It was approximately 35 years ago I had the opportunity to visit the World Trade Center in New York City. An experience I will never forget.
A business invitation from Xerox Corporation, one that was too good to pass up, took me to a meeting room on the 107th floor of the South Tower. The view was staggering.
It was a sunny day. The sky was radiantly blue and clear. The view of New York City seemed limitless and awe-inspiring.
In the harbor below, the Statute of Liberty stood guard on Ellis Island, and for me looking down from the indoor observation deck which was outrageously high, the monument looked no more than two inches tall…..if that.
As you can imagine, there was an elaborate system of elevators in the building. Elevators were marked for certain floors, so for those riding to a higher level it was wise to look at the map before jumping in for a ride to the top. Some elevators only reached mid-tower levels, where visitors had the option to switch to another platform and continue their ride to the top.
My meeting lasted approximately three hours, and during that time, even though I was concentrating on the presentation, the tower would sway. Not a lot, but there was a subtle, slight movement. Everyone sensed it.
It was unnerving.
Many have visited a tower in the World Trade Center, or possibly had a similar experience in another tall tower building. If you’ve visited such a site, you know the feeling.
Because of my experience in the tower that day, I have a deep respect for those who were working in the towers on September 11, 2001 –– that deep respect also includes those individuals who worked fervently to save lives.
Many endured countless trips up and down building staircases to save others. Many endured intense, unyielding heat and fire in an effort to help another. Smoke-filled passageways. Chaos. Panic. Feelings of entrapment.
There were many heroes born that day, and those acts of selfless giving will always be a part of the real life story.
One touching story of survival tells of a pregnant woman who was helped down multiple flights of stairs by a non-believer. The pregnant woman and her unborn baby survived due to this man’s unselfish act.
The retired gentleman who saved her life, however, ran back into the building to save another, just before the building collapsed.
He didn’t make it. Notification was made to his son and family.
Three months later, the deceased man’s son opens the door of his home to find a young couple standing on the porch, holding a baby.
The young lady with the baby explains that it was his father that helped her out of the burning tower that day, and without his dad’s assistance, she would not have made the journey down.
She continues to tell that on the way down, she prayed. Upon reaching ground level, the man who had helped her to the building exit, accepted Jesus.
But, her visit was not only to share information about his father’s last moments, it was also to introduce her newborn –– a baby boy named after the man who had saved her life and the life of her unborn child, as well as many others.
Over the course of the past 18 years, many heart-touching stories have emerged from this awful tragedy, and today, those narratives still need to be remembered and told.
We must keep the stories alive.
As painful as it is to recall vivid images of the day –– the towers, the plane crash, and the Pentagon building, it is imperative to remember those who died and the unselfish actions of those who made a difference. We must never forget, let the heartache fade away, or lose sight of the anguish and grief.
Once a year, on the anniversary, we look back and remember.
But, shouldn’t we do more.
In days ahead, maybe take a moment when visiting a cemetery or airport. Or, when viewing a monument or special statue.
Perhaps an opportunity will arise to visit a notable building and enjoy a magnificent view from the observation deck. If so, please close your eyes and remember. And, while you pause, maybe you’ll feel the building sway.