Changed by 9/11: Michael Janin

Long Beach resident recalls being in the midst of the terrorist attacks.

On September 11, 2001, I was at a meeting in the fifteenth story of an office building four blocks from the World Trade Center. During the meeting I glanced out the window and I thought I saw garbage blowing in the air. 

The TV in the meeting was turned on, and I went to another room to call my wife, and I saw the second plane hit the other tower. I went to my car in the basement, drove away and immediately got stuck in a major traffic jam on Water Street. I turned on the radio and heard a reporter scream, “Oh my God, its going down!” I looked to my left and saw the first building collapse. It was surreal and I panicked.

Amazingly, a cop appeared and actually untangled the traffic jam. I drove out of the intersection, headed for the Brooklyn Bridge and was one of the only cars to go over it. I picked up another person and people walked and ran alongside of us on the bridge. I stopped at the top of the bridge, got out and looked at the burning building. I was numb looking directly at something I could not process. As I watched, the second tower fell. I got back in my car, noticed the person I picked up had disappeared and I drove to Great Neck, where I lived then.  It took me more than three hours to go through Brooklyn and Queens.

That day, I lost a second cousin. For five years after that day, I never went even near that area.

Ten years later, I still remember that day very well. I don’t think it substantially changed in my politics or my personality. I moved to Long Beach in April 2002. I have buried the part I don't want to remember and that is where I want it to be. On Sept. 11, I will not watch TV, nor will I participate in anything related to 9/11. It is enough for me to remember, but I just don’t want to relive that day. I have moved on and I’m OK.


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