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Standing Tall

Published September 11th, 2011

Pearl Harbor. John F. Kennedy Assassination. You may or not remember where you were on those tragic days depending upon your age.

9/11/2001: You surely remember where you were 10 years ago today when those cowardly muslim terrorists crashed airplanes into these two most beautiful of buildings massacring 3,000 people.

I shot this image from the top of the Empire State Building November 26, 1996. How lucky I am to have taken it. I travel a lot. By September 11, 2001 I was completely accustomed to seeing these behemoths at the tip of Manhattan. Every time I took off for or returned home from a trip the Towers stood tall as my plane taxied to take-off or approached for landing as if to say ‘bon voyage’ or ‘welcome home’ Chris. The comfort of being home really came over me like a calmness every time I looked out the airplane window when landing seeing these ‘Twins’ standing tall, standing guard, over New York City. I knew I was home. And I was safe. So I thought.

I was in Dayton, Ohio the morning of September 11th. I was at a sales meeting and had a break at 8:30am. I was in the cafeteria getting a drink and snack and watching the news for a bit. I sat for a few minutes when suddenly all hell broke loose and the news cut to the image of a hole and a smoking north Tower caused by the crash of American Airlines flight 11 from Boston at 8:46am.

Holy Shit, I thought. What was I witnessing? An accident? Perhaps. Perhaps not. In utter disbelief I watched United Airlines flight 175 smash into the south Tower at 9:03am. Complete shock. Complete incomprehension. Complete sadness. Complete anxiousness. Complete need to get back to NY to my family.

Air travel goes on lockdown. Our company chairman puts out an edict that people are to stay wherever they are located and not travel. ”F” that. I am from NY. I am going home. My colleague and dear friend, Tommy LaGrega, jumped into the rental car he had and drove 15 hours from Dayton, OH to NY to get home to our families. Lucky to be with them. Unlike those 3,000 men and women and children who are no longer with us today.

I have a friend from England who I made a dinner reservation for at Window’s On The World for September 19, 2001. She would never get to experience what we did up on the top of the world. What the people that worked there experienced every day.

I knew people who worked in the Towers and died. I know people who worked in the Towers and escaped. Their stories are no less unbelievable than the sight of the airplanes crashing into the Towers, let alone their crumbling down.

God bless America. God bless the families of the victims. And God help those who planned, committed and still love the sight of this tragedy. We will never forget. We will never give up. We never lose. We always win.

This post is dedicated to the families who died that fateful day at Ground Zero, to the fallen heroes of the NYFD (343), the NYPD (23), the PAPD (37), the men and women who perished at the Pentagon (184) when flight 77 hit the building, and those bravest of passengers on flight 93 (40) who fought ’til the end giving their lives so as to save others from a similar fate with their crash in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania starting with Todd Beamer’s ‘Let’s Roll’. And to the men and women who survived that morning….and to our men and women in uniform, if who not for their commitment to the protection of American liberties, I, we, would not have the ability to take our pictures and post our blogs and travel around this country and world doing what we do.

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