A television producer spoke about the heartbreaking day he spent at the World Trade Center just hours before 9/11.
John Barra, who was working for the New Jersey public broadcaster at the time, narrowly escaped attack after making a last-minute decision to postpone an interview.
On September 10, 2001, Barra drove to New York City with his production team after completing a story at Newark Airport.
He was scheduled to stop by the World Trade Center the next day to tell a different story, but had to reschedule due to scheduling constraints.
The weather was beautiful and he remembers somehow driving into town without running into traffic.
The interview went well and he and the other crew members went to the top floor to shoot B-roll footage.
They captured some of the final moments as the Twin Towers remained standing.
“We met a lot of people on the same floor where the second plane hit the next day,” he told The US Sun exclusively.
More than two decades after the attack, he wonders how many employees he met who didn’t make it out alive the next day.
One interaction that caught his eye occurred at the front door of the complex.
“I would say the most emotional part for me was when we parked down at the Trade Center on 10th,” he said.
“We were talking to one of the guards about the Trade Center bombing ten years ago and the woman said, ‘This building can survive anything.'”
“ART IN TRAGEDY”
John was on his way to work when the first plane crashed into the North Tower at 8:46 a.m.
“The day was completely chaotic. I honestly don’t remember where it went or what I did,” he said.
One moment John remembers was a concerned phone call from his parents.
He hadn’t told him his interview had been postponed, so they feared he might be one of the thousands caught in the fire.
After the impact, the phones initially went out, so residents scrambled to call their loved ones when there was radio silence.
“They were convinced that I was in it, that I had completely disappeared,” he said.
While he contacted his family to ensure he was safe, other members of his television crew rushed to the scene and took videos of the aftermath.
John shared that he felt devastated by the decision to join them or stay in New Jersey.
“I was torn between my job as a producer and my existence as a human being,” he said, noting that he had no idea if the rush was over.
Despite his personal struggles, John remembers the sense of duty that came over media professionals as he watched their work behind the screen.
“As strange as it may sound, it was art in the midst of tragedy,” he said.
“The footage was just tragically beautiful because when you really look at some of the resulting photos, it really shows the impact of what was happening in that moment.”
Every year on September 11th, John reaches out to members of his television crew to remember their experiences and honor those who died.
When asked what happened to the footage from that day, he said it was all sent to the FBI just in case it could help identify the victims.
John also records the memory of the exact ticket he was handed when he entered the Trade Center on September 10th.
Nearly 3,000 people died in the attack, and many people chose to take their own lives by throwing themselves out of skyscraper windows.
Firefighters and other emergency responders spent more than 24 hours searching through the rubble looking for survivors.
Although the scars of the day are still painful, John holds life-changing lessons about how the aftermath was dealt with.
He said New Yorkers demonstrated their resilience and strength by coming together and rebuilding the city.
The nation was connected in a way it had never been before or since.
As the tragic day of remembrance approaches again, he hopes people can read his story and realize they have the strength to persevere.
“You go through a lot of darkness and pain, but you figure out how to move forward,” he said.
“One of the most powerful moments was seeing people’s ability to rebuild and carry on.”