PALM HARBOR, Fla. (FOX 13) - On September 11, 2001, you most likely remember where you were as you watched one of the most devastating days of our nation’s history unfold. But for Greg Amira, who now lives in Palm Harbor, he lived it.
"I was working for Morgan Stanley, building number two World Trade Center, 73rd floor. I was on my way up to my floor when the first plane hit tower number one,” Amira recalled. "I started down the staircase of my building, and somewhere in the low teens, my building was hit."
Four planes were hijacked that devastating day, two of which crashed into the World Trade Center.
That day, nearly 3,000 lives were lost. Thousands more were injured, but alive, thanks to the heroes willing to risk it all -- Amira was one of them.
"I ran back into help. My coworkers tried to stop me," he explained. "It was eerie, I'll say."
After making it safely outside, Amira did the unthinkable. He ran back into the burning and collapsing World Trade Center.
"I saw from the lobby -- which is the shopping mall -- sparks coming through, more sparks, and then all the glass shattered -- blew out and then there were flames,” Amira recounted. “The first thought to cross my mind was, 'I'm dead.'"
Amira was one of the few to survive that collapse. As he fought his way through the rubble, still trying to see if anyone might be alive, the devastation began to sink in.
"I just stood there in awe for a second until I realized there were hundreds of people -- not one of them was alive," he said.
Amira was able to escape injured, but alive.
"I looked up and the first thing that shocked me was my building's not there, and then I looked at number one coming down and it seemed surreal,” said Amira.
That life-changing day for so many is still affecting Amira nearly 18 years later.
"I still have what they call a 9/11 cough,” said Amira. “Just a cough here and there, every single day, ever since. Every day, in one way or another, it comes to mind."
While those memories haunt him to this day, his message is simple: Never forget.
"The size and magnitude of that day -- over 3,000 people in an instant -- never again, never again," he said.
The 9/11 memorial at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens, put in place to honor the live lost and the heroes of that tragic day, means a lot to Amira and others.
This year, the Curlew Hills has added twin beams of light to their display as another symbol of remembrance as 9/11 approaches.
On Wednesday, at 10 a.m., a special memorial service will be held at Curlew Hills’ 9/11 memorial. The public is invited to attend as survivors share their stories in honor of the lives lost 18 years ago.