I’m going to depart from my usual Access oriented blogging to talk about a subject very close to me. As the 15th Anniversary of 9/11 has approached I am, again, annoyed and chagrined at how one group of those affected is paid short shrift in the media coverage of the event. I refer to the ordinary people lucky enough to have survived the horrors and devastation of that day. You see I am one of that group.
I don’t want to take anything away from those who lost their lives in the Towers and especially not to the First Responders who bravely rushed in to do what they could after the planes hit the Towers. Or even those who lost loved ones on that day. But there are many of us who were lucky to have gotten out of the Towers and away from the collapse. Yet you hear little about those. I was inspired to write this by a column that appears in today’s (9/10) LI Newsday by Mike Vogel. Mr Vogel wrote about a 12 year old girl, Helaina Hovitz, who was evacuated from Intermediate School 89, near the World Trade Center. The column wrote how she begged the parents of a classmate to take her with them. How she and her classmates became sensitive to overhead planes and car backfires. How she struggled with post traumatic stress disorder through adolescence and young adulthood. To her credit she emerged from this to become a journalist and author (After 9/11: One Girl’s Journey Through Darkness to a New Beginning).
My story is nowhere near as dramatic. I was in my office on the 50th floor of the South Tower that morning. I heard the crash of the first plane and looked out my window to see smoke coming out of the North Tower and debris raining down. Our corporate security people came running through the office telling everyone to get out. I was in a stairwell on the 16th floor when the second plane hit. The building shook and the lights went out briefly. When we reached the ground level the plaza looked like a war zone, flaming debris everywhere. The police ushered us down to the Concourse level telling us to head north.
From here my luck was tremendous. I managed to catch one of the last subway trains heading north and got to Penn Station in time to catch one of the last LIRR trains leaving Penn Station. I was home before noon unscathed. I don’t seem to have suffered any adverse affects of that day either physically or mentally. Though I was a bit jumpy about planes flying overhead for a little while afterwards.
I write this in the hope that people will remember that not all the victims of 9/11 were those who died in the attacks and those who survived them or those affected by the rescue efforts. But there is a third group that needs to be remembered.
I belong to a group that represents this group. The World Trade Center Survivor’s Network can be found at http://www.survivorsnet.org/. Please help remember those who survived on that day.