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November 11, 2001

Copied From The New Jersey FREEMASON
December 2001 Issue

By Brother Steve D'Angelo
Highland Park Lodge #240 F. & A.M.

I had arrived in my office in 1 World Financial Center (across from the World Trade Center) at about 8:40 a.m., purchased my usual cup of coffee and entered the building. As I rode the escalator to the main lobby, I felt the ground shudder, but heard nothing. People were running into the building, literaily falling over each other, screaming about a bomb.

In the confusion I noticed one of my employees standing - trembling - numb - with no idea what to do or where to go.

I could now see a fire in the upper floors of 1WTC. I proceeded to my office and brought the employee along. I had no idea what was going on, but could not let her stay alone in the lobby in that condition.

Knowing the media town NYC is, I called home as soon as I walked in to see what the news reports were saying. My wife informed me that a plane had hit the tower.

As I hung up, I heard screams from the employees reacting to the sight of numerous people leaping to their deaths from the tower. How HORRIBLE to watch this. I asked to please leave the windows, and begin closing blinds to hide the hideousness developing outside.

As I was doing so I heard what sounded like an incoming missile and saw the second tower erupt in a ball of flame!!! It was at that point that I realized that New York was under attack – and I was less then 200 yards away from ground zero!!!

My boss and I did not wait for the official word. We immediately evacuated the employees. We scrambled down 25 stories and ended up between the towers and the river. The initial reports were that the Stock Market was going to open at 10:00 a.m. As we are a brokerage firm, we had to be ready for business if the market opened. We owed it to our clients to ensure they were never out of the market – at least that's what we kept saying to ourselves as we remained close to our offices in case we had to return.

The South Tower begin to collapse. I told my staff, who I never allowed to leave my side, to retreat behind another building that was just north and west of the tower, thinking the river on one side and the building on the other would protect us. As we headed over, I looked back to see what was happening, and saw the cloud of debris and dust behind us, gaining VERY fast. We ran the last 20 yards, turning the corner, and beat the cloud by three steps.

I watched in awe as the remains of the tower flew past us directly into the river. No one in my party was touched or even dirtied by the event. People behind us emerged covered in soot, bleeding, injured. Many others that I know were behind us never turned the corner.

We walked north into the wind hoping it would keep the ash and dust and everything else in that cloud away from us, picking up several other employees of the firm as we moved. We watched the second tower collapse from Canal Street.

When I could finally get through on my cell phone, I called home, assured my wife I was fine and asked her to make calls to the families of those with me to let them know the same. It took seven hours for me to get home that night, dropping employees off along the way.

The amazing thing to me was that all during this surreal event, I never feared for myself. All my thoughts were concentrated on three things; 1 – Thanking the Almighty that my wife and children were in New Jersey, and not subjected to this; 2-- Ensuring that the young people in my charge who were entrusting their lives to my judgment got home safely; 3 – That I had enough insurance to pay for my children's college.

I was extremely relieved and grateful when I walked into my home that night, tired, sweaty, but uninjured and with no visible sign that I had walked through hell that day.

Since that event, my fellow employees and I have worked 14 hour days to ensure the firm was up and running, and Monday's market open would find Fidelity ready for business. We have accomplished that.

Now for the first time I can breath a deep breath and face my own emotions over the encounter. The emotion is RAGE!!! Not fear, not anxiety or sadness, just pure, almost maniacal rage. I know that President Bush will avenge this action. I trust him to do all that can be done to rid mankind of the scourge of terrorism. . . .

Thank you for reading this. Writing it has been therapeutic for me.

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