I was leaving an office in West Palm Beach, FL at about 9:15 a.m. on September 11, 2001 when I suddenly heard the receptionist say “A plane flew into the Word Trade Center.”
“It’s terrorism” I blurted out.
I didn’t know why I said it.
I was aware that planes occasionally crashed into buildings.
Hadn’t a plane flown into the Empire State Building in 1945?
I raced home.
There would be no work today.
My sons were attending colleges in New York City on 9/11.
One was in a dormitory on Lafayette Street a short distance from the Twin Towers, the other was at another college, several miles north.
I heard from one at 9:45 a.m.
He related that he had been lying in bed and saw his window blinds shudder.
He ignored it, then it happened again, with more force.
He and his fellow students raced to the streets.
They were evacuated
He would not be able to return to the building for several weeks.
I called my other son. No answer. I called his friends. Silence.
My anxiety grew.
Finally by 10:30 p.m. he called.
He was a licensed emergency medial technician and had flagged a police car and ridden downtown..
“Mom,” he said, “there’s no one left to save.”
Later, I found out that my father had been driving south on the New Jersey Turnpike towards the Holland Tunnel headed towards the Twin Towers. His company had sold office furniture to the buildings’ owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and he was on his way to review the installation when he looked to his left. He had been delayed that morning or he would have been in one of the buildings.
I, too had a connection with the Twin Towers.
While in college, I had taken a summer office job with one of the trades constructing the towers. The building in which I worked was unfinished and I took proprietary interest in its daily progress.
In 2012, I traveled from Florida to New York City and reluctantly, went to the site.
Rebuilding had begun.
Part of me wanted it to remain vacant, a memorial to the nearly 3,000 killed.
Part of me knew that rebuilding was a declaration that America would not be bowed or defeated.
Now, 18 years after 9/11, the streets of Lower Manhattan are filled with new buildings and new generations.
Although travel and security have been forever impacted, our willingness to rebuild our lives following 9/11 is a statement of shared courage and common vision.