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Reflections of a 911 Survivor
Steve Naidamast

I was in World Trade Center building #5 when the first tower was hit, and being the tower's annex we took the full force of the after-effects of the impact. To this day I cannot describe to anyone the sounds I heard or why none of us on the floor reacted to the first after-shock. I can only guess that as New Yorkers we have become inured to anything - but even so you could feel a sudden uneasiness in the air among the 250 or so technicians and brokers on the floor.

Exactly three minutes later the second after-shock tremored through our building, and then suddenly someone yelled that the scaffolding was coming off the building. Terror overwhelmed us as we ran for our lives, and the only thing I could think of was the building was suddenly coming apart and I wasn't going to make it to the first floor alive. Since we couldn't see what caused the shocks, most silently believed they had finally done it... someone had dropped the "bomb".

Making it to ground, I quickly started to run across the adjoining street, only to look around and notice an eerie sense of calm. I suddenly felt like I was in a carnival of the surreal as people lazily walked by and crowded together further up to look at my tower.

By the time I had reached some safety (or what I thought was safety), all I could hear from people was that a plane hit the tower... and yet no one seemed overly concerned. Wall Street had gone into mass shock...

I finally turned around and looked upwards at the south tower but couldn't see anything but massive billows of gray-black smoke... and so close it was as if I could reach out and pass my hand through it. The massive swirls covered the gaping 30-story wound I would see later as I walked northwards escaping to my mid-town office. My heart wouldn't stop pounding for 6 hours... it was a day I believed I wasn't going to live through.

That night after meeting up with a family friend, I remember sharing dinner with her and another colleague in our traumatized city. Despite suffering the effects of the day (and would do so for months after), something stuck in my gut that all was not right. Something was not as it should be. I never completely believed in those early days of this tragedy that it was just a matter of a simple attack on American society. It turns out it wasn't.

Since that day, I have studied everything I could find to understand what happened. The compendium of information that I and a fellow historian have dug up over the months all points to a "coup d'etat" by the GOP of our democratic process. The specter of Nazi Germany suddenly reared its ugly face in the United States of America in 2001, over 50 years later.

Americans since this country's inception have made a pact with the Devil: that business was more important than ideals and national honor, that materialism was more important than traditional cultural values, that the Constitution was simply a play-thing for lawyers to bend to their clients' self-interest and personal agenda.

Civic responsibility - from the vantage point of understanding our national heritage and ideals and involving ourselves in public and private discourse for our own involvement and in-depth understanding - was left to reckless journalism which was eventually overtaken by technology to be turned into minute specs of irrelevant information. Americans are now paying a price for their ignorance and irresponsibility towards themselves, let alone the world around us that so many arrogantly viewed as unimportant.

If the people of this country don't finally understand that politics and leadership is everyone's concern, and that honor is something that is practiced not just preached, then what awaits this nation is deeply disturbing.

There is a shadow over this land... It took millions of lives to destroy the last such shadow. What is getting rid of this one going to cost???