'We have to learn to lean on each other:’ Huntsville man, witness recalls 9/11 ahead of Honor Walk

The 18th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks is just days away. As one Huntsville group prepares to honor those who served our nation at that time, the annual walk also serves as a form of healing for those who survived.

Posted: Sep 5, 2019 6:02 PM
Updated: Sep 5, 2019 6:59 PM

The 18th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks is just days away. As one Huntsville group prepares to honor those who served our nation at that time, the annual walk also serves as a form of healing for those who survived.

"It was a regular day," said Michael Murrell. "This is difficult."

Like many others, healing for Murrell isn't easy. He's instantly flooded with emotions at the thought of reflecting on that fateful day.

"I was traveling into New York City on a commuter train because we lived just outside of New York City," he said.

He can vividly recall arriving at the World Trade Center the morning of September 11, 2001.

"Our train was the only train that was in the station and there was white smoke everywhere and we couldn't understand what was happening. (I thought) this is very strange, our train is the only train there and the smoke, and so we were all confused, but we sort of just paid it no attention because when you when you live in the metropolitan area like that, things happen all the time, and so we have a tendency just to blow things off."

Moments later, the chaos began.

"There were cops everywhere yelling, 'Get out of the building! Get out of the building!'" Murrell said.

Murrell and others made their way to the street.

"The next thing I heard was this loud boom," he said. "All of us was like, we just stopped, we were startled. Our bodies like, what was that? You know, it was so loud. It was like nothing like you ever heard before, and we were all very confused. 'What was that noise?' We kept repeating, 'What was that noise?' Then, we just turned around in the direction of the noise and we saw hundreds, thousands of people just running in our direction."

As he struggled to process what was happening, emotions overtook the city.

"Grown men and women on the streets of New York City crying. I mean tears, real tears, crying and running. Groups of people just praying in New York City this doesn't happen," Murrell said.

It was several hours before he would end up making contact with his family, calling them collect on a pay phone. His wife was eight months pregnant with their first child and away on business.

"My office was on the 34th floor," he said. "I never oversleep, ever. I overslept that morning."

He has since left the finance industry and now serves others through ministry. He and his wife are proud parents of two. Their son is now a freshman in college.

After fighting for years to keep those memories suppressed, he is just now learning to heal.

"It's hard. It's difficult remembering that time in our nation's history, but you won't be sorry if you do. It's worth it," Murrell said.

That is why walks like the one planned for this weekend are so important.

"We have to learn to lean on each other as we go through this and the other difficult times in my life. This walk is part of the process of healing, remembering. You have to remember what has happened," he said.

The 9/11 Honor Walk is set for this Sunday, September 8th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. It is free and open to the public.

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