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    • I was there, in a conference room near the World Trade Center with big glass windows. One guy noticed smoke coming from the first tower and said his aunt was on the 104th floor. We all went to the windows to look. It was a front-row seat of something horrible.

      A plane appeared on the horizon, flying low and slow. One woman said, "look, a plane coming to help." I guess she meant it would drop fire retardant on it. We went quiet. Then someone pointed out it was a passenger plane. We didn't know what that meant.

      When it flew into the other tower, I decided this was one of my weird, vivid dreams and I needed to wake up. But in the very unlikely event it was actually real, I ran out of the building and to side streets that I thought would be less of a target. And I struggled to wake up but couldn't.

      I eventually made my way to where the main avenue leading to the site was blocked off and CNN had a huge truck with a journalist on top doing a live feed. Tower 7 was burning and they were telling us it would collapse. In a strange way, I wanted to witness that.

      A policeman walked up to me and asked if I would be willing to volunteer. He led me and another couple to the triage center, where they had gathered 4,000 body bags. I assumed that would be my job, to help carry them. I had seen the bodies falling from the sky and that's how I knew I was in a dream for sure. That couldn't happen except in a cheap disaster movie.

      The scale. You have no idea by looking at a TV screen.

      When the towers fell, that was proof positive it was absolutely a dream about a cheap disaster movie. Nothing falls that way. I even tried to compare this to other disasters like Pearl Harbor or the sinking of the Titanic. Those were plausible. This was not. Wake up, Chris, you have an important meeting in the morning.

      We had to stay in New York for 8 days before getting out on train to Philly and then back home to California. It was culture shock to get back into the world because the end of times had arrived in New York, it seemed. I couldn't believe how other people didn't grasp the magnitude of what happened unless they were there. At first I was angry at them. Now I wonder if vets feel the same way about their experience in Iraq and Vietnam as I felt then.