Baseball will return another day to this blog. It is, of course, a constant in our lives, but some days it is better to look elsewhere for at least a few moments.
September 2001 was a tough time for me. My father was very sick with the lung cancer that would take his life on October 1st, exactly two weeks short of his 70th birthday. By September 11, he was declining and shortly after, he would go into home hospice up in Tomball, and I would drive there every day after work from downtown.
But on September 11, I was at work in a high rise in downtown Houston and went through the normal project motions that day. Suddenly word spread that “something” had happened in New York City. By the time we found out what, we had heard that two planes had hit the World Trade Center. I had an argument with one of the other engineers over what that meant. I was certain it meant terrorism, and he said we did not know that yet. But I knew that one plane could be an accident (I remember reading about a plane hitting the Empire State Building years ago), but that two planes meant it was done on purpose.
I called home, and my wife quickly put on the TV and described what she was seeing. Not long into the conversation, she said, “Oh my God, it’s gone. The newscaster is talking about a partial collapse, but that building is gone.” I held on longer, and the second building followed the first. And then we both moved on. She had to run to the school and pick up a friend’s daughter when she was in a serious car accident. I went back to work, but really it never happened. We were work zombies, wandering around talking to one another, sharing whatever we knew. But some paranoia set in. We were in a tall building in a major city. What if we were the next target. The company recognized that this was not going to be a successful day of work and released us.
Having been born in Manhattan and living in New Jersey as a child, my wife had a couple connections to the Twin Towers. Her favorite Uncle Tommy had worked many years in the Towers and had been there when the World Trade Center was attacked in 1993 and had to walk down 60+ stories and came out covered in soot from the smoke. Luckily he was retired by the time 9/11 occurred.
Her second connection did not come to be noticed until weeks later when she found out she had known someone who died in the Towers. The Moroney family had 7 boys growing up in Freehold, NJ and went to Catholic school with my wife’s large Catholic family. One of the boys, Dennis Moroney, was a couple years younger than my wife, a cute little Irish boy. In 2001, he was a VP and partner at Cantor Fitzgerald on the 101st floor of Tower #1. He died that day, and it brought it home to my wife as so very real a loss.
It has been 20 years since that awful day. The world was a blur then. My dad passed away three weeks later. So much has changed in our worlds since then. Taking a trip, going to a baseball game, getting into Disney World, you name it, has turned into an ordeal even before a pandemic made everything an ordeal.
We must never forget what happened that day. We must never forget that our enemies watch for us to be inattentive and an easy target. We must also somehow try to be one country again. Unfortunately, we often have to have a Pearl Harbor or a 9/11 to unite. Hopefully, we don’t need another horrific tragedy to do that.