The worst day of our lives


I had taken a train into New York City. Then a cab to the Garden. It was, I guess, around 8:30 a.m. I stopped into a Starbucks near the Garden and was standing in a long line when some jackwagon came in hollering and screaming, interspersed with F-bombs, about something happening at the World Trade Center.

Idiot, I thought. When I got close to the front of the line I could see a TV up in the corner, and there was a picture of the WTC, smoke coming out of one of the higher floors. And people were saying a small plane hit it. Geez. How could that happen?

So, across to the Garden I went. The Rangers were skipping their annual trip to Burlington, Vt., for camp. They were going to have it at MSG and let the fans in for free, sort of an olive branch for all the lousy hockey they had presented since 1997.

They were supposed to be staying at the World Trade Center Marriott, but something happened and that got scuttled, and they wound up in a mid-town hotel. Early that Sept. 11 morning, they were to start trickling in for pre-camp physical exams and testing.

By the time I walked through the employees’ entrance, people were saying it wasn’t a small plane, but a big jet that hit the skyscraper. Still, it was exceptionally odd and worrisome, but there was no idea how bad.

Then, and I don’t remember the order, but it seemed at almost the same time, came word that the Pentagon was hit, and so was the other tower downtown. Holy crap!

All the buildings in New York were now being evacuated. Sirens were screaming, all of them headed south, and you can’t imagine how many of them. Soon there were F-16 fighter jets, deafeningly loud, unbelievably low, zooming across the city skyline. There was fear of what had just happened, and fear that more might be coming? What next? The Empire State Building? Grand Central? The bridges? The Garden?

I started to make my way home, and it would take about 12 hours of walking, jumping cabs and buses and finally making it to the Metro North Station in New Rochelle for a train home. I saw the second tower fall with my own eyes.

Soon after we started to see how intertwined the Rangers were with 9/11. They are, afterall, one of two teams that actually plays in Manhattan. They were the only team in the city that day. And they had the largest number of players and staff actually living in the city. They would play the first post-9/11 sporting events, albeit exhibition games.

Brian Leetch lost a close friend, John Murry (see’s story here). Don Maloney lost his brother-in-law Tommy Palazzo (I went to high school with him, and the last time I saw him was at MSG, him telling me about the great view he has from his office at the WTC). The L.A. Kings’ scouting director Ace Bailey and scout Mark Bavis were on the second plane to hit the tower.

What I remember most was how the Rangers reacted, how great Glen Sather and Ron Low were, how the players went on their own to visit firehouses and workers at Ground Zero and — unlike some of our other pro sports teams around here, who seem to think 9/11 was about them, or that the commemoration of the event is a marketing tool —  the Rangers never invited the media or the cameras to make the visits with them.

They did everything right, and for the right reasons. For that, I have always — and always will — admire the organization.

I’ll probably have more later on.

I’m just wondering if any of you want to share your memories or thoughts on the worst day of our lives.

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  1. I was at work, doing my regular morning report with residents. After that, it’s a blur…I stayed in the hospital for more than 48 hours, as did most of the doctors that day. We were all waiting for injured and sick patients to come in. Not a single patient. Not a single darn soul we could’ve helped. They all perished. Mrs says hello to all. I told her what Carp posted. She is crying.

    We all lost someone. We need to never forget. And we need to move on. Cherish what you have. Hug your lived ones.

  2. I was at work. My sister called me and told me a plane hit one of the Twin Towers. What?! I couldn’t believe how that could happen. Then she called again and told me another plane hit the other tower. She saw it happen on TV! I’m in disbelief. WTF!!!!!! Then she calls me AGAIN and tells me a plane hit the Pentagon. OK, now I’m scared Carcillo-less. Another call (at which time I don’t want to answer the phone) she says the tower came down. I said, “what do you mean? it came DOWN?” She said I saw it on TV. It’s gone. It collapsed. The rest of the day is a blur… the plane that crashed in Shanksville and the second tower coming down. All flights cancelled. Going home from work? Did I spend the day at the office? I don’t recall. Coming home and watching replays on TV and not even knowing enough curse words to use. Calling my parents just to hear their voices.

    9/11 took everything out of my mom. She was never the same person again. She could not believe people could do something like that. She died two years later. She lost the will to live.

  3. Carp, how did you see the second tower fall? Weren’t you too far uptown? Not that I doubt you. I’m just curious.

  4. gardenfaithfulinfl on

    I was in FL at the time at work. One of my co-worker’s husband called and said a plane hit the WTC. My first thought was ‘idiot’ that an amateur pilot messed up. A few minutes later her husband called back and said something about the Pentagon but reports were unsure. At that point I ran downstairs to the pizza place that had a television with a few co-workers right behind me. As I ran through the door the very first image I saw was the plane hitting the second tower. It is an image that is forever burned into my mind’s eye.

  5. I was in at Palmer College of Chiropractic and remember going to class that morning and walking in and my buddy Pete who went to Bloomfield College with me for undergrad said a plane had hit the WTC. I remember everyone hanging out in the hallways and in the student lounge watching everything unfold. Classes were cancelled…
    Just an awful day.

  6. onecupin72yearsandcounting on

    I was on a treadmill working out when I saw one of news channels comment saying that a small plane had crashed into the WTC, by the picture it was evident that it wasn’t a small plane and it was hardly an accident.

    The day was so clear it would have been impossible for it to be any thing other then an act of terrorism,, the second plane confirmed it as did the act at the Pentagon.
    As the act progressed and the buildings collapsed , I was so angered at our government for letting this happen.. someone had to know about this.. turns out several people had Osama in their sights but the US underestimated him.

    It happened at Pearl harbor 1941 and at The WTC in 93 and 2001 , some day it will happen again..

  7. Marji, I was crossing either Fifth Avenue or Madison, and in mid-town you’re uphill and you can see downtown pretty clearly. And you could see all the smoke, and then I saw the giant cloud mushroom as the second building fell.

    ilb, I was talking to somebody the other day who was working in one of the hospitals down there and he said the same thing. Nobody came in. He said he handed out a few band-aids. And waiting. Nobody came.

  8. I was sitting at home in Norway, just gotten back from a walk and had put my son down for a nap. Kind of tired myself I just flopped down on the sofa and switched the channels, can’t remember if it was the Norwegian channels or if it was CNN, but someone was showing horrible picture from New York.

    I sat up in shock and stared at the screen as the second tower was hit.
    It was so far away in a country on the other side of the world,
    in a city I had never been to but it felt so close and so personal.

    I cried as I watched the devastation images until I couldn’t take it anymore.
    Then I picked up my beautiful baby boy from his crib and let him sleep the rest of his nap in my arms. But the images from New York are forever etched in my brain and are something I’ll never forget.

    I was able to visit ground Zero in 2005 with my son, we held hands as we put down flowers and said a little prayer. We’ll never forget 9.11.

  9. I was in my senior year at St Bonavanture University. My only class that day was at 1pm so I was sleeping in. I awoke around 10am to the news on my radio that planes had struck in NY and DC. I couldn’t believe it at first, so I grabbed the remote, turned the tv onto a news station and was instantly stunned at the images. My senior thesis suggestion one sheet had to be turned in that day and I had all plans to type it up before class. I managed to do that, in and around watching the horrifying scenes on tv. It was the worst thing I have ever written.

    Upon hearing about the plane in Shanksville, I began to worry. I had no idea where that was, only that it was in PA and that I was currently 20 minutes away from that state. I remember calling my Mom and honestly freaking out about everything over the phone to her. Everything was so up in the air, I started thinking about my family, 5 hours away in Albany and how Albany was NY’s capital and it was mere miles from the Watervliet Arsenal and the GE Nuclear Plant in Schenectady. Looking back, it was absurd to have these thoughts and yet, I had them.

    The rest of the day passed in a blur. Students and professors wandered around campus in shock. CNN was playing on the projector in the Murphy Auditorium, it was playing on the big tv in the RC Cafe. The journalism department (I was a J major) was using this as a huge teaching tool, even on that day. Our ROTC department walked around campus in their military uniforms. We had a memorial/prayer service that evening in our chapel and it was packed. Campus priests, the counseling center and campus ministry were open and available to anyone that needed to talk.

    In the blink of an eye, our idyllic, beautiful campus tucked away in the Allegheny Moutains turned from worrying about classes and papers and internships to worrying about loved ones and our country at large.

    A huge number of students were from the NYC area and we had (and still have) so many alum there. I remember hearing about Fr Judge, a Franciscian and the FDNY Chaplain at the time, a man that many of our priests and brothers on campus knew. I remember not being able to turn off the tv at all that day/night, still unable to process what I was seeing.

    Even though I am from upstate, that day made me feel closer to NYC than I had ever been and that has become even more apparent as the years have passed.

  10. This is a first and prob only post but:
    Great job Carp
    And all other boneheads ur definatly entertaining
    But I had to say that on this day those 40 or so people on United 93 are what a hero really is. I will always be proud to be American because of them

  11. I wasn’t expecting to get so emotional this morning. Ha, I don’t know what I was thinking.

    This blog has become so much more than what it was originally intended to be.

    To all those lost, WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

  12. billy, I’m with you on how emotional this morning has been. I’ve been up since 6am, watching the coverage and it’s struck me in a way that I wasn’t anticipating.

    God bless all those whose lives were lost that day.

  13. You were all my age or older when 9/11 happened. I was in 4th grade. I still remember that day but it seems like i only remember it from telling the story to people who asked me where were you on 9/11? It goes like this:

    As a young child i didn’t understand why everyone was leaving school early. By 1030AM there were only 3 people left in my 4th grade class. Me and two other innocent children that were extremely angry that we were still in school while everyone else got to go home. I couldn’t understand why? When me and the 2 other kids asked our teacher why everyone was going home, she just didn’t answer. She didn’t teach. She kept leaving the class room. We just sat there. Finally the PE system went on and the voice over the speaker said it was my turn to go home. I was so so so so happy, on a day i should have not been. I was extremely puzzled as to why my mom would be taking me out of school. She never, and when i mean never i mean NEVER, took me out of school early. Unless the nurse called her and said you need to come pick up your child now i would stay in school 6 hours a day. Anyway i packed my things and headed off to the main office, the hallways were empty, the class room were empty. There were 4 hours left of school and the building was quite. I got to the main office to see my mom holding my little brother in her arms who was in 1st grade at the same school and my older cousins standing near by. I walked up to them and my mom grabbed me and hugged me. Im now thinking what is going on, and hoping were going to do something fun since she is also taking my cousin and brother out of school. On the drive home i finally found out what had happened. As a young child i didn’t really know what to think. I remember watching the planes hit the buildings when i got home, but honestly i cant remember what type of emotions i had, perhaps because i didn’t have a distinct emotion. My younger brother then asked me to go play N64, i happily agreed and that took up the better part of my day. I was a child and i only started to understand what really happened in the years following. I learned from seeing first hand the hatred that was formed and the nationalism that was built. I guess it was a sad day for me, but honestly i cant remember.

  14. Loved, not lived, sorry for that typo… Tough to type on iPhone with poor service with your eyes full of tears. And your wife sitting across and crying nonstop. By the way, I was writing my morning post while we were having lunch in small, Arabic village Akko, not far from Haifa. Friendly, hospitable, fun loving people. Smiling. There is very little doubt they have no desire to be associated with any of those events. What went wrong? Most importantly, when is it going to end?

  15. I was in 7th grade and going to school down in Brooklyn. We had just walked out of music class when everyone was ushered back into our homerooms. I don’t know who told me–the rumors were FLYING. There was a bomb. A plane. The WTC. The Pentagon. The statue of liberty. Once we all settled down, the phone calls tried to go out. Every student with a cell phone called out, unable to reach their parents. Parents who could call called the school to tell their kids they were okay. Babysitters and family showed up in trickles to get their kids home. My best friend was hysterical–her father worked across the street. He made it out okay.

    My brother was a sophomore in the same building and couldn’t reach my mom. After some arguments with my homeroom teacher, he pulled me out and we walked across our neighborhood to pick up our younger siblings from elementary school. They asked us what was wrong–we couldn’t tell them. They asked us about mom–we couldn’t tell them. We walked home and did what any other kids would do.

    We turned on cartoon network. My younger brother was five–he stayed and watched Bugs Bunny while my brother read the ticker tape and I sat in my room, by the phone, answering phone calls from every member of our family. I could crane my head to look at the skyline from my window and all I remember seeing was smoke. Miles and miles of that thick, black smoke.

    Eventually, my mom and her coworker came home. They had evacuated down 40 floors of their building and walked eight miles to get to our house. She was covered in dust. To reach home, they crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. I didn’t see it, but mom told us that people had lined across the bridge with food, and water for the people who walked home that day. And when the Rangers played that exhibition game, we all sat down to watch together.

  16. Carp, thank you for the touching article in today’s paper. I still have a lump in my throat, and reading the story makes me proud of who we are. Thank you.

  17. Wow. Strikethrough typos. That’s new… sorry!

    Wanted to say that while I hate that we all seem to have stories, I’m thankful that everyone can share them. Now, I’m off to bake cookies for a local firehouse. Give someone a hug today!

  18. Leine and everyone, thank you for sharing so much of your personal stories. It’s been 10 years and this is still part of the healing process.

  19. RIP Cousin Frank. Prayers for all the victims of and families affected by 9/11.

    edd, Caroline Wozniacki is like the female Michael Chang. She tries to return every ball in an effort to tire the opponent. Therefore, it was the strategy of Serena to overpower Wozniacki in an attempt to end points quickly. When Serena overpowers an opponent, it is a decision, a strategy. Despite being in poor form last night because of a *year’s absence from tennis*, it still takes tremendous mechanics to generate the power that she does. A tennis player does not just swing the racket as hard as he/she can when effectively using power. Mechanics are required. There ends today’s lesson. :)

  20. Today is also a day to honor those that have sacrificed their lives over the past decade to prevent anymore terrorism against our country

  21. I was at work in DC a few blocks from the White House. We could see smoke from the Pentagon from the office and I watched the Towers come down on TV. As a New Yorker by birth and being raised there (which I will always be), it felt like the blows were coming from all angles. Little did we know that a plane that would have been headed for the White House and could have easily hit us instead, was taken down by an extraordinary group of American heroes. We also heard rumors of a bomb at the State Department, which turned out not to be true. I count myself truly lucky to have been (and to remain) safe, but the loss was, has been, and remains profound. Carp, thanks for the forum and the well-written articles that clearly come straight from the heart.

  22. I was at my job @ Verizon in Madison NJ that morning. We had no radio reception, no TV, only internet (which as the day went on got incredibly slow). Co-workers that were able to reach people on the phone gave us updates, but some were so contradicting we didn’t know how what was true. Our boss told us to stay at work and tell any customers that we were only taking calls from government or Hospitals . To make a long story short, I left my job at 5pm and as I was traveling home on Rt 287 the highway was completely deserted. When I turned on my tv @ 6pm, that was the first time I saw what had happened.

    None of my family or friends were victims (thank goodness) so to this this day I feel weird a bit this tragedy. I did remember that the Rangers were supposed to be staying at the Marriott by ground zero,(I didn’t know until today that they were at another hotel in NYC) but figured they’d be MSG by the time of the attack, so they would be ok.

    I don’t know what else to say right now other than, thoughts to the victims and thanks to Carp for his story.

  23. I was a snot-nosed, freshman in college when it happened (out in rural in PA after growing up my whole life in NYC) . I wanted to be back in NYC. I was homesick for the few weeks I was there already. It was a culture shock.

    I was sleeping that Tuesday morning. My friend Catie, woke me with a text to turn on my TV. I asked why the hell is she waking me up at 10 AM when I don’t have any classes. She said that “something bad happened in NY”. I turned on my TV and I saw the unimaginable happening in my home town. Immediately, I thought of all the folks I knew in Manhattan and my best bud who just started at NYU. When I tried calling them, all I got was a busy signal for hours. Then, the plane came down in PA (not far from school), and I was very nervous and I actually was panicking.

    I finally spoke to my Dad by cell phone that afternoon. He immediately told me that this was an act of war and that freedom was being attacked. I still didn’t get it. He told me that Islamic militants have used techniques like this against Israel in the past and that this was probably a terrorist act, not an attack by a nation state. I still didn’t understand. Why would some group be so cowardly and ruthless. I was changed forever.

    I never used to think twice about cops, fireman, or military personnel before that day. I was living in a dream world. I was a spoiled kid. I took them for granted. Not anymore… They are the heroes that make America exceptional…the most relevant lesson from 9/11…

    I learned what means to be an American. 10 years later I can still say: “Together we stand; divided we fall”. I hope that the message of 9/11 resonates forever. We can’t forget. We mustn’t forget. We will prevail. We have prevailed.

  24. I have a glossy banner abut 11X17 maybe a little bigger in my Ranger Room that must have been handed out either on opening night or maybe a pre season game that year and it says:

    We at The New York Rangers send our thoughts and prayers to the families of all injured and lost, New York’s finest and bravest, all volunteers and rescue workers.

    Then there is the Rangers Emblem at the bottom. On the other side is the American Flag.

    Can’t believe it has been 10 years.

  25. That was probably the weirdest day of my life. I was in the 6th grade, and just showed up for school. We all just sat there and did nothing while the teacher was just looking out the window. It was awesome! No work, being able to talk. I was so happy. Eventually our names got called one by one, as our parents showed up.

    I didn’t really know what happened until days later. I guess my family didn’t want me to worry, since my dad was a firefighter. I definitely didn’t understand the purpose of the attacks until years later. Luckily my dad was alright, but he lost a lot of friends, obviously.

    Hard to believe it’s been 10 years. Time really does fly!

  26. I have the first preseason home game against the Devils and the first regular season home game against Buffalo, with pregame coverage.

  27. eddie eddie eddie on

    every year i watch as much of the 9/11 coverage as i can……i sit glued to the TV…..i have even seen a european cut where many of the “jumpers” were filmed…….it is still shocking and terribly moving……so sad and for what?…..byfuglien azzens……complete pieces of carcillo……

  28. Thanks, Carp. Not sure I can stay late tonight, it’ll be 1 am for Go Time. We are enjoying the trip, moved up North today for a couple of days before driving South to Red Sea. We will finish it with one week stay in Jerusalem. It’s been a long and emotional day for us.

  29. Went to church earlier.. the songs during communion were ‘Do Not Be Afraid’, “Let there be Peace on Earth’ and “The Prayer of St Francis’. Needless to say, after watching the coverage this morning, I was a sobbing emotional mess.

  30. VH1 is airing ‘The Concert for NYC’, the one at the Garden in late October of that year, right now through 10p EST, commercial free. I recall watching this when it first aired and being struck at all these muscians and celebrities coming together without the usual complaining and dive-like attititudes. I wonder if something like that could happen today.

  31. Wicky (Leeloo Dallas mul-ti-pass) on

    Afternoon ILB and all!

    Great job and thanks!

    I agree 100% with your statement

    All I have to say is I give my condolences to all those who lost family and friends ten years ago and to all of my friends and brothers who we have lost in ten years of war since then, thank you and I miss you. You are the true heroes (and all who are still serving over there)!!! Thank you all!!

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