Much has been and will be written about the ten years since 9/11, and I really had no intention of writing anything myself. Much has changed in my life over the past ten years, but I can honestly say that none of those changes has anything to do with the events of that dark day. Sure I had a talk with Molly, like many other parents have done this week. She was only two at the time, and 9/11 is really nothing more than a history lesson to her. Much like the assignations of John F. Kennedy is to anyone who is around my age. Although it would be wrong not to stop and reflect a little on this day, the most important thing to me was that life has gone on. My next door neighbor is still setting up for his football tailgating party, Molly has another parade today, Maureen is off to her second job, Alex is still sleeping.
The day seems ready to proceed just like any other Sunday. Then I opened the paper and read something that put it all in perspective for me. Hidden on page 22A of the Sun-Time was a recollection by Carol Marin. She is a local Chicago news woman who just happened to be in New York on the morning of 9/11, and she found herself reporting from the base of the Twin Towers ten years ago today. Here is just a portion of her article:
First and foremost is the firefighter whose name I may never know who saved me in the crash of the second tower of the World Trade Center.
I was at the time a correspondent for CBS News and was in New York the morning of the attacks. When the planes hit the towers, I raced to the site to cover the story. I was on West Street, within a block or two of the north tower, when the ground rumbled and roared. And a firefighter screamed at me to “Run!”
A fireball of ignited jet fuel consumed the base of the north tower as the building melted and crashed into the ground. The firefighter threw me against a nearby building and shielded my body with his. I could feel the pounding of his heart against my backbone.
In seconds the air was black and thick with debris.
If the building didn’t kill us, I thought, the air was going to.
My firefighter handed me off to a New York City cop before I could ask the firefighter his name. And that police officer, Brendan Duke, and I walked hand in hand, our other hands covering our faces in an effort not to breathe in the bits and pieces of everything and everyone housed within those buildings that once defined the New York skyline.
Step-by-step, street-by-street, we made it into clearer air until we could see daylight again. And breathe again.
It was a New York City bus driver, Bill McRay, who picked me up, all covered in ash, and drove me back to the CBS Broadcast Center where I walked onto the news set, sat down with Dan Rather and reported what I’d seen.
My great regret for the last 10 years is that I never got the name of the firefighter who saved me. But he was gone in an instant, turning back toward the site of the tower’s collapse.
I pray he is alive. And well.