Beyond the News - FACT Analysis

When the twin towers of World Trade Centre collapsed

Harjap Singh Aujla

December 14

On the ill-fated morning of September 11, 2001, I was in my office in New Jersey’s State Capital of Trenton. All of a sudden my secretary Angela Degliumberto cried out loudly uttering

“Oh my God, someone has crashed into the World Trade Centre”. Her shouting was very loud.

The senior-most secretary in the office Rose Caravone could not believe it, but she also started watching the terror attack on the office television. What happened was beyond imagination. Soon every one rushed towards the television and the reality was in front of everyone. Urgent messages were flashed from the governor’s office to most of the offices. That was one day, when for a change nothing could be accomplished in the office from the morning to the closing hours.

The people were shocked and numb. Obviously there was anger all around. As the time elapsed, there were demands for retribution. After all, the self pride of the only super power of the world was severely bruised. All Americans were desperate for a decisive military response.

Only about eight months ago, America had sworn in a new president after a bitterly divisive election process. Half of the nation was not reconciled to the legitimacy of the election of the new president George W. Bush Junior. But on that ill fated day known as 9/11, America became one nation under the God. That was a blessing in disguise. A shell shocked badly fragmented nation became one political monolith. Suddenly George W. Bush got America’s approval.

This vicious act of terror eventually led to American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I was also badly hurt by the events of 9/11. I too had a desire to contribute my own two cents for helping America in my own humble way. One of the impacts of the plane attack was the coming down of one of America’s tallest and the biggest radio and television towers standing at approximately 1750 feet above the mean sea level. It was standing majestically on top of one of
America’s tallest and grandest twin buildings. The financial loss was worth billions of dollars, but the loss of self respect was priceless. All of New York’s premier television and FM radio channels with a range of seventy miles plus were decimated within minutes.

Among those were the most powerful very high frequency (VHF) television channels, including channels 4, 5, 7, 9 and 11. In addition more than a dozen ultra high frequency (UHF) television channels went off the air. Those killed were about three thousand persons, some serving in very senior Wall Street positions. All perished in a matter of minutes. A lot more lost limbs and some lost mental equilibrium. Every minute more and more depressing news was being shared on radio and TV.

I wanted to be of some help to America. Although I am a civil engineer with expertise in hydraulics and hydrology, but my interests include long range sound and picture propagation too. I thought of the highest mountain peak in New Jersey within High Point State Park some thirty miles, as the crow flies, from Manhattan as my center of attention. This peak is standing
approximately 1800 feet above the mean sea level. There is a war veterans monument built on the shape of an obelisk similar to the George Washington Monument in Washington D.C. on top of it. This monument is also on the federal and state lists of heritage landmarks.

Once the calculations were finished, I wanted to share my concept with general public in the worst impacted tri state area. I talked to my colleagues within my department, who advised me against moving ahead with my proposal, because the High Point Monument was a federally protected historic landmark and obtaining permission for any construction within its vicinity would have been an uphill task. But like a stubborn child I was bent upon preparing and sharing my report.

The authorization to publish the proposal would have come from at least an officer of the level of a divisional director, which is somewhat equivalent to a deputy minister in an Indian state. I went straight to my director in his front office. I discussed my proposal thread bear with him. A very helpful director Greg Marshall personally liked the idea. He told me that his permission stands granted, but he also warned me that all the lovers of heritage will pounce on me and if I could have thick enough skin to bear all the abuses and rebukes, I was permitted to publish it. Another very senior officer John Garcia advised me against inviting an unnecessary
trouble. But I was adamant to take a chance.