Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Memory of 9/11

I had driven from Chicago with my good friend Ru that weekend because my fellowship program was starting up on Monday September 10th.  My new fellowship office was at 2 World Trade Center 16th Floor and I was excited because apart from my fellowship interview, I had't been to the Twin Towers since I was a kid. I spent all day Monday at the fellowship office meeting my colleagues and discussing my research plan. We were in a conference room and I don't recall any windows so it must have been an internal office space meant to cut down on distractions. It was a long day which ended with instructions for the newly-arrived fellows to visit the security office of WTC for permanent ID badges. I had a temporary ID but would have to enter through the Visitors entrance each time, so I was eager to get that permanent ID and planned to go in after the morning rush hour the next day.

I slept in late, still recovering from the long drive, and was awakened by a phone call from a frantic friend who thought I might be at the WTC. We turnded on the tv and started watching the coverage. As the day unfolded, more friends called as did my professors from Illinois to make sure I was ok. My family members checked in throughout the day.

My friend Ru had planned to fly back to Chicago but all airports were closed, in fact, New York City was completely locked down. It took days for her to get back home via a caravan of friends driving west.

The following Monday the fellowship had arranged group therapy sessions especially for employees who were at the WTC offce on 9/11. After the first plane hit, and the explosion shook the building violentily, the organization's president, who just happened to be there early that morning, ordered employees to evacuate immediate. They followed the established evacuation protocol sending a runner to check bathrooms and storerooms and the office PA system announced that the office would be closed and locked and employees should go home until further notice. As they left the building emergency workers were advising people to go back in because of falling debris, but since the office was locked there was no going back and so they headed for subways and buses, called family to let them know they were on their way home. Not long after the second plane hit. And you know the rest of that story.

At our group sessions, those employees credited the organization's president with saving their lives.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people who lost friends and family, especially the young children who lost parents.

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