Where were you Marie-Caroline?

I graduated from St. John’s in May. Originally I am from Germany and when 9/11 happened I was still enrolled at a small university in Frankfurt. The day had started fairly ordinarily, until a friend called me to let me know that something terrible was going on in New York and that the Twin Towers were burning.

I remember that I switched on the television and immediately put on CNN shortly before the first tower went down. I then saw the tower disappearing in a cloud of rubble and dust. I clearly remember the voice of the journalist who had his back to the scene, shouting out, while turning around, “I can’t see the second tower, I can’t see the second tower.” It was a voice of pure panic and shock and the shock translated to us, so many miles away.

I had classes later that day and my friends and I were sitting in the library of the university, normally a hall of peace and quiet, talking and exclaiming and trying to get the latest news. Although Germany is very far away from New York and Washington, D.C. the events we were witnessing were very real to us.

Frankfurt is next to Berlin, one of the most important cities in Germany, and has some moderate high rise buildings throughout the cities; there was a sense of real fear in the city.
Classes were cancelled for the day, but the professors were still around. They talked to us about the situation, but to see their helplessness was even more frightening than dealing with our own. Later that day I drove to the home of a friend who had family in New York; I just wanted to be with her and talk to her, help her get through the night. That was the first of many nights to follow when we would just sit together and talk about our families and friends and about our fears.

At the time, I had one friend in New York. I did not know of his fate for more than a week and I remember that I did not want to call his parents, who live in Germany, because I was afraid; afraid that he might me dead. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending; my friend survived, albeit just barely and is today my husband.

Marie-Caroline married her 9/11 survivor in June 2005. They continue to live in New York City.