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Written by Marykate Wurster, mother of 3 wonderful children, Gladwyne, PA
9/11 always bring back a lot of memories for me. Memories of being in the financial district that day, blocks from the Towers. Memories of standing on the floor of my building and staring across at the large oozing holes, where holes should never be, in the center of buildings with people inside. And then the chaos, and all that went along with that day. So much happened in a four hour block, from the moment the first plane flew past my building, causing it to shake with it’s force, then the impact again shaking my building as it hit Tower One, outrunning the tidal wave of debris as the first Tower fell, and finally getting out of the city to safety. It felt like a million things happened, all of them significant. Everyone knows it well, there is so much footage, it is a day that we as country collectively experienced whether you were there or not.
Of all that I saw and experienced that day, one thing that will never leave me is the true courage I witnessed. I was by the Stock Exchange, trying to figure out a way out of Manhattan, watching thousands flee from the Towers, all terrified, some hurt. And then there was one man. A former Navy Seal who worked at my company – at a full sprint running towards the Towers, and all the danger there because he wanted to help, and perhaps save a life. And then the relentless sirens and red fire engines everywhere, streaming into lower Manhattan, fighting the crowds, trying to to get to the very place thousands were fleeing. There is no greater sacrifice, no greater valor. They did it for strangers, people they had never even met before. It’s amazing to consider.
I always think about my children, who know nothing of that day and what I want to tell them when the appropriate time comes. And what is most important to me is not the movie like surreal aspect of the day but the courage, and sacrifice I saw. The things I will never forget – evacuating my building, down 40 flights of stairs, at a fast clip, the stairwell packed and silent except for the shuffling of shoes. And watching an old friend, my manger ahead of me, petite and tiny, holding tightly onto a pregnant trainee and helping her down every step, not once letting go of her. And how once outside, almost immediately there were emergency personnel everywhere, just as confused and scared as the rest of us, and yet doing their job, and helping us. While crossing the Brooklyn Bridge there were regular citizens handing out face masks and bottles of water – they weren’t the Red Cross, they weren’t an organized group, they worked at a hospital close by and saw a need and met it. That is what I will tell them, what true courage, true sacrifice, true community looks like.
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