Most mark the day itself, the date and hour the hijacked airplanes struck, consuming thousands of lives and reshaping both global and personal notions of safety with a definitive act of random death by irrational violence.
Few mark the day after, the limbo of raw emotion mixing with nascent understanding, when the images were harshly seared into the brain but comprehension and coping remained profoundly elusive.
Here are quotes from area natives and residents on Sept. 12, 2001.
Sam Angelo, Plains Township native,who worked on the 72nd floor of the second tower:
“The building is supposed to move but you don’t feel it,” Angelo, a bridge engineer, said of the the skyscraper’s subtle daily sway in the wind, comparing that to the jet’s impact. “It felt like it was going to fall down.”
They looked toward the windows, saw debris raining down and headed for the stairs, taking turns helping carry a woman who had trouble walking. The stairway began to fill with smoke; at the 44th floor, an open lobby allowed them to switch stairways … and to look outside to see that debris was flaming.
“These people went to work and were going about their business. To attack people without any affiliation … ,” Angelo said, pausing in thought. “I don’t know.”
Millie Warrent, Tobyhanna, who worked on the 14th floor of the first tower:
“All I could think about was staying alive. Seeing my kids and my grandson. I just had this feeling that if I stayed I would die.”
After getting out and running for safety, she turned to see a moment of hell.
“I looked back and actually saw people hanging from the building and jumping off. It was awful.”
Luis Vazquez, Tobyhanna,who worked in a building adjacent to the towers.
“It was like watching a movie. I saw people covered in blood running. And people carrying other people covered in blood. It was horrifying.
“When I got home last night I hugged my wife and I hugged my son, and I cried.”
Gloria Trocki, Wright Township, whose cousin Loretta Filipov lost her husband, Alexander, a passenger on one of the hijacked planes:
“My heart’s broken. When you’re with someone just last Saturday and then (he) is dead. … Here we were, hugging and kissing and everything.”
Bernie Walko, Edwardsville, whose son Robert was a chief master sergeant with the U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon:
“His office was right on the other side of the building. If it had been hit, it would have been completely wiped out,” Walko said, noting he waited 12 hours after the attack before hearing from Robert.
“From here on they’ll be recovering bodies. His job is to contact the next of kin. He’s not looking forward to that.”
Gary Wincz, Weatherly, who worked in a New Jersey rail yard when a co-worker called his attention to the first tower already in flames in the distance, in time to see the second plane approach:
“We said, ‘Holy crap, look at how low that thing is,’ ” Wincz said. “We saw it bank, straighten out and go into the building. The jet just disintegrated.”
On Sept. 12 Wincz saw a blank space and smoke where the towers should be.
“It’s sickening,” Wincz said. “You can’t help but look over.”