Witness to Tragedy
Scholastic News Edition 4 Editor Glenn Greenberg was on his way to work at Scholastic headquarters in New York City—not far from the World Trade Center site—on September 11, 2001. Greenberg wrote down some of his thoughts from that tragic day.
I will never forget this day for as long as I live. Today, I watched the worst kind of history happen, right before my eyes. Standing on the 11th floor of the Scholastic building, in the shadow of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, with my hands covering my mouth in awe and horror, I watched the second of those tall, proud skyscrapers collapse to the ground.
I was completely out of breath, gasping for air, when the tower went down. I had just run up eight flights of steps, to see first-hand what was happening just a short distance away. Up to that point, everything I had seen about the incident had come from the earliest television reports, and the damage to the first tower had not seemed so serious. But that was before I left for work. By the time I arrived at the Scholastic building, I had heard radio reports that the first tower had already collapsed. I refused to believe it. The twin towers are an important part of the New York City I know, the New York City that I grew up in. I see them every day when I head up to the Scholastic cafeteria on the 11th floor, which looks out upon the towers and lower Manhattan. It seemed impossible to me that they just wouldn’t be there anymore.
But just moments after I reached the cafeteria and stood outside on the balcony, I saw the broken, burning second tower belch out a final a cloud of smoke from its upper floors. The building then folded in upon itself and crumbled apart, setting off an ugly wave of gray smoke and dust that reached across the surrounding area like the stretching tentacles of some giant octopus. From where I stood, I could not hear any sort of explosion, nor was there a blast or rumble of any kind. It was like watching a silent movie, only it was all too real. When I finally looked away, I saw some of my co-workers staring ahead with shock, disbelief, and tears in their eyes.
It is now several hours later as I write this, and the smoke and dust are still rising from the wreckage.