Ten years ago today I flew into NYC to attend a meeting of the Amicus Committee of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA). The Amicus Committee, of which I was, and still am, a member, submits amicus curiae (“friends of the court”) briefs in important cases on appeal in New York State where the rights of injured people are likely to be greatly affected. I am proud to have been selected to be a member of the Amicus Committee, and to submit briefs to fight for the rights of New York personal injury victims.
But I never made it to that meeting 10 years ago. On the shuttle bus from JFK airport to the midtown tunnel, the guy sitting to my left cried out, “did you see that”?! We all looked. We saw fire and smoke spewing out of a gaping hole in one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The man informed us that a plane had just run into the tower. Someone commented, “what an idiot – how could that pilot have failed to see the towers on such a clear day”!
When we emerged from the midtown tunnel and got off the bus in Manhattan, everywhere people were talking about a second plane having struck the second tower. We were under attack. All of us headed to the nearest bar with a TV, and the rest, of course, is history.
The meeting place for my NYSTLA Amicus Committee conference was right next to the World Trade Center, so not only was our meeting canceled, the building that was to accommodate us was evacuated.
Here are my memories from the next 3 days, in stream-of-consciousness form: Fire trucks covered with white dust, but with “we love you!” and “you’re our heroes” written in the dust by some unseen hand, heading north, from the Towers, along the Avenues, carrying crest-fallen firemen; people lining the streets to applaud the crest-fallen firefighters as they returned in their dust-covered trucks to their stations as they clearly grieved lost brothers-in-arms; people placing flowers by the firehouses of fallen fire fighters; me walking down as far south as I could, to Canal Street, to the police blockade, and watching the white smoke from the towers slowing drifting towards Brooklyn across the incongruently blue, peaceful sky; trying to give blood at the nearest hospital, and being told that they were at full capacity and could take no more; watching more TV in bars, learning who had attacked us, and then feeling fear and unease (I am ashamed to say) whenever I saw someone who looked Muslim or North African; learning that all the tunnels and bridges in and out of Manhattan were closed, and realizing I was trapped in Manhattan for who-knows-how-long; then days of watching more TV from bars and restaurants, where people were friendlier, and kinder, than I had ever known people to be; finally boarding a train to carry me out of Manhattan, which was so stuffed with standing passengers that it reminded me of the trains I had seen in Nazi war movies carrying Jews to concentration camps; and finally arriving home and hugging, like I had never hugged them before, my wife and two small children.
Peace to all my readers on this 9/11/2011.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels & Smolak, P.C.