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Shook to the Core

“I still vividly remember everything I did on that day,” Joseph Prate said. “30 years young, living in Des Plaines, Illinois with Rico, my brother. I think it was around 8:30 in the morning when I get a call from Karen, my girlfriend. She said something along the lines of “Are you seeing what’s happening in New York?! You won’t believe what is happening.”

“Immediately, I turn on the TV in the basement, and there it is. Bright and bold on the screen. Both towers are burning. I could barely even see them, there was so much smoke.  A few minutes later, I get another call from my manager at Friday’s. All she said was, “Don’t come into work today. Stay home. Watch what’s happening,” and she hung up. And that was all that I did. I went upstairs to the kitchen.

“Rico had the day off, so he didn’t have to worry about work. We didn’t even get dressed. We made our eggs and sausages, and just sat on the couch, eating and watching. A few minutes later, the news turns to D.C. They show a part of the Pentagon in smoke.

“At the exact same time, Rico and I say “Oh %^&*.” In big red letters at the bottom of the TV, the headline says, “Airspace is shutdown.”

“As I sit in fear, Rico calls mom. I can’t make out everything they say, but with the way Ahe is talking, she sounded panicked. I mean, I couldn’t blame her. 20 minutes later, I think my heart stopped for a second.

“The South Tower falls. It doesn’t fall over, no no no. It falls straight down from where it stood. Smoke was around that area for a little while, and then it’s just gone. I thought I broke a vocal cord when I yelled so loudly.

“And then maybe four minutes later, the news shows citizens evacuating the Sears Tower.

“THEN a minute later, the news turns again to Pennsylvania. A plane crashed into an open field. Nowhere near a building. Just by trees. At this moment, I knew, we were being attacked.

“Another 20 minutes pass, and the North Tower collapses. It was identical to the first fall. At this moment, Rico and I are crying. I called Gina, our sister, when the first tower fell. And she was scared something was going to happen in Chicago. I told her we were safe, and nothing will happen.

“I think it was right before 11 a.m. when a part of the Pentagon fell. Not the whole building, but some stories fell where the plane crashed. The news gives information about the crash in Pennsylvania saying the passengers of the plane sacrificed their lives and crashed the plane thinking the hijackers were heading for the White House. I think that was the most important part of the day for me. These citizens were willing to save a huge monument of our nation.

“The day goes on slowly, with Rico and I never leaving the TV for more than minutes. We didn’t even eat lunch. I didn’t have an appetite after seeing the towers fall. Finally, around 5:15, I made burgers and fries for Rico and me. Right when we sat on the couch, a building by the twin towers falls. I think it was called 7 WTC. That shocked be because no plane hit that tower. It might have fallen from debris and fire that started on the twin towers.

“September 11th, 2001 is by far the most draining emotional day for me.

“There was never a happy moment on that day. People say it was a roller coaster day. It really wasn’t. It was a “climbing Mount Everest” day. The crashes and people dying just kept climbing and we couldn’t do anything about it. In the end, that day will go down as one of the most horrific day’s in American history.”

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