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I Interviewed my Dad About His 9/11 Experience

It is Sunday.

I start my day as usual, taking a shower, making breakfast, and riding the subway to my location of choice – today it is E 42nd St, where I am supposed to meet a classmate for a school project. I head home and take a walk with my suitemate. We begin to discuss our schedules for next week – upcoming assignments, lunch dates, concerts.

It isn’t until then when I remember today’s date.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11, one of the most lethal terrorist attacks in the United States. According to Sky News, approximately, 2,973 people perished when two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center’s twin towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.

The devised attacks by the terrorist group, al-Qaeda, immeasurably changed the world’s approach to air-travel and created a 20-year “War on Terror.”

Many will still ask you today: where were you on 9/11?

I, myself, cannot answer the question: I was only ten days old.

So, I decided to ask my father, Pat Lamorgese, a proud New Yorker and witness to the attacks, about the events that unfolded that day.

Here is what went down:

Me: Today is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. How does that make you feel?

Dad: I mean, I still don’t believe what happened. And I’m remorseful for what happened. I mean, I was touched by it directly. I understand it and still remember it. I just hope everybody does, and I don’t know if everyone does.

Me: Can you explain how you were impacted by the terrorist attacks on that day?

Dad: It was a Tuesday morning, as beautiful a day as it is today, maybe a little warmer. It was the first day back in the office where I worked in lower Manhattan, across the street from the Trade Center at 100 Liberty – which is the Brook’s Brother building. And my daughter had just been born. It was my first day back in the office and I was seated with three collogues, showing photos [of me.] And we heard something happen – the building shook, we didn’t know what happened. My immediate reaction when I kind of got out of there was, with your recent birth, “My goodness, what did I bring this little child into?”

Me: When you say that the attack impacted you, can you say specifically in what ways?

Dad: I don’t feel comfortable in that area downtown. I always have my guard up now – anytime I travel, anywhere I go. I always make sure that I think that I’m protecting myself and minimizing my exposure as far as anyone potentially hurting me or my family.

Me: As a native New Yorker, what changes did you notice in the city after the attacks?

Dad: Silence. Fear. Trepidation. Some of which, I experienced. Some of which I fought against. For instance, we had a business trip that was scheduled to Boston soon after the attacks, and two of my colleagues were not comfortable flying and pulled out. And I was very much on the side of pulling out. And I spoke to my colleague who was in the middle of 9/11 with me and told him about my concern about flying and he said to me, “If we don’t go, they’ve won.” And I immediately changed my mind and flew. But I remember there was very much an unrest, and a silence, and a lot of the businesses were kind of hesitant to go back to full staffing in the city. It was very scary. It was a very different time.

Me: During the day of the attacks, when did it hit you and you realized you were under attack?

Dad: It took quite a while. The first plane hit, and we didn’t have an office that had a direct view of the tower. So, we walked up the hallway and went to an office that did and the hole didn’t look that large. And seeing the size of the hole – it was very deceptive, we thought that sounded accurate. Then, when the second plane hit, my colleague, Lawrence’s wife called right before we lost phone transmission and said, “We’re under attack. Get out of there.” And when we went outside, I remember seeing people, like, sitting on the curb, crying. And I really didn’t understand what was going on just yet. And we started moving uptown, you know, trying to make our way to safety and I think I hadn’t realized exactly what had gone on until we ran by one of the street corners where there was a radio playing and I heard that there was a plane that had hit the Pentagon and the other plane that was brought down in Pennsylvania, and that’s kind of when we realized that we were under attack.

Me: Is there anything else that you want to add?

Dad: Learn our history. Learn history in general. Try to learn from history because history does repeat. I guess that’s my message, Tara. 

You can do your part and learn more about the history of 9/11 by visiting websites like History.com and Britannica.com.

Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum at 180 Greenwich St.

Tara is a Sophomore at The Eugene Lang College studying Journalism + Design. She enjoys writing about current events, activism, and her friends. When she isn't writing, you can find her singing or catching up with friends in Washington Square Park.
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