Looking back at the horrors of 9/11

Posted: 8:00 PM EDT Sep 11, 2012   Updated: 11:50 PM EDT Sep 11, 2012

Eleven years later we are forever changed by the horrors that happened on September 11, 2001. Many of us remember the exact time and place we were when we learned the country was under attack by terrorists.

Carl Geffken is the Chief Operating Officer of Berks County, but back then he was working in New York's Department of Investigation in Manhattan and Tuesday he shared his memories from that day.

The Reading Fire Department held its annual remembrance of September 11, 2001 in City Park. It was a moment people stopped and remembered.

And Carl Geffken, Berks County's Chief Operating officer did the same.

"It was a day just like today, clear blue sky, cool in the morning," said Geffken.

But that beauty was destroyed by terrorists.

"As I looked up there was the tail end of the plane coming into the building," said Geffken.

Geffken worked in Manhattan for New York's Department of Investigation blocks away from the World Trade Center towers. He said about 300 people were in his department.

"Nobody knew at 9:59 the first building was going to fall," said Geffken.

And when it did people in his department were told to evacuate.

"I instructed my staff to bring down some water bottles, cloth and asked the men who were there to take off their t-shirts to rip them off so they can wet the cloth and put them in front of their noses and leave," said Geffken.

The timeline of events is etched in all of our minds and after the second tower fell he felt it.

"It was a violent vibration and then shortly after the dust hit the windows and you could not see," said Geffken.

When he left the island he saw the masses of people on foot.

"It was like a sea of refugees, you would see fleeing a war zone," said Geffken.

It took some time to digest what he witnessed.

"I felt safe and all of the emotions hit," said Geffken, "The adrenaline had stopped and it was just a huge well of emotion."

And he said a ceremony like this one reminds us of that overwhelming sadness.

"As the whole country," said Geffken, "It's something we'll never forget."