Glenn Carrano remembers what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.
He remembers the sights. The sounds. The smoke.
He remembers seeing hundreds of thousands of his fellow New Yorkers fleeing the World Trade Center after two passenger planes struck the towers.
Carrano, a retired member of the United States Coast Guard, was on duty in New York City on 9-11, and shared his memories of that day during North Attleborough’s memorial service held on Monday, Sept. 11.
“I want to salute those that made the ultimate sacrifice,” Carrano said, not only those who died that day, but the many who died from cancer and other diseases related to the attacks.
On that day, Carrano said he was in the District Attorney’s office in White Plains. He was in his office when someone told him the towers had been hit. Later, he recalled seeing people jumping from the towers and mistaking them for pieces of the buildings because of how slowly they fell.
“As we watched, we saw the second plane go over our heads,” he told the crowd on Baptist Common. “You could reach out and touch it—it was that close. We watched in shock as the plane went right over our heads, made the bank (turn) and went to the second tower.”
Carrano said his timeline of what happened is jumbled, but one thing that stands out are the massive crowds trying to leave the area. He said there had to be 1 million people in Battery Park, where he was stationed. When military planes flew overhead, many panicked, thinking it was a second attack.
“I couldn’t even explain the panic and the chaos that ensued,” he said. “Think of a horror movie where people were running like crazy. I guess anywhere was better than there at that point.”
North Attleborough Police Chief Richard McQuade said it was hard to believe that 22 years have passed since that day. He added that some of the officers and firefighters being hired today were infants or not even born when 9-11 happened.
“The youngest now in service to this community and this country will have no memories of Sept. 11, 2001, but remembrance ceremonies such as this will ensure that those that were lost will never be forgotten,” McQuade said.
Fire Chief Christopher Coleman said that today is a day “we want to pause, remember and observe.” He spoke of the tolling of the bell, a tradition in the fire service to mark the beginning or end of a shift, the completion of a call, or to recognize when one in the service has passed away.
In recent years, Carrano has volunteered at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and encouraged those at the service to visit it to hear from first responders who were there. One thing he said he has learned from the museum is that a way to remember what happened is by hearing the stories from that day.
“We all saw the horrors of that day,” Carrano said. “If we stay united, nothing stops us.”