It's hard to believe that we are marking the 17th anniversary of 9/11.
It was a Tuesday morning like any other in our house. Getting kids off to school. Putting on makeup. Arguing about whoas making who late. The usual rush hour traffic. In fact, that morning we were late getting to work because Lou was packing for a flight to the east coast leaving later that day. We were blissfully unaware of what had happened a few minutes before. When we entered the doors at around 8am CST, I was talking to Lou about the report that I had to write after a client visit the previous Thursday/Friday.
I'd visited a client who had asked me to provide them with recommendations on Business Resilience. They were worried about what would happen if they lost their systems due to a catastrophic system failure. Worried about how the business would continue; how they would check to see if people were OK; how they would guarantee their clients would have access to their data. We'd discussed all sorts of system loss scenarios including the usual hurricanes and tornadoes.
During our working session there was an incredibly loud thump against the widow. A pigeon had flown into the glass window of the high-rise and I clearly remember them saying that it happened all the time and "at least it's just a pigeon". I remember thinking at the time that it was pretty tough on the pigeon! I promised to get some initial recommendations back to them for discussion by Thursday 9/13, got on a plane and flew home for the weekend.
The sun was shining that morning of 9/11 2001. It was a beautiful late summer morning and I remember thinking about having to be locked up in an interior office all day when I'd much rather be out in the beautiful weather.
We walked through the doors and onto our floor and everyone was in the corridors talking. I remember thinking that our boss must have died or something because of the looks on their faces. Lou asked one of the guys closest to him what the matter was. "Haven't you heard about the plane?" "What plane?" I asked. "The one that flew into the World Trade Center!" was the response. I didn't wait to ask any more questions, I did what an self-respecting computer engineer would do. I went to my computer, fired it up and went to check the on-line news. Networks were so over-whelmed that I couldn't even get to the internet.
I remembered an old radio in my bottom drawer. I plugged it in. Turned it on. It was a completely bizarre - no - surreal. Listening to the unfolding events on an old radio. I can't tell you how strange it felt listening to it and imaging it in my mind. Stunned. Lou and I sat in our respective chairs (we shared an office) and just stared at the radio. Unable to move. Just staring at the radio and listening.
It was only several hours later that we went down to the canteen to get a sandwich. We walked into the canteen and they were playing the news on the massive 30 foot projection screen. As we walked in the news was replaying the footage of the plane flying into the South Tower. We'd been listening to it - but hadn't seen it. I remember standing in front of the 30 foot screen with tears flowing down my face. Quiet tears. I thought of all those people and all their families and loved ones and thought about how they would have felt watching that replay over and over and over again, knowing that was the floor where their loved ones worked.
For the next two days, nothing got done around the office. All anyone could do - or talk about - was what had happened that beautiful Tuesday morning.
On Thursday I realized that I was late with my recommendations for the client that I had consulted with the previous week. I decided I really had to get going on it. I went onto google and typed in the name of the company as I wanted to take their logo from their website and put that onto the report.
What I saw was so much more than a logo. On their website was a message talking about the terrible number of colleagues they had missing in the attacks..... and it was a lot...... I thought it seemed so dreadfully ironic that I was now about to start a report with recommendations on what to do should a catastrophic system failure occur. SHOULD! I didn't know where to begin to write that report. It was the hardest document I'd ever had to create and deliver to a client.
Whenever we visited NYC after that. I avoided going anywhere near where the World Trade Towers had stood. Then, in 2014 we took a cruise that went out of Manhattan. We sailed by the area where the memorial now stands and where the towers once stood. On the deck of the ship we all stood as we sailed by and, I swear, there wasn't a dry eye on that deck. It was eerily quiet as people silently paid their respects to those that had lost their lives - and to all their families. As well as the amazing firefighters and rescue workers and everyone else who had done heroic things that day.
I took this photograph as we sailed out of New York City a month ago. There will always be a gap where the towers stood, but the memorial will always be there to remind us to take a moment every year to remember those that were lost that day - and those that have been lost since. Including those who lost their lives fighting for our freedom after that day.
This post is my own memorial to all of them.