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The Rings of 9/11

I went out this morning for a run.  I set out to run 9.11 miles in memory of those who will never run again.  As my run developed, I decided to stop at every mile for a brief moment of silence to think of those that lost their lives and to slow my overall pace down to 9:11 per mile.  It was a beautiful morning, not a cloud in the sky – much like that fateful day 10 years ago.

In the end, I hit it right on the nose, 9.11 miles, 1:23:43 for an overall pace of 9:11.

***

During one of my moments of silence, I thought of the City of New York, the people that live, work, and love there.

I thought of my sister.  She is one of those people that has worked and lived in New York for almost half of her life.  As I thought of her, I remember something she described to me not too long after that horrific day.  She described what she called the Rings of 9/11 – the layers of people who were affected by the acts of those evil men.

We all know of the 3,000 lives that were lost that day.  But what of the rest of us?  Everybody in this country was affected by the events of 9/11, but the truth is, the closer one was to Ground Zero, she believed, the more traumatic the event was.  There are exceptions to be sure, but for the most part, I have to agree with her.

***

So today, as we honor those that lost their lives 10 years ago, each in our own way, maybe we should all take a moment to check in on those whom we love and were not too far from the epicenter.  I will be thinking of all of my friends who still live there, but today, I think I will call my sister.

Who will you call or reach out to?

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I used to work in a sector of the Event Planning business called Destination Management.  I was actually the Chief Operations Officer of what was the premiere company in New York City for that particular niche. Essentially, if you were a company that wanted to send a group of people to New York City for a stretch of time, we took care of those people from the moment they got off of their planes until the moment they got back on.  We took care of transportation, lodging, food, entertainment, tours and most importantly to some of these companies, meetings and conferences.

If a company was sending a group of its people to New York City, they had to throw in a few meetings.

New York City has an incredible number of venues to choose from when picking a place to hold business meetings, presentations or conferences.  As the man in charge of the various programs we put together, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to get into these venues before, during and after each of the events I ran.

Despite the endless options however, there were a select few places that were my “go to” locations.  Places where I felt comfortable enough with the staff to know that even if my event hit a glitch or two, the end result would still be a success and would receive glowing reviews.

These select places became regular locations for me – places where I would run breakfast meetings on a weekly (usually twice a week) basis – to the point where I could simply rely on the routine and know that “today” was going to start off well.  These breakfasts would generally last from about 8AM to 10AM, requiring me to be present from about 7AM to 11AM.

One of these places was Windows On The World.

Windows on the World was a complex of venues at the top floors (106th and 107th) of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.

Just a few months before the attacks of 9/11, Jess and I decided that we wanted to have one of us at home raising our child.  We looked at our respective salaries at the time and decided that it would make more financial sense for me to be the stay at home parent.  The next week I went into my boss’s office and told him that I was “retiring” for a while to raise my child.  Although he was disappointed, he completely understood and accepted my decision.  He understood why we had made our decision and did not try to convince me to stay on.  Tony could be a convincing guy, and I am thankful that he let me go.

***

On the morning of 9/11, little Katie was in her high chair.  We had just started on solid foods (if you can call soupy cereal solid).  We had recently moved out of New York City and into the suburbs.

The phone rang.  It was Jess.

What are you doing? she asked.

Feeding the kiddo.  Mmmm, cerrrrrrealllllll.

You need to turn on the TV.

I strolled the high chair into the den and turned on the television.  There was an image of smoke coming out of one of the Twin Towers.  The voice on the TV was talking about a possible Cessna crashing in the building.  I remember thinking, what an idiot!

And then reality changed.  The second plane hit the other tower and my world, my baby’s world, our world was changed forever.

***

As ten years have passed, certain feelings have become fuzzy.  The abject disbelief and horror of what those 19 evil men did has been numbed somewhat.  My fear of flying has become a little less terrifying.  The wound on my National Pride has healed, if not scarred.

But…

…every time I think of 9/11 and I look at my now two children, I think about the fact that there are so many children , so many sons and daughters, so many parents and siblings that lost someone that day, and had I still been working at the time, there was at least a 40% chance that I would have been up there, at Windows On The World, when flight 11 struck the North Tower.

Fortunately for those in my former company, we did not have a program there that day.  That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have had I still been with the company.  Like I said, Windows was a preferred venue of mine.

***

So as we enter this weekend commemorating the 10 year anniversary of the awful events that happened on 9/11, I ask you to pray for those that lost their lives that day – but I also ask you to say a prayer for the children, the parents, the spouses and the friends of those who lost their lives, and finally for those who were never born…had I been there, Katie would have been an only child, Jess would have been left alone…and Brooke would have never been born.

I am so thankful, so grateful, that whatever God that is up there decided that Brooke needed to be a part of this world.

Thank you Lord for sparing me, but even more so, thank you for sparing my baby…

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