I was on the elevator heading up the 16 floors to my office. I was alone in the elevator watching the indicators flash my progress: 12, 14, 15… The doors parted at my destination and I suddenly feel very dizzy, to the point that I have to steady myself against the door frame before continuing on the short walk to my office. Though it is very hokey and cliche to say, it was like a disturbance in the force.
I walked up the last flight of stairs to my office just as the clock on the wall advanced to the next minute: it was 8:48. I was 12 minutes early for work.
I started my daily routine when my cell phone rings, it’s Earl. “A plane just hit the World Trade Center! Turn on the television.” Wow, a small plane had hit one of the buildings at the World Trade Center. I figured it was probably like a Cessna 172 or something.
I started walking to the production side of the office when I noticed that the ABC radio feed on one of the radio stations I worked at was playing the “special report” theme music. I walked into the video studio where my co-worker Allen was tuning in the local television station. He found “Good Morning America” and we watched the building coverage of what was happening in New York.
It was a very short time later when all of us in our small office and radio stations were gathered around the television watching the coverage of what was happening in New York. A few moments later, we watched the second plane hit the other tower.
I felt ill. It was then that I knew that life had changed forever. I remember thinking this must be how people felt after the news of Pearl Harbor or the JFK assassination. We were glued to the television for the rest of the day, doing as little work as possible trying to keep the radio stations running. To distract myself, I made a list of all the commercials we weren’t playing (and wouldn’t play for the next couple of days).
Like many people I know, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing that day. I also remember how I felt about my country and how proud I was when I saw all the flags pop up on every car that passed by in the following weeks. I remember how determined I was to walk down to a local shop, purchase the biggest flag I could find and then climb up on the roof of that 16 story building so I could hang that flag on the sign below the giant letters that proclaimed “ADIRONDACK BANK”. My love for the United States was never greater, and though I have been very vocal in the past, and will probably continue to be just that, I am still very much a proud American.
In 2002 Earl and I went to Shanksville, Pa. where Flight 93 went down. A chain-link fence held countless memories and tributes and a few little monuments. It was then and there that I cried for those that had lost their lives and I cheered for the bravery that each one of those people in New York, Washington and over Shanksville exhibited. Today it is with just as much emotion that I join in with the rest of our country in remembering them again.
Tears streamed down my face as I wrote my closing comments on a card at the site of the World Trade Center just last weekend: God Bless America.
Taken near Shanksville, Pa. in 2002.