On this day twenty years ago, the world was shaken by unprecedented terrorist attacks that would forever leave an imprint of sorrow and grief on the lives of the survivors, witnesses, and those who lost their loved ones, in the tragedy that would be known as 9/11.
Reports of the 9/11 attacks came as a shock to millions of people across the world, including those who were at that time in the air, like Alexander Shedrinsky, a Long Island University professor and consultant at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
News of the attack found Shedrinsky above Greenland, when a stewardess asked if anyone could translate from English to Russian. Shedrinsky volunteered to translate a message from the pilot, who relayed the news to the passengers.
“And having translated all that text, I suddenly realized what exactly I was translating. That was something,” Shedrinsky told Sputnik, adding that hysteria took over the plane as “people started bawling because, as it turned out, many had had someone who worked in those towers.”
Shedrinsky noted the quick response by the stewardesses, who rolled carts with alcohol through the aisles, offering people a drink to calm them down.
“And I, not a drinker, said that I would like cognac when they rolled the cart to me. When they asked how much, I said — up to the brim. The pilot said that we were turning back, [that] the US airspace was shut down,” Shedrinsky added.
The professor was able to get to New York City, where he had a wife and a child, only on September 30, a month after the tragedy.
A Wave Was Sweeping Everything
A more devastating picture was seen by those who were in the proximity of the tragedy, such as Dmitry Lisovetsky, who was working near the site. He explained that he was about three kilometers away from the Twin Towers.
“We noticed that planes were flying and crashing into the towers, the first one, then the second. Nobody understood anything,” he told Sputnik.
He recalled a cloud of dust, like after a huge explosion, and saw police officers who were all white from the dust carpeting the scene. He immediately got into his car and started to leave. He saw many running away as the panic spread.
“The wave swept away everything in its path, we ran away, it was approaching,” he recalled.