Monday, September 11, 2006

Five


I used to work on the 90th floor of Tower 2 in the World Trade Center.

The time was 1994. It was about 6 months or so after the first failed attack on the towers.
I remember my mother at the time, freaking out about me going on that first interview, saying “That building isn’t safe! What if those bastards decide to try and blow it up again?”

I carried her concerns with me as I went on the interview. Any concerns that I DID have, however, left me as soon as I walked inside the building.

For months after the '93 attack, the security inside the Trade Center was mind-numbing; Police, guard dogs, photo-ids, multiple drivers license checks, and all of this before I could even enter the first floor elevator!!

After the interview, I went home that night seeing any fears I had about working in that building washed away. It felt like Fort Knox to me. It felt like the safest building in the world.

Who could have known?

Who would ever consider that people would use commercial airliners as weapons and try to bring the towers down from the sky? Such an idea would have seemed unfathomable to me back then.

Remarkably, it still does.

What people not from the greater NY/Long Island area need to understand about the World Trade Center is just what a major hub of commerce and employment it was for us here. I am not exaggerating when I say that there is literally no one who lives in this area who hasn’t worked in the Trade Center, or knew someone who did. We ALL know people who died in those buildings. All of us.

Simply put, for everyone here, the World Trade Center was a huge part of our lives.
Luckily for myself, I had moved on to other employment by the time the tragic events of 9/11 struck, but I have friends and family that were working there that day. I lost friends that day too. Everyone around here did.

My friend Scott Bart had just gotten married a few months before 9/11. He was young. He was happy. He had his whole life in front of him. He never made it out of that building that day. Sometimes I go to his company’s memorial website and just sit and cry at the insane, needless loss that all those names on those memorial web pages convey.

Such a staggering loss, and at the same time, just one story, among thousands.

I have a family member who worked on the 50th floor of Tower 1. After reaching the 10th floor during his evacuation, he decided to help a group of EMS workers that were heading back up to help the wounded. Upon reaching the 40th floor, he happened upon his ex-wife, also working in the trade center. She dragged him away from the EMS workers and told them that they would need to find someone else to help them.

The building began to fall as they were leaving the main lobby. They ran for their lives across the street, and into Battery Park. We didn’t hear from him until 3:00 that afternoon, by which time I was sure he was dead.

He still wont talk about what he saw that day, and I have learned to no longer ask.

I simply cannot believe it has been 5 years since the place that had at one time been such a central part of my life came crashing down, changing the world forever.

It doesn’t feel like 5 years.

And it shouldn’t. Not ever.

We should, each and every one of us, keep the memory of that day alive in our hearts and souls for whatever time we have left in this world. We should remember the horror of it, but also remember proudly that, throughout it all, that day helped bring out the absolute best in so many of us. It was a day that tested the mettle of many, and few were found lacking.

Say a prayer tonight for the children and families who’s lives were forever shattered five years ago today.

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