Greetings From Dillon, South Carolina

by Michael Boyink / mike@douglascountyherald.com

Dillon, SC

9/11 changed my life.

No, I didn’t lose a relative in the horrible building collapses. And no, I didn’t have any close friends who were first-responders to the scene.

I watched it all happen from the safety of my corporate job in West Michigan. A large TV on a distant wall had the news playing, and like prairie dogs we all stood up in our cubicals to watch.

I remember watching the second plane flying into the tower. I remember seeing people leaping from the burning towers. And I remember seeing the towers collapse.

I remember feeling numb.

And not knowing what to do. 

The numbness melded into mourning. And eventually, the mourning ebbed away as life picked up again. 

Harrison, Miranda, and MsBoyink examine beams of steel salvaged from the 9/11 collapse of the Twin Towers in New York City. The steel was being transported to Wellington, Florida to become a Patriot Memorial.

But it wasn’t the same life.

People were scared. Scared people don’t move the same way. Decisions that could be delayed were. Projects that could be canceled were.

The Dow-Jones dropped 700 points. An existing recession got deeper.

The company I worked for began to slow down. A round of layoffs took some co-workers. I felt bad for them, but was relieved to still have my job. 

Six weeks later came another round of layoffs. I said goodbye to more co-workers, feeling bad for them but also resenting the additional workload their absence would mean.

Another six or eight weeks passed.

The salvage steel had a large police escort all heading to Florida.

Then one morning my boss appeared at my desk. He asked me to accompany him to the conference room. Sitting inside were two men I didn’t recognize. My boss stammered out some kind of apology and left.

The two men laid out my termination package. Then a security guard stood by while I packed my desk into a cardboard box, then walked me to the door.

I remember MsBoyink saying “What are you doing home so early?”

We were a single income family. MsBoyink was at home full time with our two young children.

9/11 was a successful act of terrorism. Lives were lost. Great physical damage was caused. Millions of people – like me – were indirectly impacted.

But, like after a forest fire, new growth returned. And what grew wasn’t what burned.

I looked for a new job. I got offers for projects instead. I started a business to take on those projects. Those projects led to others. 

My income became location-independent. 

Which, a few years later, gave us the ability to travel by RV full-time.

So on that day, when we rolled into a South Carolina rest area, and saw a semi trailer carrying steel salvaged from the World Trade Towers, it gave me pause.

9/11 had indeed changed our live. 

For the better. 

I’m not always comfortable with that thought. So many people lost their lives that day. 

So we dedicate our travels – and these re-tellings of them – to the Americans that made the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11. 

And hope that they would join us in being thankful that, in one small way, the terrorists didn’t win.

The salvage steel had a large police escort all heading to Florida.
Harrison, Miranda, and MsBoyink examine beams of steel salvaged from the 9/11 collapse of the Twin Towers in New York City. The steel was being transported to Wellington, Florida to become a Patriot Memorial.