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College daughter of 9/11 Victim

Submission by aMANDA Gregory

I am the daughter of Donald H. Gregory who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

On the morning of September 11th, I was getting ready for my Space Flight class at school at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Two weeks prior, I had said good-bye to my dad and family in Ramsey, NJ to start my sophmore year of college. On September 10th, I had called home to say happy birthday to my younger brother and spoke with my dad. September 11th was his third day back to work after having been home almost the entire summer recovering from triple by-pass surgery.

On the morning of September 11th, I got up to take a shower. I didn't have a TV in my room but I signed on to my computer and I had an AOL instant message on my computer from a friend who I met over the summer who didn't know my dad worked in the WTC.
All it said was:

"Did you hear about the planes hitting the WTC?"

The rest of the day is a blurr and I go in and out of memory.

I hadn't fully dressed at the time I read the message so I quickly threw on some clothes. I rushed across the hall to my friends' dorm room suite where they had a large screen TV. It was still early in the morning, and no one was up. I frantically tried to turn on the TV myself but my hands were shaking and my eyes were already pouring with tears; I was already desperate and hysterical and I didn't even know how bad it was. I went to pound on my friend's bedroom door to have him help me with the TV. The rest of his suite mates came out as soon as they heard me crying... They turned on the TV...

I fell to my knees and started to scream:

"Daddy! Daddy! No! No! No!"

I saw smoke rising from the window where I knew he worked. As a child, I was so proud that I could point out to all my friends where my dad worked in the World Trade Center from our town of Ramsey, NJ. He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and his office was on the 104th floor in the north tower, right around where the darker strip of windows was at the top.

I was told years later that my screams were heard down the hall. My resident advisor (RA) heard my screams and came to the dorm to bring me down to the Counseling Center so I could be put in touch with my mom. I remember the walk across campus... I maintained my compsure but I was screaming inside. When I got to the counseling center, I don't know if my mom called my school or my school called my mom, but I got to talk to my mom. My mom was worried about me because I had asthma at the time. I begged her to tell me where dad was to call me as soon as he called.

My dad was working in the World Trade Center during the 1993 attacks. I remember coming home from school and my mom running out to us saying "Dad's okay". I didn't know the buildings had been bombed, but my brother saw my dad on TV before he even had a chance to call. He walked down 104 flights of stairs and was coverd in soot. I remember for years afterwards, him retell the story of what the attacks were like, giving his soaked paper towels to pregnant women on the stairs, and the nightmares he had of the buildings falling.

I begged the counseling center to put a TV on so I could watch to see my father walk out of the building. I don't remember what I watched, but I remember praying and begging God to save my dad. I remember wanting to be there with him, I wanted to be right in the building with him so I could help him. I was so far away. I remember calling my mom every couple minutes to see if my dad had called even though she kept promising me that I would be the first call.

The TV in the counseling center was poor so I was taken back to my RA's dorm to watch the TVs. This is essentially where I blacked out. I was told six years after the attack that I watched the buildings fall but I have no memory of it. All I remember is waking up in my dorm room later on in the day. For years I thought I was given a sedatitve to relax me because for me that was the only explanation for the blackout and why I couldn't remember any of the most traumatic moments of my life. I've never been able to recollect or remember what happened or what I saw. I remember seeing the attacks on TV for what I thought was the first time several months later.

When I woke up in my dorm room, there were a couple close friends in the room with me and many friends and counselers outside in my suite. I remember one of the first things my friend told me was:

"We are going to war and people are cheering in the middle east."

I was alone with no family, only friends, at college. My aunt drove across Florida to be with me. My mom called at some point that first day or the second day to tell me that things were crazy in New York and the hospitals are trying to locate people. My dad still had not called but I still believed we would find him. The decision was made that my aunt would drive me home to NJ since no flights were operational at the time and I was too hysterical to be getting on a plane.

I remember portions of the drive up. I was already experiencing signs of post-traumtic stress with flash backs. I kept having visions of my dad, laying dead underneath his desk and planes crashing into the building. We stopped overnight along the way. This is when I called my mom and asked "When are they going to go up and get daddy?" My mom expalined to me:

"Hun, the buildings are gone. They're gone, Amanda. They're gone."

This is when I knew my dad had been killed and I would never see him again and we would never get that call. My aunt held me as I cried and screamed out:

"Daddy, no!"

The next day, I walked into my house in New Jersey. Our family priest was in the room and my mom, sister and brother came and we all embraced each other and cried. This was when it truly hit me that our happy family of five was now four. Our priest came over and prayed over us.

My dad's body was found a month later and we burried his remains on October 27th.

I was there too

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