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9/11: The 73 minutes that changed my life


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Author Topic: 9/11: The 73 minutes that changed my life  (Read 1640 times)
Crystal Thielkien
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« on: September 11, 2011, 07:58:41 pm »

"I walked a short distance to Church Street where the towers were and that's when I saw the North Tower for the first time. I was dumbstruck. It was hard to comprehend what I was seeing.

"There was a huge black hole, the flames were bright orange and the smoke was billowing out of the tower."

More people were arriving on the streets, he says, and sirens could be heard in the background. As his recollections become more vivid, the 58-year-old closes his eyes and rocks back and forth in his orange armchair, his right foot tapping the carpet vigorously.

His rented apartment is full of reminders of what he went through. A photo of the World Trade Center is on the fridge, and other photographs featuring the famous Manhattan skyline adorn the living room, like pictures of a deceased member of the family.
Fridge door in Van Why's home Reminders of the life left behind fill his apartment

One wall is full of framed newspaper cuttings, reviews of the play that Van Why - a former actor - wrote and performed about 9/11. And in front of this shrine, he sits and recalls the minutes that reshaped his life, wild hand gestures making the scene all the more real.

"I don't know how long I was looking at the North Tower, trying to take it all in. I was transfixed. What broke it was when I realised there were other things falling, there were people falling and everyone realised at the same time.

"People started screaming and my reaction was to scream 'No, No, No!' at the thought that people were falling down. And that's when - I don't know why I reacted in this way - but my instinct was to run towards them.
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    I remember shouting out 'God, save us all!”

"I ran to the plaza where they were falling. I didn't have a moment's thought, I just ran towards the tower, thinking 'Can I help these people?' I imagined them laying there and the thought of being able to hold their hand or sit and be with them, comfort them."
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