I took them for granted, the twin towers that once stood as sentinels, guarding the lower end of Manhattan.
Over the years the twin towers just up from Battery Park seemed to nicely blend into the landscape known as New York City. I don’t think I ever once looked up at them from street level and from the window of my regular Charlotte to LaGuardia US Airways flight they were only a natural extension of the New York skyline.
In NYC the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings are notable but The Trade Center Towers always seemed rather dull, and nothing more than a suitable anchor to a long and rambling silhouette of New York, New York.
I had enjoyed lunch at Windows On The World more than a dozen times. Business relationships gave me the perks of dining in the corporate clubs and the paneled executive dinning rooms of some of New York’s best know investment houses. Often when not from the Trade Center Towers the view was of the towers and across to New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty.
But I never really noticed the towers, as my attention was always to the river traffic below, Ellis Island and lady liberty and then New Jersey beyond.
On that Tuesday morning September 11, 2001; 2977 people went to work expecting a rather uneventful day.
Tuesday’s are always grind it out days in the investment business and it is during the months after summer vacations are completed and school starts those 90 days of September, October and November that we get our work done. So that Tuesday started as real work day. But that would all change by 10AM.
In Charlotte, and I had stopped by my parent’s house soon after the first aircraft hit the North Tower, I left for my office after the second aircraft hit and listened to the reports of the first tower’s collapse on the radio.
One of my associates was having breakfast at the Marriott located at 3 World Trade Center when the first plane hit. He would later tell us that despite being at ground zero, the staff in the restaurant kept serving their guests after the planes hit. New Yorkers are like that. It wasn’t until the first body hit the atrium glass that anyone became alarmed.
By the time the third and fourth body hit simultaneously is was bedlam.
A friend of my sister’s recalled walking forty blocks that day after the towers collapsed and along the way a stranger offering her a bottle of water. That is all she can remember the long walk and the bottle of water.
Charlotte was far removed from the madness, the event at worst would be surreal, until one of my clients from Texas called to make sure I would make the meeting set for Thursday.
The meeting had been on the calendar for weeks. It was to have been a big company wide roll-out of a new 401(k) Plan. Six offices in two days, all back to back meetings and I was the key player as well as the primary speaker. I knew the meeting could’t happen without me.
With his third call that afternoon there was anger in his voice because I was unable to confirm that I would indeed be in Dallas on Thursday morning. By noon there wasn’t a plane in the sky over the United States, and a eerie quite had swallowed up the countryside.
I later would tell my angry client that when the day started 3000 people went to work expecting to have nothing more than an OK day, but not one of them were going home.
His reply was that I better be in his office on Thursday morning.
Needless to say I didn’t make the meeting, my flight was canceled. We pushed back the rollout two weeks and a year later I lost the account.
This morning, US Airways flight 1626 will arrive high above Manhattan turn east and then west to avoid the site now known as "Ground Zero". It's arrival time at LGA will put it over Manhattan on a crystal clear morning with the sun bathed skyline looking much like it did 9 years ago.
Now years later the Towers that I never paid any attention, are still noticeably gone, and in their place nothing, just a void that echos an uneasy feeling.