That Tuesday morning, the 25-year-old Franco-American took the subway from his home in Queens, New York, to the offices of Société Générale, north of the island of Manhattan. An executive in finance, Charles Kergaravat began his day of September 11, 2001 in a good mood, in the heart of his open space. Before the terrible news of a plane crash at one of the World Trade Center’s twin towers reached the room.
“I remember every moment with tiny precision. Everything was going very quickly, first we thought of an accident. I immediately visualized one of our clients, who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald investment bank between the 90th and 100th floors of the South Tower. We had him on the phone every day, I had shared a business lunch with him two weeks earlier. I tried to call him … There was already no dial tone. “
His memories, “very personal and completely crazy”, of that day of the attacks perpetrated against the World Trade Center, the son of Breton expatriates still finds it difficult to share, twenty years later. Charles Kergaravat’s bank client has been unreachable forever. Like 657 other Cantor Fitzgerald employees, the executive was killed, along with 90% of the workforce, in the collapse of the towers.
Since Ploemeur (56), where the New Yorker put down his suitcases six years ago, Charles Kergaravat tells the smallest details of this horrible day, “and, in fact, unforgettable”. In a panic, the young man of the time very quickly found himself, on foot, at the bottom of his work, near the Empire State Building. “Everyone started to walk. I was lucky not to be at the bottom of town. But when we found out it was an attack, the panic won. It was feared that another tower would be hit again. No one wanted to take the metro because they were afraid of a gas attack. We didn’t have cell phones, so all the urban cabins were stormed. The hysteria was winning “.
Arriving on the Queensboro Bridge, in the midst of “a human tide,” Charles Kergaravat is stopped by a startling sight. “When I left the office, I still had my sights set on the Second North Tower. There, the two were on the ground ”.
The president of the Franco-American Friendship Association Breizh Amerika (also a member of the Gourinese association TransAmerica) further evokes the silence that has descended on the city. “The constant buzzing that I had always known suddenly stopped. You could only hear the fighter planes flying over Manhattan. “
While he lost no loved ones in the attack, Charles Kergavarat lived through the collective trauma. Commemorations, such as the one planned for Roudouallec (56), on Saturday, seem essential to him. “To say that New Yorkers have moved on would be too naive. There were nearly 3,000 deaths in the towers, more than 60,000 people died of pathologies linked to September 11 afterwards. America followed with twenty years of war in Afghanistan. We’ve never taken a plane the same way since. Surveillance is everywhere. The world remains marked with a hot iron by these events ”.
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