I was working as a computer consultant at Morgan Stanley. As usual, I started my workday at 8 a.m. on the 69th floor of the World Trade Center’s south tower.
When the first plane hit the north tower, I started walking down the stairwell and made it all the way to the ground and eventually safe to my home in New Jersey.
My family was scattered all over the country. My husband was in Broken Bow, Neb., on a business trip. My oldest daughter was in graduate school at Indiana University, and the youngest daughter in Fair Lawn High School.
The entire family was in distress watching what happened on TV and not knowing if I had survived or not.
In the midst of these horrific events I saw many acts of heroism from just ordinary people, many acts of kindness and compassion coming from total strangers.
The officials, people whose job was to protect and inform, failed terribly, but ordinary American people rose to the occasion and showed courage, compassion, and kindness.
As I was walking north on Broadway, I saw many fire engines carrying firefighters toward the World Trade Center.
Their faces are etched in my memory. I knew they might not come back alive.
I was really touched by how many strangers were opening their hearts and willing to help.
In contrast, the failure of the employees of Fair Lawn High School office to relate a message to my daughter that her mother was alive seems incomprehensible.
As a result of this, the child was watching, on the school’s TV, the collapse of both towers, thinking that her mother was inside. When later I asked why, instead of an apology I was given an excuse that there are too many children whose parents are working in New York. Really?
And all of them were in the World Trade Center and all of them called the school?
And even if that were so, each and every child should have been told.
The lessons of 9/11?
There will always be people who hate us and try to harm us, but we should remember who we are and what makes us the greatest nation on earth: It’s not our material wealth but our values, our humanity, the generosity of the hearts of ordinary people.
Are we better prepared now? Perhaps, but self-reliance is the key to survival.
There is evil in this world, but there is much more good, and it gives us courage and strength to go on and do more good.