On September 11, 2001, I worked for a quasi-government organization in Northeast Ohio. We were the only officially occupied location in a 5 mile radius when Flight 93 was in CLE’s air traffic control area. We also happened to be the site of one the MANY successes resulting from the events of that morning. One of our team leads had gone to DC for a meeting a few days before 9/11. After the destruction of the towers and the subsequent nationwide air traffic stoppage, he was stranded in DC. There were no flights, every train and bus seat was booked, and there were no rental cars to be found anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard.
Jack had been gone from his family for many days, through one of the most spectacular terrorist attacks in history, and he was really wanting badly to be home with his family. We, being a large group of problem solvers, were racking our brains until one of the guys had a stroke of genius… “I bet he could rent a moving truck!” Jack dropped off our conference call and called back 10 minutes later, having rented a 24 foot Uhaul truck on his company Amex. 14 hours later, he was home with his family, and an organizational legend was born.
9/11 was a colossal failure… For the terrorists who attempted to tear the heart out of our country. The most accepted number of people inside 1WTC and 2WTC on 9/11/01 is 25,000 people. 2603 souls were lost directly as a result of the actual WTC attacks and 24 more people are still listed as missing. Only roughly 10% of the people at WTC perished. 8 in 10 walked away and went home.
Personally, 5 people I know were at WTC during the attack, including my ex-wife’s brother. None perished.
2 men I know who are firefighters were in NYC within 14 hours of the attack, doing volunteer work. One now suffers from Post WTC Lung Disease, and still doesn’t regret having gone.
A lady I know who trains search and rescue dogs had her team at the site 11 hours after the attack. It is a 13 hour drive from where she lives to the WTC site under ideal circumstances.
I remember standing at the corner of East 9th Street and Superior Avenue a few days after the attack watching a convoy of fire, construction, law enforcement and city vehicles leaving for New York, the streets lined with people waving flags and cheering for them.
I remember people standing in line for hours to donate blood… Firemen’s boots filled to the brim with money from people having dumped change or cash into them at street corners.
Yes, I remember seeing the towers collapse in real time… But those images are fading, while the ones in my mind above are not.
Of course, the anger still burns, but the pride burns stronger.
Tomorrow, please drive with your headlights on any time you are in your vehicle and fly your flag! (No matter what country you are in!)
8/29/11 – The anger has cooled.. but the memories are still vivid.