I was in New York City earlier this week and had the opportunity to be in a building overlooking Ground Zero. I’m glad to finally see some progress with the Freedom Tower but after 8 1/2 years it also seems painfully slow. Perhaps it is because they still have about 50 floors to go deconstructing the building that stands just south of where the South Tower stood. Or perhaps it’s because it’s Ground Zero and it will be this way until the rebuilding is complete.
I asked the head of the securities firm how long they had been in the building and he said ten years.
“So, were you here on 9/11?” I asked, my curiosity and love for first person accounts of history taking hold.
He said, “Let me show you where I was.” He led me over to the conference room window where he had stood. “It was a beautiful morning” he said. “I had just grabbed my coffee. I walked over to the window to admire the view and it looked like a ticker tape parade was underway. Paper everywhere… just floating in the air.”
He continued that he couldn’t see the top of the North Tower from his vantage point on the 27th floor and had not heard a thing. He then began to hear sirens but still could not see the damage, only the smoke. Shortly thereafter as he continued to watch the tragedy unfold the second plane appeared out of nowhere and slammed into the South Tower.
“Surreal” when asked about seeing the second plane. “I could not believe what I was seeing.”
He turned and shouted to his people to evacuate. “I was afraid the South Tower could fall on us,” he said.
Much like standing on the battlefields of Gettysburg or visiting the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor it is impossible to escape the enormity of loss any time I visit Ground Zero.