Do you remember where you were?
I certainly remember where I was.
At the time I was working as a network engineer for the Information Technology department in one of Manchester’s hospitals. I remember being in the office when one of the operations center folks came into our office area and said, “you’re not gonna believe it! A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center!” My initial response was, “uh huh. You’re kidding, right?” And I was met with silence.
Needless to say, that got my attention. I walked into the conference room where there was a television. It was tuned to CNN, and I watched briefly to see if I could get a look at some of the coverage and find out what was going on. It was at that moment that the second plane crashed into the other tower.
I remember being stunned. I remember being horrified. And I remember becoming really angry as the day went on.
Even now, when I think about what happened that day, I get upset. But I also remember that there was a great deal of behavior that, in spite of the nasty, cowardly, evil act that was inflicted on so many innocent people, was simply heroic and instrumental in saving many lives. There were people like Gerry Dewan, a New York City Firefighter. He was on Ladder 3 that day. The whole company was lost in the collapse, while they were doing their job, actively conducting rescue operations. I didn’t know him, but his nephew Mike is a dear friend of mine. It is incredibly personal for him. And I know he honors Gerry in everything he does.
Or Rick Rescorla, the chief of security for the investment firm Morgan Stanley. He had nothing to prove to anyone; he was a retired, highly decorated Army infantry officer who had served both his native England as well as the United States. And he was instrumental in getting approximately 2500 people out of both towers before losing his own life.
Or Fr. Mychal Judge, the Catholic priest who was an FDNY Chaplain, ministering to all of those affected on the scene. He was killed when debris from the building which was falling landed on him, crushing him. The firefighters who found his body carried him back to his church and laid him down in front of the altar.
These are only a few examples of people who set an example with the actions they took that day. There were so many others who behaved in a similar manner. Too many to name. All heroes.
The total loss of life in New York that day was approximately 2700, including 343 responders. That doesn’t include the casualties at the Pentagon or the heroic actions on board Flight 93 which caused that aircraft to go down.
I for one will never, ever forget the events of September 11, 2001, and how it changed the world we live in. My feeling is that the vast majority of people who witnessed the events of that day, directly or otherwise, are affected in the same way.