Where were you? Most of you probably remember that day well. I won’t go into my story of that particular day. It was the rest of the week and the following week that had the biggest impact on me.
Some co-workers and I loaded a van with supplies and drove up to NYC a couple of days after 9/11. As we left Florida, we drove through a tropical storm. We stayed overnight at a co-worker’s parents’ house in Richmond, VA, the first night. Then we drove past the Pentagon on our way to NYC. D.C. was eerie. But not as eerie as NYC. Driving through New Jersey and looking East to see a big gap in the skyline just made my stomach sick. Other prominent memories: driving into Manhattan without traffic, seeing people walk around the streets with photographs of their loved ones, making more eye contact with New Yorkers than all previous trips combined (compared to the task-oriented, stare at your feet sort of walking), daily prayer with about 100 Campus Crusade staff members before heading out for the day, staying at a hotel where lots of firemen from around the country were staying, getting off the subway at Wall St. the first day the subway was open and smelling the “air,” flying home from JFK with all the security increases and still getting my keychain through with a pocket knife on it. Mostly, though, I remember the heaviness of just being there. The world would never be the same. Or would it?
One of the things I did while in NYC was phone interviews for a website we put up for spiritual support for people affected by the tragedy (who wasn’t?). I spoke with a partner at a major financial services company who just wasn’t sure if he wanted to EVER go back to work because he was questioning the validity of what he had been striving for. He had lost friends who were at work on 9/11. A good friend of his would have been in the wrong place and the wrong time if it weren’t for being late for work due to attending the football game the night before. I spoke with someone who would have been in the wrong place at the wrong time if it weren’t for him being at a Bible study that morning that “just happened” to run long because it was the first meeting of the new season. I spoke with someone whose friend left her office to get a cup of coffee and chose to actually leave the building instead of get a cup of coffee in one of the many coffee shops inside the Trade Center.
I’ve frequently wondered what has happened to all these people whose lives were spared or significantly impacted that day. I was very fortunate to not lose any friends that day, but they were not so fortunate. Did the shock and horror of it all diminish in importance? Did they eventually go back to the 80-hour weeks they were working before? Does it still impact me? It definitely does on 9/11. I do think that 9/11 impacted the way I viewed the importance of my corporate career compared to the importance of my family. Has it affected you?