911

12 Sep

In the final moments of the 11th anniversary of 9/11, I find myself having a hard time accepting that so much time has passed since the attacks. I was an 8th grader heading to the counselor’s office on some trivial task when I stared in shock and confusion at the smoke billowing from the first World Trade tower on the TV screen. Today, I am a young professional, two years removed from college. But with each passing year, the since of dread, gloom and tribute associated with the date remains.

Last year, I had the opportunity to interview DeWane Harris, a man who was working in New York nearby when the planes fell. Today, I find myself rereading his words and thinking about the lasting damage on the nation’s psyche, an effect that was somewhat and somehow balmed by the slaying of Osama Bin Laden. May we never forget.

 

Remembering 9/11

By LASHONDA COOKS

The Dallas Examiner

Ten years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, New York native DeWane Harris still feels the effects. When a plane flies low over Downtown Dallas, he wonders whether it’s routine or ominous. And, now, whenever he hears the roar of thunder, he questions whether it’s really thunder or the sound of a plane crashing.

 “At 8:46, I remember—I’ll never forget this—the only sound I could equate it to being thunder. The whole sky filled with the sound of thunder. And, we thought that it was about to be a thunderstorm,” he recalled.

Women in the office complained about their soon-to-be ruined hair while Harris looked out the window and searched the cloudless morning sky for the thunderstorm’s whereabouts before returning to work.  His office was across the street from the two targeted towers on the World Trade Center campus.

 “Nobody knew right away,” Harris noted.

Not even the subsequent sirens ringing down the street alarmed the laborers.

“If you’re in Downtown Manhattan on any given day, it’s always something going on. So that was also not a red flag,” he stated.

It wasn’t until the second plane hit that Harris and his co-workers realized something was wrong. The much larger plane made the earth shake and knocked out the electricity for the area when it came plummeting into the building.

“When we looked out again, there were clouds. Black clouds of smoke,” Harris remembered.

From his window, Harris watched as things resembling desks came flying of the towers’ windows. First, he wondered why people would be so concerned with material things. He later realized that those tumbling items were actually people.

“I looked again and saw things wriggling . . . I realized those are arms and legs, those are people. Those people had to decide do I burn to death or do I jump,” he said.

He estimates that about 100 people jumped.

“People were coming out of the windows like flies,” Harris stated.

He also remembers people standing on the roof of the tower waving their arms in hopes of being whisked away by helicopters.

“So, you saw people at the top . . . and you knew they were condemned to die,” he reflected.

The building burned for over an hour before it collapsed. Many of the people killed were those standing outside of the building waiting and watching for other survivors. Nearly 3,000 people died that day.

 “I learned on that day, you do not have to be old to die. Before that day, I wanted to party and hang out and I wasn’t thinking about God. But, so many young people died—people in their 20s and 30s—just died in an instant. I woke up September 11 and everything was fine. A few hours later, lots of people I knew were dead,” Harris stated.

The former Wall Street paralegal, Broadway stagehand and actor relocated to Dallas a few weeks ago to be closer to his aging parents. He currently lives with his brother, Rev. Phelix Harris, who pastors a local church. He is currently looking for a job.

“I’m here in Dallas trying to start a new life,” he noted.

Harris had initially planned to fly back to New York to be at Ground Zero for the attack’s 10th anniversary, but changed his plans to remain close to his ailing father. He learned of the Southwest Center Mall Tribute after the 9/11 committee in New York told him about the local ceremony.

“I felt in my heart that I needed to do something,” Harris stated.

He urges the greater community to come together in a unity that spans racial and economic barriers.

“Americans . . . we need to stick together. We don’t have time to be here fighting each other, when we have people doing terrorism against us,” he reasoned.

Join Harris and others in commemorating the victims and survivors of 9/11 attacks at the Lest We Forget 911 Tribute Project this Saturday in the parking lot Southwest Center Mall at 8:45 a.m. The ceremony will feature a memorial service where all 2,900 names of the victims will be called and a flag ceremony by the Red Bird Civil Air Control. The tribute commemorates 9/11 victims and honors the tragedy’s first responders.

 

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2 Responses to “911”

  1. Dienna October 7, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    Really powerful interview. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

    • lcooksmarketer1 October 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

      Thanks so much for reading! It was so eerie to collect such candid memories from DeWane. Really brought the sights and feelings of the day rushing back.

      Like

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