I was hard at work on September 11, 2001 and had no knowledge of the terror attack until calling Tom Preston.
“I can’t talk,” he nearly shouted into the phone. “A plane has just flown into the World Trade Center!”
Ironically, I learned of the terrorist attack from the nation’s public relations authority on anti-terrorism contingency planning. Also ironically, the project that had me hard at work was marketing and publicity for a national conference for my New York City-based client, Faith and Values Media.
My business was just a year and a half old. We were doing amazing work with a tech startup with offices on Church Street in the heart of the business district and just a few blocks from the World Trade Center. In fact, we had toured the Center and eaten lunch at Windows on the World a few months before while there for meetings.
Suddenly my clients, my friends, were the focus of my attention rather than the work I was doing for them. Where were they? Were they harmed? I spent much of the next few hours on my knees praying for the safety of all those put in harm’s way as well as for our nation and the world.
It would be about 24 hours before I learned that, though traumatized, each of my client’s employees had made their way out of the city and safely home, some covered in the ash we’ve heard so much about. In looking up their office location today, I learned the historic building my clients had occupied is being been replaced by a new glass tower.
That day changed our reality forever in so many ways. Like most Americans, I’m using the 15th anniversary to contemplate how we are different today. The one thought that stands out to me is the hope that we can rekindle the unity and love for our fellow man that tragic day helped us feel and act on. May we be selfless and giving like that every day, regardless of the threat level. It is what makes our nation great.