|Me (with camera) at the WTC in 1977|
Whenever I returned to college from a visit home I would pass by the construction site where the World Trade Center was being built. As a child I thought that the Empire State Building would always be the tallest building in the world, but here they were building two (!) which would be taller. When complete, the twin towers of the World Trade Center would replace King Kong's favorite New York City skyscraper as the tallest in the world - at least for a while.
In 1973 the World Trade Center opened. It didn't have the charm of the building it replaced as tallest, but there it was, right at the tip of Manhattan island. You could see it from the Staten Island ferry as you approached ... you could see it as you crossed over the Verrazano Bridge. It was built on land that had not existed when New Amsterdam was settled, though it towered over the space where the original Dutch settlement existed. It transformed the famous New York City skyline.
As a Scoutmaster and as a Cubmaster, I brought the boys in my unit to the 110th floor observation deck. As a New Yorker, I had not been to the top of the Empire State Building (yet), but hardly anyone went there anymore, as these new buildings were the highest you could now get in New York City. On a number of occasions, my wife and I brought our son and daughter up to the observation deck. In 1976 I took a picture of the Statue of Liberty from here which I entered into a US Bicentennial photo contest, and won a prize.
For many years I worked in Secaucus, New Jersey and lived in Brooklyn. My drive to work took me through the Battery Tunnel and past the World Trade Center. Each morning I passed by, seeing the busy area and watching folks going to work in the towers.
One of the 4 hijacked aircraft left Newark International Airport - just 15 minutes from my house. It crashed landed in Shanksville, PA after passengers stormed the flight deck in an attempt to take back the airplane from the terrorists.
The day after the attack I found myself in the emergency room at Staten Island University Hospital. In the bed next to me was the wife of a fireman who was working at ground zero. He had come home for a break, and she had a reaction to the dust and debris he came home covered with.
As with the bombing of Pearl Harbor a generation before, we were stirred out of our complacency and into war. Security was increased everywhere, not just at the airports. We had learned to constantly look back over our shoulders.
In April, 2010 a friend was visiting from Australia and I was taking her around my city. She wanted to visit ground zero. I hadn't been able to bring myself to be in the area since the day of the attack. This was my first time back through that area. We looked down onto the footprint of the World Trade Center as the area was being prepared for construction of The Freedom Tower and the 911 Memorial.
Today, the empty space on our skyline where the World Trade Center stood, is no longer empty. The Freedom Tower is
Weeks after the attack we visited our daughter in Florida, and saw The Voices of Liberty perform at the American Adventure in EPCOT in Walt Disney World. This clip was a part of that performance that I share each 9/11. (I hope and look forward to you sharing your thoughts on 9/11 below.)