

At a loss of what to do with myself at this moment as are millions of people here in NYC
and the nation. I want to share the last three hours with you from inside the Big Apple.
 

Twelve Noon, Tuesday, 11, 2001
 

My mother from SC called about at nine a.m. telling me about the planes hitting the World Trade Center. I
turned on the TV and all the channels were out!  I found one channel transmitting, CBS. ( The
transmitters for TV were on top of the World Trade Center )

I saw the horror. I immediately left the apartment to go VOTE in our mayoral race a block away in a school.
People were stunned! Not knowing what was happening. I actually voted quickly and went to 8th Avenue and 25th
Street, (Midtown) and gathered in a cluster of people in total shock as we looked up at the World Trade
Towers on Fire in clear view. The smoke was massive and billowing over all of downtown.  We could see the
towers on fire and a fireball billowing out the top of One World Trade.

I tell you- this group of about 100 people  on the corner were chain smoking and silent except for the
constant ringing of cell phones. People were staring in disbelief, holding their stomachs and wiping away
the tears. We didnít know what was going on.  The terror in peopleís eyes was something I will never
forget in this lifetime.  A Puerto Rican guy pulls up his truck and turns the radio on full blast for us to
get the news as we watched in disbelief.  No one really had any solid information at that point. We
couldnít believe what we were seeing.

Then the smoke got so huge we couldnít see the second tower.
Then the wind shifted and the tower was GONE!
IT was JUST GONE!

We all looked at each other in disbelief from what our own eyes were seeing. It just would not register
in my head. I like others was just shaking my head and rubbing my eyes thinking I was hallucinating
and it couldnít be happening as the radio in the truck confirmed our worse fears.

Rumors started spreading rapidly in the crowd from people on their cell phones. The Pentagon was attacked,
truck bombs, bridges and tunnels closed. We all stood on the corner not moving, not knowing what to do and
still just watching the single tower beginning to burn and billow huge orange fireballs from the top floors.
A little while later as we were watching, the second tower disappeared and all we could see was bright gray smoke.
The radio basted the second tower had collapsed.  After a few minutes we became quietly mobile and startled
people took off in ever direction. I was left on the corner trying to think about what to do.  I was shaking and
extremely upset as the sirens blared in all directions heading downtown.

Confused I walked into the grocery store, knowing the city was in for it for quite a while.
I had such a stomach ache I almost puked when I smelled the food in the deli.  There was only two customers
in the giant store.  One checker. I gathered some staples and started walking home past people scurrying
around on cell phones in ever direction.

When I got to the school, I saw the workers shutting down the voting for the day with dazed eyes.
No one was talking. Yet no one in the streets was panicking either.

I came home to a slew of phone messages of friends in shock. Long Distance is out, many of the transmitters
were on the World Trade Center. I turned on my TV to the last station transmitting, and have been sickened
ever since. Sirens are still going off in the distance like a cacophony of screams. It is a perfect sunny
cloudless day in Manhattan.  The Red Cross is begging for blood all over town on TV and New Yorkers are
lining up in droves in such a short amount of time.

The Bridges and Tunnels and Subways are closed.
People are orderly and walking everywhere.
The confusion is rampant.
Offices are closing in midtown with millions from the suburbs who canít get out of town.
Every important building in this city has been evacuated.

Tens of thousands of people are walking, walking, walking in every direction.

The city of Manhattan right now is an island jail unto itself, you canít get on you canít get off.
I am getting very little news about the rest of the nation on my ONLY station left on the actual airways.
Our mayor is speaking on TV now on his cell phone. His voice is shaking, as is the rest of the city.
We have no clue how many people are dead, or what is going to happen now.
Chaos abounds on TV.
Some are saying on TV there ďmay beĒ biological agents like anthrax involved in the explosions.
They just donít know at this time. Asbestos is flying all over the city from the wind.
There may be fifty thousand dead they are suggesting.........

More tomorrow.

I am still in emotional shock at this moment............

I am shaken for our way of life in this great nation
and the greatest city in the world. But I am okay....
 

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