September 11: team members remember

As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches, we asked team members questions about their thoughts, memories, and experiences. Throughout this week, we’ll be sharing some of their responses on our blog.

Share a memory of kindness that came out of 9/11.

When the towers collapsed, I was on the upper west side of Manhattan at 112th Street; my sister, an NYC Parks employee, was at work on the west side around 60th. There was no phone service, no subway service. I knew I needed to get to my sister, so I started walking. I walked for more than 50 blocks then realized that I didn’t know the address. My sister had just recently moved to a new office and I didn’t know where it was. Not knowing what else to do, I turned east and headed into Central Park toward her old office. Halfway through the park, I noticed a Parks vehicle and decided to ask the two men in the truck if they could help me locate my sister. On any other day, I’m sure my request would have been met with attitude. (On any other day, I wouldn’t even have bothered to ask the question.) But on this day, when a sweaty woman with a crazed look in her eye stopped their truck and asked if they knew Carrie, these New Yorkers didn’t hesitate. They did not know my sister, but one immediately radioed the head office and found out the address, then said, “Hop in. We’ll run you over there.” Thanks to the kindness of those two guys, I made it to my sister’s office just in time – she was leaving to come and find me. [Jessica, Executive Producer]

I can’t pinpoint one act of kindness that occurred and stuck in my memory after the attacks, it just seemed like there was an air of brotherhood in all that we did.  I felt that in any challenge I faced, there were others that had done more, and for that reason, I needed to better myself.  [Evan, Senior Project Manager]


Did 9/11 prompt you to change anything in your own life?

Without a doubt.  I think I’m more acutely aware of the safety of my loved ones.  I find myself getting a bit more worried now, when I see something on the news, that maybe someone I knew was affected.  I guess I just felt so protected up to that point… so isolated from the world’s troubles. [Evan, Senior Project Manager]

I don’t remember making any conscious decisions to change anything in my life following 9/11. But hearing about all the acts of heroism, of people helping others, did make an impact on me. I found myself doing more and more volunteer work in my community. Our church opened its doors one night a week to feed and shelter homeless women, so I gave some time to that. I became trained as a leader for the Boy Scouts, and helped with service projects, and merit badge counseling. The more I did, the easier it became, and more rewarding. This past summer I traveled with my two teenage boys on a mission trip to a Blackfeet Indian reservation in Montana, where we did a construction project for the local senior center. I don’t know if we will ever achieve peace on Earth, but I know a little loving kindness goes a long way. [Sue, Content Screener]

If you were to write a letter to your future grandchildren or great-grandchildren about 9/11, what would you say?

I would tell them it shouldn’t take a national tragedy to unite our country the way we were united in the days and weeks after the attacks.  It shouldn’t take a holiday or a disaster to see as many American flags waving as I did at that time.  I would tell them fear and grief and revenge were never good enough reasons for torture and racial profiling and war.  I would tell them that September 11 should never be a national holiday; it should be allowed to rest quietly like Pearl Harbor’s anniversary does 70 years later.  And finally, I would tell them that we all have a responsibility to make this a better country, and to be educated, open-minded, and engaged citizens. [Katherine, Human Resources Manager]

I would recount the day and ensuing weeks as I recalled them.  I’d like to think I would warn them that this sort of thing is possible, and in the past, a frequent occurrence.  Though I think I would rather make it an example of compassion.  Instead of focusing on why it happened, I would talk about how humankind came together to overcome even the most devastating events in history, and that they should try to learn from our past, to make a better future for themselves, and their children’s children. [Evan, Senior Project Manager]

Have you visited Ground Zero? Share your experience.

Yes… I had mixed emotions.  I thought I would feel very sad.  Instead, I felt a cycle of emotions.  First I was in awe of the sheer size of the area affected.  Then I began to imagine what it would have been like for the people in the worst possible scenarios, and I became quite sad.  I thought about their final thoughts, and whether they were of heroism, fear, family, love or whatever else.  At that point, I think I felt a bit angry that it happened, and that we don’t have measures in place to prevent this sort of global tragedy.  Then I realized that this happens in other parts of the world much more frequently than here in the U.S.  It really puts things in perspective, and makes you feel like we need to take responsibility for both our political actions as a country, as well as our actions as people in a community. [Evan, Senior Project Manager]

Although I lived in lower Manhattan at the time of the attacks, I did not visit Ground Zero. I had seen the towers engulfed in smoke and flames. I had seen the terrifying news footage of the planes hitting the towers, the towers collapsing. I just couldn’t bring myself to go there in person. It was all too devastating, too horrifying. Ten years later, I still have not visited Ground Zero. [Jessica, Executive Producer]

The “Remembering 9/11” site includes obituaries, profiles, Guest Books, Moving Tributes and a National Book of Remembrance. To date, more than 6 million people have visited the site, leaving more than 200,000 Guest Book entries.


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