Monday, May 30, 2011

The Long Goodbye

Last night my parents and I watched the National Memorial Day concert on PBS.  I was a little surprised at first that it opened with a tribute to those who died on 9/11; after all, the tenth anniversary of the tragedy isn't until this fall.  I suppose the recent demise of Osama bin Laden was one of the reasons behind it.  Those of us who lost friends and relatives that day, though, don't need prodding by third parties to remember them.

In late 2001 several of my friends worked for a large insurance company on some of the highest floors in Number Two World Trade Center.  Three of them died in its collapse; another survived only because he started down the stairs as soon as the first plane hit and refused to turn back despite announcements telling employees to return to their offices.  Walking down 100 flights of stairs takes a very long time, especially when the stairwells are clogged with other frantic people trying to get down and rescue workers trying to get up.  Had he not been most of the way down when the second plane hit, he never would have gotten out of the building before it collapsed.

One of the friends who died was a former co-worker I considered the younger brother I never had.  He had actually called me the Friday before with the offer of a job interview with his boss on the morning of September 11.  I almost said yes.  I could have been there, too.  I would say that I am lucky to still be alive - but I can't consider anything about that day lucky.  I still miss Phil and Linda and most of all Paul.  It's a darker world without them, and without all the others whose lives were cut short in the attack.

"War does not determine who is right - only who is left."  ~Bertrand Russell


  1. A day of horror, pain, and loss.
    How awful to have had friends among the victims, and to have to process their loss so unexpectedly, the shock and grief amplified by the horrific manner in which their lives ended.
    Can't imagine what you felt when the realization dawned that you might have been among the deceased.
    Truly, the stuff of nightmares.

  2. At the time I worked in a building with a clear view of the Trade Center, so the worst part of the day was the few minutes after the second impact and before we were evacuated when we saw people jumping from the upper floors rather than die in the was horrifying. I can't imagine how terrible it must have been for those who knew they were trapped for the half hour or so before the buildings collapsed.