Not In Jersey: September 11th September 11th - Not In Jersey

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 11th

A few weeks ago, Dave and I had the opportunity to hear Avi Schonbrun speak at a local event. His name may not be one you recognize, but his story is pretty amazing. Schonbrun was one of only four out of 662 Cantor Fitzgerald employees who were present in the World Trade Center on September 11th who survived. He was actually the only one out of the 662 who escaped absolutely unharmed – the other three survivors were badly burned. Schonbrun described to us his escape from the building with a co-worker who had been burned by a ball of fire in the elevator shaft which occurred when the first plane hit the tower they were in. Together they made their way down 78 flights of stairs and out of the building, each depending on the other for support.

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Schonbrun went into detail about all the little things that occurred that actually saved him that day. First and foremost, he was late to work because his son needed help with placing a book order. His son forgot to bring home his book order on Friday after school, and instead brought it home on Monday. Since they hadn’t worked on the order on Monday night, they had to complete it Tuesday morning. Because of this, Schonbrun was on the 78th floor, rather than at the very top, when the plane hit the building. He feels that God was looking out for him that day. And I wonder – was God looking out for the 1000s of people who died that day?

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Listening to Schonbrun brought me right back to that day. He described the weather – it was beautiful outside, clear and sunny, not a cloud to be seen. He also mentioned the fact that Rosh Hashanah was exactly a week after September 11th that year. I clearly remember sitting at the table on Rosh Hashanah, still in shock from what had occurred just one week earlier. That day, and the days after, it seemed like the world had stopped. The bright blue sky echoed with silence. At the time, I lived in New Jersey and attended school in New York City. Did the world stand still in other parts of the country too? What was it like that day where you lived?

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51 comments:

Janine Huldie said...

I just got the chills reading this and being that I live on Long Island in NY, I remember that day vividly and you are right the weather was gorgeous and not a cloud in the sky. But I also remember being able to see smoke in the not too distant skies if I looked towards Manhattan that day. And god how I will never forget going to school int he morning and hearing about the first plane hitting on the radio. Sounds crazy, but I was listening to Z100 and thought they were goofing or something. By the time, I was in class and found out it was true, I just couldn't believe it. I actually had decided to go back to school a month earlier and had quit my job that wanted to relocate me right down by the Twin Towers. I would have had to get out of the Subway in the Twin Towers had I choose to stay with them. I even remembered seeing the picture of where the debris landed and it was literally right in front of the building I would have worked. I cried whenI saw that and just couldn't believe I could have totally been down there and may very well not have lived to tell the tale. Sorry for rambling, but this really just brought me and then some. Thanks for sharing Dara.

Leslie @ Violet Imperfection said...

I remember 9/11 vividly and it did feel like everything stopped and was in slow motion. I was in college as well and actually pretty close to the Portland airport the terrorists used to get to Boston. Later that day, my dorm building had smoke billowing out and the fire alarm went off and it was so scary. I remember they took us to the student relations building and we had no idea what happened....turned out it was a boiler problem but on that day we were all on edge.

Kera @ Nugget On A Budget said...

Seriously I feel sad and lots of memories come flooding back when I see pictures of the towers burning on that otherwise lovely day. So ironic. I will always remember that day ~ I was in accounting class in high school, 3rd period, and the teacher turned on the TV in our room. What we were seeing totally didn't register at first. It was like, where is this happening? Even though I was in Pennsylvania in school, NYC was only 2 1/2 hours away and so the reality of the attack seemed so close. There were a lot of kids I knew who had family living in the city. The rest of that day was just spent watching the news coverage in each of my classes.

Tamar SB said...

I've known others to hear him speak. I still remember that ay so well - yes, the sky was SO blue and clear. Being so close to NY I remember hearing fighter jets all afternoon.

My sister had been on a plane and landed (safely, thank Gd) minutes before it all unfolded.

There is a family at my mom's shul, he's friends with my uncle and he was badly burned on 9/11 - he looks amazing now, but it's such a reminder...

Can't believe it's been so long...

Breenah A said...

I was in 7th grade and in choir when we first heard about it. My choir teacher was my least favorite teacher because she was SUPER strict, but that day when the principal said to not have the radio or tv on and not to talk about it, she closed the door and put the radio on. She treated us as though we were old enough to understand what was going on, which we were.
I remember comforting a friend whose dad was on a flight to the Pentagon and she couldn't get a hold of her mom. I also remember having nightmares for months afterward, even though we lived in Kansas.

Tamara Camera said...

I lived in New Brunswick at the time, attending Rutgers. I was at a first period class and then enjoying my breakfast at the dining hall when a kid at a table next to me screamed, "Did you hear that?? On the radio?" And then he ran out. I ran to a bus and was told all classes were canceled and we all should go home.
My ex worked at the World Trade Center. He generally got to work late so he wasn't even in NYC when it happened. His bus turned him around and he wound up on my doorstep. We got back together (not the best idea in the long run). We drove to the shore to help with survival centers and we could see the smoke from across the water. We could smell it too. Unforgettable.

misty said...

thank you for sharing your story! It is still hard to think about the people that didn't make it out of the building. I remember hearing the first airplane in the sky a week later, it scared me.

Jenny said...

Thanks for the post..I have chills still remembering everything so vividly...

Dona B said...

Wow, I haven't thought about that morning in quite a while. I live in California so it was really early here when the first plane hit. I don't know how I got the news because I didn't have a TV at home then. Possibly someone from my carpool called me and told me to look at the news online.

When we finally left to go to work we sat silent in the car and listened to the news unfold on the radio. I'm glad now I didn't have a TV because the events were horrific enough without the visual detail.

I remember my department got no work done that day. We drifted around the halls and congregated around one of a few TVs on our floor that someone had hooked up to CNN's internet feed. It all felt so unreal, especially from the distance. But our office windows looked out over the flight path to our local airport and someone pointed out mid day that we hadn't seen one plane. That made it much more real.

Unique Heart said...

I was in Brooklyn, NY. I was in fifth grade. I remember parents coming to pick their children up from school. I didn't find out about it until later that day around 1 pm when a teacher told us what happened. I remember the dark skies and the charred scraps of paper in our backyards all over the neighborhood. While I don't remember this too vividly there was a family in my school who's dad passed on 9/11.

Sara said...

I was a senior in college ( about an hour outside of NYC) and was in class when we were told there had been some sort of plane crash in the city and class was cancelled. At this point I didn't understand the magnitude of what happened. Coming back to my apartment and turning on the TV I was shocked at the images. We spent the entire day glued to the tv.

My roomies mother worked dowtown and it took several hours for us to reach her. She was okay and had still been on the Staten Island ferry when the plane hit. They turned the ferry around and made everyone wear llife vests. That same roomie got a call from her brother to say his fiances father was in the first building and was missing. We later found out he had passed away.

Tristan said...

I was in my 1 bedroom apartment with my first little baby while hubby was at work. We had no tv. My mom called to tell me about it and I listened to the radio all day.

Tammy said...

This morning hubby and I were remembering that day like it was yesterday. We were in a long distance relationship, on the phone when the 1st plane hit. He was a fireman at that time and about to retire after 30 years and he was so upset because he knew many firemen would die that day. Firemen save people first without realizing their own lives might be in danger.

And to answer your question if God was looking after those who died that day. Yes he was. This was an act of the devil, not him and he accepted those who did perish in his arms that day.

Vita said...

I'm European, so of course for us in Europe it surely did feel different than for those in America but it sure felt scary. I was in highschool at that time and when i heard the news I thought they were reading extracts from some kind of fiction book. I remember the feeling of uncertainty for the future. It really felt like the World War 3 was about to begin.

Amy Boyington said...

I often wonder, too, what it was like in other parts of the country. I was in high school in New Jersey then, not far from NYC and many students in the school had family who worked at the towers and in the city. It was so frightening. Reading about Schonbrun's story really brought me back. I can't imagine what he has to live through every day - all those images, sounds, thoughts in his brain. Losing so many of his co-workers. I just can't imagine it. God Bless him and all survivors and victims.

Jessica InTruBeauty said...

I will never forget this day. I was a sophomore in college attending class and had to go back to the dorms to wake up my roommate and tell her what was happening. Its an sad day to think about. I try to think about the heros that risked their lives for others.

Holly Higgins said...

I was a sophomore in college, in the town where I live now and I read the news that a plane had crashed into the first tower and thought it was an accident. It wasn't until I turned on CNN and saw one of the towers collapse that I realized it wasn't an accident. I immediately called my mom and we watched the second tower collapse together. While the Federal, city and county offices, as well as the public schools and even the mall closed here, my college did not. I went to calculus and all of us watched what was happening on our computers and paid no attention to class. I had a political science class with an eccentric professor afterwards, and the class was packed with all sorts from around the campus waiting to hear what he had to say. I remember the Muslim students being afraid to leave their dorms for fear of retaliation. I remember waking up my friend and dorm neighbor, who had slept til 1PM that day and telling her what happened. Worst of all, I remember being so afraid for my cousin who worked in Manhattan and his mother not being able to get ahold of him. When she did, we found out that the windows of the shop where he worked had blown out when the buildings collapsed and thinking how grateful I was for him to be alive and feeling so awful for the families of those that died.

Brittany Thomas said...

I was 16 and on vacation. I remember my dad coming back from the market saying that planes had crashed into the WTC and we all thought he was just joking. It all seemed so surreal.

Tiffany Mitchell said...

Living in Alabama makes New York seem like a world away but on that day, watching that second plane crash on the tv in my 8th grade English class made it seem like it was right outside our window. Everyone was wondering what was next. For me, I was panicking because I knew the majority of my family would be strapping on their boots and going to war. I remember thinking on the way home who would get orders to leave first. My heart still breaks for everyone who lost someone because of this terrible act.

Desiree Macke said...

Wow, this brought chills while I was reading.
I think the whole world stood still on 9.11. I remember that day like it was yesterday.
We will never forget...

Kristin said...

It was so sad. I've heard other stories of people late to work or went out to take a cigarette break. The little details in life and how what we do affects our day's outcome is amazing... no words...

Jacquelyn said...

I think God was looking out for everyone including the family and friends of those who were lost. I was only in 5th grade at the time and I don't remember much about the day other than watching the news.

Shauna S. said...

I was in college on Long Island. It was a scary and frantic day, everyone was in panic mode trying to reach their relatives and friends. I still have not seen the memorial. It has been a while since I have made my way to that part of NYC. Thank you for sharing your story.

Maura said...

I too question why God saves one, and let's the other 1000's die. But life is temporary, and the life after here is way better - so maybe he was actually more gracious to those 1000's who lost their life? Deep questions with no answers we will find out now...but thanks for sharing what you did.

Jaime @ Slightly Steady said...

I'm sure Avi asks himself that question every morning - why me? Why not the other 600+ people who died in that building? With something like that on your shoulders, even after you got over the survivor's guilt, you would feel like you owed it to everyone to live the best possible life you could...I lived in Washington growing up. I was asleep when the towers were hit - didn't even find out what really happened until hours and hours later when we got up, went to school, and they called an assembly. It was surreal realizing something that huge could happen, and while the whole world was freaking out, I was sleeping, then eating cereal...I had no clue.

Cori's Coupon Corner said...

I am in South Florida where we have lots of ties to New York and time stood still here for sure. I was teaching 3rd grade at a Hebrew Day school and I remember huddling in a closet with a small tv with some other teachers as we tried to find out as much info as we can without alerting our students. It was a scary day for sure.

Jennifer said...

I was actually in Texas in High School and yes, everything stopped. They wheeled in TV's to the classrooms and we all watched the news coverage and watched the second plane hit. It is something that I will never forget.

Stopping by from www.HappilyUprooted.com during the Blogelina commentathon! Thanks for the awesome post!

Jennifer said...
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Elizabeth FrugalMomEh said...

I'm actually Canadian but I DO remember 9/11 clearly. It was such a shock and devastating to us as well. I was in my first year of university and we all spent the day huddled around the tv in the common room watching the news.

andi said...

12 years later - we will remember - we will never forget....

Kasey Shuler said...

The world stood still for me too. I remember being in class and everything stopped while we watched TV. I didn't even know what the twin towers were. It felt strange to go back to normal life after that, but still take the time to thank God for the people who acted as heroes that day, that He is still in control when everything else is in chaos, and pray for those who lost family and friends.

Jim said...

This reminded me of a video I saw of Brian Clark, a survivor and employee of Euro Brokers, which was in the South Tower. He was one of four people to escape from a floor above the impact. It's an incredible story...

Taynia | The Fiscal Flamingo said...

What an honor to hear him speak. The small, seemingly insignificant details and their impact are certainly thought provoking. An incredible story. God was watching over him, as well as the 1000's who died.

Marissa from Mommy Knows What's Best said...

I was in college at the time, and in a class waiting for a professor. While we were waiting, we were watching the news and saw what was going on. When the professor came in, he turned off the TV and said something about planes crashing all the time and how it wasn't a big deal. Oh, but it was!

After class, the world was definitely standing still. The entire campus had stopped moving and instead flocked to the nearest TVs to watch the news.

Katrina said...

I was at highschool in Hamilton Ontario Canada and the world stopped for us too. Although the vast majority of us had no personal connection to 9/11 we were in solidarity with the grief/confusion you felt as well.

Jana Sooter said...

I live in Louisville. And that day was so surreal. The city was quiet. I had gone to the doctor that morning and I remember everybody had this look on their face of complete shock . As if they were on the verge of tears. They sent my husbands home from work and the thing I remember most was just wanting to hold my family tight.

Jana Sooter said...

*I mean they sent my husband home. I only have one. I was going to say they sent my husband's staff home.

Angi said...

Hubby and I slept in that morning and awoke to two fallen towers. We watched the news most of the day.

Athena Nagel said...

Great post. I had not heard this gentleman's name but I heard the story - so many times about so many people. Several thousand souls perished that day but so many others didn't. For reasons just like this - for some strange reason that day so many people were not where they were supposed to be. Lots of different reasons but they just weren't. The death toll should have been so much higher - but it wasn't - thankfully. Life is strange sometimes and yes the world did stop for quite a while after that.

Lily Seymour said...

This was such a beautiful story shared! I was a flight attendant for 20yrs and retired in 2008. My personal journey from the 9/11 tragedy was surreal and my healing process was incredibly slow. I wasn't in direct impact but I knew other flight attendants who suffered from the impact.... and it affected me tremendously. You are a blessing for sharing your story with us!

Brittany Jean said...

I was in Nevada and the world stood still for us. Thank you so much for sharing your brave story.

Rebecca @ Love at First Book said...

Happy to meet another Jewish blogger! I think everyone's mom jokes about the trip you take to Israel. . . not coming back without an Israeli husband/a nose ring. I came back with neither, but my sister got the nose ring (tiny, classy, like Christina Aguilera's) when she went!

Fabulous, moving post!

-Rebecca @ Love at First Book

Kate said...

I was in college and working at a federal building that day. None of us could work. We listened to the radio and eventually all gathered around a television to watch the live footage. I remember shock, fear, and horror as the buildings collapsed. Not long after our buildings was evacuated because federal buildings were targeted. It was a scary time. I remember the eerie silence as the planes were grounded. I remember the fear and uncertainty as we went back to work, not knowing if the terrorist would strike again. I also remember a great sense of patriotism and crying at the sight of the American flag. For once it didn't matter out differences or political ideology...we were Ameicans and that was enough.

Nikki said...

It must have been very haunting yet incredible to hear him speak! I live in the Poconos, not too far from the city, so I remember it well. We had family and friends in the city that day, but not in the towers thankfully.

Nailderella said...

I live in Europe but I remember that day. I was in high school and I remember exactly what we were doing when we heard about it. We were having a physics lesson and someone entered our class room to tell us about it. We all stood still and kind of froze...
thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Spoon Feast said...

We couldn't believe what was happening. I was teaching culinary school and one of my students said "everyone I know works in those buildings!" All we cold do was watch in horror.

Emily Thompson said...

Wow, what a great post to write. I hope the world never forgets what happened that day... I was in college and thought it wasn't real. Things like that don't really happen right? Stopping by as part of the blogathon. Emily@nap-timecreations

Kemi Quinn said...

I was at work that day. We are on the West Coast but I used to live in NY and my father still does. It was a very sad day. Thank you for the link to Avi.

C. Lee Reed said...

So beautifully written and definitely worth remembering. How awful the day must have been for him, yet he rejoices by sharing his story of blessing.

Cher said...

I was in college in IL and honestly I didn't understand wholly what happened at the time.

Thinking Outside The Sandbox said...

I am Canadian, but still in university, there were TVs rolled into the common area so we could all watch the news. I am still not sure why we all needed to see the footage over and over, but it will be forever etched in my memory. Thanks for sharing.