There is a dull persistent pain in Micheal Fineo’s voice as he shared his memories of Sept. 11 on Tuesday.
Fineo said talking to students at FIU was a wonderful way to take part in the 10th anniversary of the attacks, in honor of those who lost their lives.
“I worked in the north tower, 1 World Trade Center. That was the first tower to be hit,” recalled Fineo, who was working at a brokerage firm on the 25th floor.
He said this anniversary will be very difficult for him.
“I suffer with a lot of survivor guilt, that's my biggest agony. I lost a lot of friends. We were the same age - young dads, newlyweds. And I just never came to terms with why I survived while so many others lost their lives."
You could hear a pin drop as a group of FIU students listened intently to Fineo talked about his experiences. Most were in elementary or middle school when it happened.
“We've all probably seen it on the news the day it happened. Since then we've seen it on magazine covers. But it's so different to hear somebody who was actually there just talk about what it was like,” said 20-year-old Dayana Iglesias.
“It was surreal. The only way to describe it was your mind couldn't comprehend what your eyes were seeing,” said Fineo.
Ten years later, the images still haunt him.
“People were jumping. People were holding hands jumping. That was probably the most disturbing. We're not supposed to see things like that. I remember seeing a man completely engulfed in flames."
Fineo’s wife Roxanne listened as her husband talked to the students. Once he got to safety that day, it was hours before he was able to reach her.
“When I was finally able to get through to her, we couldn’t even speak to each other...She knew it was me. We couldn't even talk, so we cried to each other on the phone,” Fineo said.
Fineo, his wife and their three children moved away from New York City two years ago. They now live in Clearwater, and that’s where they will be on Sunday during the memorial services marking the attacks' 10th anniversary.