Two 9/11 Stories – one negative, one positive

The parent company I worked with the longest before I retired lost 295 people in the first Trade Center tower to fall. Also, 63 visiting consultants to those offices perished. This terrible tragedy matches many such tragedies that day in New York, Washington and Shanksville, PA where Flight 93 was forced by its passengers to crash.

The ceremony was moving, especially when loved ones who lost people read the names then shared their own personal losses. The speakers and names they read were diverse in ethnicity, gender and age. One woman who died was pregnant, so her unborn child was lost, as well. That may have been the saddest metaphor of loss. Also, people lost two parents or siblings.

But, let me end this remembrance with a very positive story. In the second Trade Center tower, the subsidiary company I worked for had seventy people. Once the first tower was struck, the subsidiary employees began the long descent down the stairs, not wasting any time. The leaders of the company wanted to track every employee down that worked in the building to make sure every one made it out.

Throughout the day, the leaders kept checking survivors off the list until they got down to one last, unaccounted for name. Around 7 pm, the person finally answered her home phone. The frantic caller said where have you been? You see, the employee got down stairs in the second tower and then proceeded to walk home. She walked twelve miles home and finally got their late in the day.

She walked home. Nothing was moving to take her, so she made the decision she was going to get home on foot. To me, this is the power of home. The unlucky ones in the first tower had so little time to react to the tragedy. And, they paid for it with their lives. The ones in the second tower had a chance if they moved now. I applaud those who said let’s get down the stairs.

I was not going to write a post on this, but have responded to several poignant posts. I find terrorists acts that kill innocent civilians to be acts of cowardice. Killing a pregnant women does not show how tough someone is, regardless of who did it. It certainly does not honor a religion, in my view. It always strikes me that the ones talked into doing the killing are not the leaders, but the impressionable young ones who do not know they are being used.

American terrorists and even soldiers have killed civilians as well. That does not make it right. Some acts were intentional, while others were a mistake. Killing unarmed civilians is murder. And, it certainly is not bravery.

23 thoughts on “Two 9/11 Stories – one negative, one positive

  1. Heart wrenching Keith.
    So sad and I totally agree with you!
    “I find terrorists acts that kill innocent civilians to be acts of cowardice. Killing a pregnant women does not show how tough someone is, regardless of who did it. It certainly does not honor a religion”

    Thankfully there were some of those wonderful stories of people making it home. 💕

  2. Hello Keith. So much in your post is remarkable and worthy of comments. I am mostly struck by how we as a country came together over the death of 2,996 people and we as a country vowed and followed through doing anything to make sure it did not happen again. What happened from then to know where over 661,000 people have died and the simple act of wearing a cloth / mask over a portion of your face along with social distancing of 6 feet is considered far too much to ask to save lives of our fellow country members? What changed? Is life less valuable to us now? The 911 attacks caused the people to willingly give up some well established privacy rights, the Covid deaths has caused some people to create a new right out of nothing but their wishes. What has changed in our country, in our people? Hugs

      • Thanks Scottie. We were headed down a path that promoted and glorified differences and diminished commonality. A demagogue came along and used fear and deceit to sell himself as an answer to the division he was widening. His name is Donald J. Trump. Now, he has folks convinced that truth is fake and falsehood is real. And, that anyone who tries to tell you different is part of a conspiracy or just doesn’t like him. Sadly, many believe him and sycophants keep beating his deceitful drum. Keith

  3. I agree, Keith, but I can’t blame it all on that man. He drummed a beat that resonated with many, apparently, and it seems like it is easier to recognize an foreign enemy than one lodged within.

  4. How tragic, Keith. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to lose so many coworkers, even from a parent company. And the woman walking twelve miles home… I can relate to that need to be home and feel safe. I lived in CT at the time and the towers falling was traumatic. I think it took me a year to sleep well again, and I ended up quitting my corporate job because it just didn’t seem important anymore. I went back to school and started working with struggling kids and families as a counselor. 9/11 was a pivotal event in my life, and I’m still processing it 20 years later. Thanks for sharing your experience and your thoughts. Hugs.

    • Diana, thanks for your comment and sharing your story. You really changed your path forward after 9/11. I commend you for so doing, but also your new mission. You are a credit to your community. We have a good friend that leaves in a small community in Litchfield, CT. Were you close by? Keith

      • I lived just south of Hartford, but did quite a bit of work in NYC and other US cities. I watched the events unfold on television from our home office. When that second tower fell, I’m not sure what happened to me, but nothing was the same.

  5. Your moving account Keith highlights to the concerns and selflessness of the leaders of that company, ensuring their employees at least had a chance, one which paid off, made all the more impressive as it was taking place in an area of chaos and confusion.
    You also make a very perceptive point of one person simply walking home. In all the shock, horror and confusion, the poignancy of that one person making her journey to the place of safety, refuge and comfort is very moving.

  6. Note to Readers: We all have personal stories about 9/11. I have a friend name Roger whose meeting in one of the towers was canceled that day. What struck me is when former president Bush noted at the memorial to United flight 93, the 33 passengers and seven crew members were randomly impacted, did not known each other, but still came together to bring the plane down and save lives. Keith

    • Thanks for sharing this, Nemorino. It is one of those times we all remember where we were. I just hate to see civilians killed when they are just going about their daily lives. Thanks again, Keith

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