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.