A Day Unlike Any Other (Give Thanks, And Never Forget)

November 26, 2009 — 1,485 views  
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It was a beautiful day on Wall Street, the sun was shining, not a cloud in the deep blue sky. My day started just like every other day; wake up at 6am, catch the train into the city, in the office by 8am where I would have my list of stocks for the day on my desk in front of me. I walked into the office every day ready for battle, only this day I could have never imagined the inconceivable event that was about to present itself.

As we all manned our trade stations and prepared for another day, the admin staff answered calls, the interns looked to impress the traders, the veterans got their coffee, the office was nearly full and the day was beginning like any other. Only this would be a day we would remember for the rest of our lives. As I sat at my desk, finger on the trigger ready to fire off trades, all of a sudden we felt our building shake. We did not think anything of it because there was construction on the floor above us and we were accustom to the banging and shaking, we continued our business. Than the phone began ringing continuously from people asking if we were ok, we still did not know what happened. Shortly after the phones went haywire, the news started to spread throughout the office -- it sounded like a rumor, it couldn't be true. Groups of us began to run to the front of our office which was located on Broadway in lower Manhattan across from the World Trade Center to look out the windows in total and utter disbelief. When I looked out of the window it reminded me of a ticker tape parade with all the paper and debris flying around in the sky, only this time it was not a parade, it would be the most inconceivable event I could have ever imagined.

Franticly I ran down to the street with a group of traders to see what was happening. When I got outside, I looked up and saw the damage. Smoke and debris filled the sky I could not believe this had happened. We stood outside for a while in shock with thousands of other people not knowing what to do. What happened next will be etched in my mind forever. As I was walking back towards my office building I heard an extremely loud roaring sound. Just as I looked up I saw the second plane hit the other World Trade Center building. It was almost like I was in a dream, it all happened in what felt like slow motion - I could not believe what I just saw. After the second plane hit, panic mode set in, confusion, disbelief, it was a frantic moment which would only escalate in fear and emotion. Myself along with a few of the people I worked with decided to go back up to our office thinking we would be safe from the smoke and flying debris. When we got back to the office the phones were ringing like crazy, people were running around not really knowing what to do. Then all of the sudden our building started to shake; only this time we knew it wasn't the construction, we didn't know what the cause was.

In mass confusion and fear of what seemed like an all out war with us lay in the center of the front lines, we all panicked. Not knowing what to do we jumped under desks hoping that the building would stop shaking. At the time we assumed it was another plane coming in to hit another building, it was the scariest moment of my life. All I was thinking was that I would never see my new born son or wife again. Then all of the sudden the shaking stopped, we all got out from under the desks and realized that the building had no power. We grouped together and started to walk down the stairs which by this time were filled with dust and smoke. Luckily we were on the 5th floor so we got out pretty quick. When we got to the street it was a warzone, the dust was so thick you could not see a foot in front of you, people running and screaming all over the place, alarms and sirens were blaring. It was not till a little while later that we realized exactly what had happened. The loud roar we heard and our shaking building was caused by the first tower collapsing.

Still confused and engulfed with fear, we did not know what to do. We all stayed together and decided to head down to the South Street Seaport which was the furthest point away from the World Trade Center. As we were starting to head away from our office another tremendous roar came over; in this moment fear gave way to chaos as the dust blinded everyone on the street. Everything started shaking, the dust was still so thick that it was hard to see anything. It was a fearful moment as there was nothing to be done aside wait for the ominous rumble to pass, and hope to be alive in its wake. We all thought it was another plane coming in on attack but the dust would not allow us to see anything, people were running all over trying to find a safe place but there were none. The roar got louder and louder and everything was still shaking, it seemed to last forever. I was never in an earthquake but I assumed the intense shaking and rumble is how it would feel. Then all of the sudden the shaking stopped and the horrifying roar was gone. It was a very surreal moment, even though alarms and sirens were blazing on every corner, an eerie calm came over and it felt almost quite. We regrouped and headed towards the Seaport, when we finally got there the look of complete disbelief was on everyone's face. We soon realized the additional roar and shaking we felt was that of the second building collapsing.

We had no way of communicating with our families, cell phones did not work, any pay phones that were still around either did not work or had lines of people hundreds deep waiting to use them. One of the guys I worked with had an apartment on 14th street which we eventually made our way to. We finally got to see what was happening and occurred right around us when we turned on the T.V. There was no way to leave the city aside from walking the bridge to Brooklyn. Later on that night trains started running again and I was able to get out of the city and make it home safely to my family. I feel truly blessed to have made it home that night to see my son and wife. I lost a many friends in the tragedy and cannot even fathom what those victims and families went through. Over the next couple of months we had to relocate our office out of state. Our building on Wall Street was closed due to all the damaging dust and debris that had sweep through the building. It was a minor inconvenience having to travel out of state for a few months to work. Thankfully, after one of the most horrific experiences I could have ever imagined, I was alive and well and able to go on with my life. I would like to dedicate this article to all the brave men and woman who could not go home that day.

Lou Cardinali