Where were you on September 11, 2001? I had an appointment at the March of Dimes headquarters in White Plains New York to discuss, I really don’t remember. As I cleared security I noticed there were lots of televisions running loudly and just about everybody was clustered around one of them. I arrived just when the first building collapsed. This was all happening just 28 miles south of us in Manhattan.
Weird as it may sound I had a meeting scheduled in Manhattan on September 12 with a group of executives who flown in from various countries. Since all aircraft were grounded I suggested to my client that perhaps the people in town, mostly in Midtown, 3 miles or so north of Ground Zero might like to have a meeting. Most of us knew each other, only three of the group were Americans.
They pretty much all said yes so I hopped the train into Manhattan. Walking to the meeting site in Midtown from Grand Central Station the city look like a movie set for a really scary picture. In the background smoke rising from the attack site. It was a clear sunny day, some clouds but the funny thing was the streets were clogged in every direction with cars trucks and buses without drivers and passengers. I had no idea where these people were because the city in midtown (42nd street and thereabouts ) seemed practically deserted. We heard that here had been something like 10,000 bomb threats so most of the buildings in the area we were vacant.
We held the meeting, it lasted about an hour and we all left. My colleague, a young new hire just out of college and I headed back to Grand Central which was mobbed. Seems there were several bomb threats directed toward Grand Central so it was shut down. Luckily the car service I normally use was operating and they gave us a ride back to White Plains.
A short time later I learned that the oldest daughter of a couple we knew quite well in our town was aboard the second plane in the attack. Their life changed forever. A former employee of my sons was aboard the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. He actually was able to have a conversation with his wife on his cell phone as the plane neared the ground. A close friend of ours had an office in the first tower practically at the point of impact, until 30 days before the attack. For reasons he can’t remember or explain, he decided to move himself out of that office and begin working from home. His entire team happened to be at off-site in New Jersey, when the attack occurred. He and most of the team were in counseling for many years.
Where were you?
By: James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus, America’s Crisis Guru