Generic,  Technology

Never Forget

world trade center attacked
September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

On the morning of September 11th 2001, a normal sunny autumn morning, I was on my way to the office (Fidelity Investments) at the World Trade Center Boston. I was stepping off the shuttle bus from the Subway (Boston refers to the underground transportation as simply the T). I heard the news broadcast announcing the first plane had hit the World Trade Center New York. I was taken aback as stepping off but figured I head wrong or hadn’t sunk in yet.

I made my way inside and the trading floor was like nothing I had seen in there before. Usually quiet and traders staring at screens had become a hive of crazy bees and others just staring with slack jaw glued to the televisions broadcasting CNN live. We had the new plasma televisions and watching this horror in crystal clear high definition.

I supported the UNIX servers for the trading floor which all the market transactions took place. My team was comprised of ex-military who became soldiers of fortune after their tours. They didn’t flinch and we sprang into action. My immediate boss was a large burley man and a gunnery sergeant from the marines with a brash loud attitude with a vocabulary composed heavily of 4 letter words. My coworker was former Army soldier, he had crossed checkpoint Charlie in Berlin Germany among other amazing tales. My boss gave us the go ahead and we took control of the New York severs. We had consoles monitoring the temperatures of the Sun Sparc servers with temperatures ever increasing before going offline and melting. We backed up the data from New York to Boston, we watched and waited with baited breath doing what we could.

The news reported the second building was hit and a short while after, the pentagon was hit. The high adrenaline and emotions were bubbling over in the Boston World Trade Center location was many were friends with the New York location and spoke on the phone daily or would travel to the other sister location regularly. The Boston WTC on Seaport Ave is only two stories high and resembles a pier hanging over the water, if your familiar with the location on the other side of the bay is Logan airport. The runway sends jets right over our location all day, every day, usually only a few hundred feet high. We were a potential target and in harms way for these ballistic bombs and we wouldn’t have much warning if the Logan Airport had a jet take off as they were a few thousand feet away. It was decided we had done as much as we could do to support the New York collogues, they only other thing we could do was pray for their safety. We were sent home that morning and prayed no dirty bombs, sarin gas in subways or other fears of our potential demise loomed near by.

That day is burned into my memory and hits close to home. I could have easily been at the other location that day and felt grateful I dodged a bullet personally that day. But the loss of murdered coworkers will always stay with me.

Never forget.

My name is Art Vandelay, I'm a truss designer or structural engineer which is like an architect. I follow the UNIX philosophy, do one thing and do it well. I have a few decades of experience working for large corporations maintaining high end servers for information services.