Student’s Uncles Near WTC

WCU freshman Mike Paolini, of New York, was awakened September 11 by his roommate who said a plane had just struck the World Trade Center.

“I didn’t believe him,” said Paolini. “But my roommates kept me up, and I continued to watch the news and saw the second plane hit the Second World Trade Center, and then the buildings crumbled.

“My first thoughts were that my uncles are dead, and I dreaded getting the phone calls.”

James Pappas, a stockbroker at the American Stock Exchange and Daniel Burke, an electrician in New York, are Paolini’s uncles and were working near ground zero at the time of the attacks.

“My mom called within 20 minutes and said they hadn’t heard from my uncles,” said Paolini.

Like many Americans, Paolini did not automatically realize the nature of what happened.

“I thought the first plane was just a dumb ass that didn’t know what he was doing,” said Paolini. “When I saw the second plane hit, I knew it was terrorism.”

Paolini said he spoke with his uncles a day or two after the attacks and they described the chaos on the streets of New York.

Pappas was inside the American Stock Exchange during the attacks, according to Paolini, but he and one of his partners ignored orders to stay in the building, exited the building, and ran uptown about 20 or 30 blocks.

“My uncle said that while he was running away, he could hear people screaming because there were spider planes in the sky and people thought they were going to be killed,” said Paolini.

Paolini said Burke and his partner were right outside the American Stock Exchange, saw the first plane strike the 1st World Trade Center and didn’t know what to think.

“When the second plane hit, they got into their van and took FDR Drive to go as far upstate as possible,” said Paolini.

Both Pappas and Burke are angry, but more upset than angry, according to Paolini.

“They’re angry with Afghanistan,” said Paolini. “They’re angry at the fact that terrorism is the only way these people are willing to fight.”

Paolini said he believes justice can be served through war, and he agrees with President Bush’s plan.

“I voted for Bush because I knew that if something like this ever happened, he would be the one to take charge and actually do something about it,” said Paolini.

Paolini added that New Yorkers do not act uncivilized during trying times and that people have the wrong perception of New Yorkers.

“People think New Yorkers are assholes,” said Paolini. “They should understand that during times like this, New Yorkers come together. New Yorkers look out for each other.”