The Nation's Pulse

The Sounds of Silence

Of all the terror visited by what we now call Nine-Eleven this was perhaps the worst.

By 9.14.09

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From the torn bowels of Manhattan there issued a thundering scream of pain and schock, repeated at the Pentagon and in a field in Pennsylvania. The sounds of September 11, 2001. They echoed through the afternoon and night.

But for some, a few, the infamous date lives on in silence. No Movement.

The parking lot at the train station in Madison, New Jersey. Repeated in similar lots up and down the commuter line. Nothing. But something terrible, silently wrong. They were still there, that night, the next day, and even the next. Automobiles. Many new. All empty. Driverless. Just -- there.

They stood mutely testifying to horror for families headed by those missing drivers. It would be days before they began to disappear. Because it would be days before certainty of the fact that those drivers would not be returning to claim them, to drive them home to late suppers, to ball practices, to greetings at doorways.

Of all the terror visited by what we now call Nine-Eleven this was perhaps the worst; the cars that did not move from what had been a morning of buying papers, checking briefcases, weather forecasts.

Fellow townsfolk would read of the fate of the drivers, the hundreds of them. But they would never really know, know the details, Just as the empty doorways of dozens of houses would never truly know. But they told the story in a grevious way. Empty cars, filling a lot, refusing to move.

Testimony to terror. The sounds of silence.

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About the Author

Reid Collins is a former CBS and CNN news correspondent.