Yesterday was a day of remembrance and prayers. In my family, it was a day to give thanks to God for sparing my uncle and my cousin—his nephew.
On September 11, 2001, my cousin Alex, a twenty-five years old accountant was cursing himself for staying up late the night before, ignoring his alarm while still dozing and missing his train from Long Island to Manhattan. His Mom had just arrived the night before and the whole family was celebrating her visit with a special dinner.
Alex took the next train and worried during the whole trip about what his boss would say. It was his first job after graduating with an MBA, a nice position as accountant in a firm on the 18th floor of the World Trade Center.
The train stopped for 20 minutes at the previous station and then zoomed without stopping for the next four stations. Alex and the passengers couldn’t understand why. They were told to evacuate the train and walk. While walking toward the World Trade Center, Alex saw the smoke and fumes darkening the sky. People were running in all directions. Someone told him about the attack. He tried to walk away, toward his home. From 9:30 am to 5 pm he roamed in the streets, not knowing how to find transportation and reach home. By 4 pm he finally found someone who agreed to let him use a cellular phone and he called home.
His mother had seen the attack on TV and collapsed thinking her son dead. The whole family gathered around her, supporting and comforting her with words of hope, as she screamed, prayed, cried for hours, until she heard my cousin’s voice on the phone.
That same day, my uncle, a VP in a contracting firm was meeting with important clients in the company’s office on the 80th floor of the World Trade Center. A man in his sixties, he often had health problems.
While driving at 8:30 on the Expressway, he felt sick and had to stop at a fast food restaurant to use the restroom. At 8:45 he called the office, talked to the administrative assistant and to the owner’s son and informed them that he would be fifteen minutes late for the meeting with the clients. A moment later, he raced on the highway. But at 9:15, his wife called him and said to make a U-turn. His office was no more. Later he learned that his boss’s son, a young man in his early thirties, ran down the 80 floors, but their administrative assistant and the old client waited for the elevator and never made it.
Yesterday was a sad day for many. We will never forget 911.
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